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"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16



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Guidelines for Group Prayer

(1) Be conversational-use simple and direct language. Just talk to God as you would talk to a father, but also with reverence for who God is, the Lord of the universe.

(2) Be spontaneous-pray as God leads, not with vain repetitions and memorized phrases.

(3) Be clear-loud enough so others can hear, understand, and share in what is being said (1 Cor. 14:16).

(4) Show wisdom-do not use prayer to air sin-yours or others, or gossip in the name of a "prayer request." Do not preach, exhort or answer or get back at someone in a prayer meeting through your prayer. I have seen this happen, but such ceases to be prayer.

(5) Silence-do not get nervous between audible prayers. Use that time to keep on praying silently.

(6) Focus-learn awareness of Him and not others.

(7) Team effort-prayer is for every believer, not just a few super-duper saints. Every believer is a priest and has access into the very throne of God (Heb. 4:16; 1 Pet. 2:4, 9).


As we study the life of Christ, we note a consistent pattern:


(1) Busy Schedule:

  • In the midst of a busy schedule, when men were clamoring in their need for His attention,
  • Christ retired to pray and to draw upon the communion of God the Father
  • for He knew that "the Son can do nothing of Himself" (Mark 1:32-37).
(2) Making Important Decisions:
  • When it was time to choose the disciples we don't find Christ reviewing the qualifications of each of the disciples. Rather we find Him retiring to pray.
  • This is clear in Mark 3:13 and Luke 6:12-13.
  • Why? Because "the Son can do nothing of Himself." He needed the direction and provision of the Father.
(3) Trusting in the will of His Heavenly Father:
  • When Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus He raised His eyes heavenward in dependence and thanksgiving for what the Father was about to do. John 11:40-44 40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 "And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me." 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."
  • The actual prayer of Christ is not given, only the fact of His dependence, thanksgiving, and confidence that His prayer had been heard.
  • The words of verses 41 and 42 imply, however, that not only did He pray to the Father, but that He wanted all those standing around to know it as well that they might learn the secret of dependence.
  • This teaches us that when performing miracles, though not always heard by men, Jesus the man was praying in dependence upon the Father from the standpoint of His humanity.
(4) Trusting that His Father would supply His needs:
  • When He fed the five thousand. The words "and looking up toward heaven" demonstrate the Lord's prayerful dependence (Mark 6:41).
  • Also, "He blessed the food" which shows He thanked God the Father for it and for what He, the Father, was about to do through Jesus, the man, a God-dependent, God-approved man.
Think of Jesus Christ. He was the Son of God, God incarnate, the perfect man and the absolute Creator God who also as the God-man adequately and continuously fulfilled every expectation of God for man. He was the constant delight and joy of the Father's heart. He always pleased the Father. Now, thinking of Him as such, ask yourself this question. How much did He personally, as man, contribute to His mighty works, deeds, and ministry? NOTHING! Christ Himself gives us the answer, "... the father abiding in me does His works" (John 14:10). And how did that come about? Through prayerful dependence on the Father!
  • When we work, we work.
  • When we pray, the Father works.
So out of this conscious and constant sense of need, there arose a continuing attitude of prayer:
  • a continual expectation in the Lord Jesus that if anything was to be done, the Father must do it both by way of initiative, and wisdom, and power.
  • Now if this was true of Jesus Christ, how much more shouldn't this also be true for us? Indeed, prayer according to the pattern of the Lord Jesus is to be a vital goal of true disciples.

The disciples saw in Christ's life, not only prayer:

  • but a prayer life which demonstrated a dependency upon and intimacy with the Father
  • unlike anything else they had ever seen and they wanted to know the secret of this.
What was the request asked by the unnamed disciple? It was, "teach us to pray."

Not just how to pray, the

MECHANICS

, but how in the sense of the

MOTIVATION

. The how aspect is included by Christ in His answer in

Luke 11:2-13
2 So He said to them, "When you pray, say: our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." 5 And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 'for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; 7 "and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'? 8 "I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. 9 "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 "If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 "Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"


(1) Prayer should demonstrate a total consciousness of our need:
  • a sense of our complete inadequacy
  • along with a sense of God's complete adequacy and willingness.
    2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God
(2) Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance:
  • but laying hold of God's ever present willingness.
(3) Prayer is not for emergency use only:
  • when we get in a pinch and need someone to bail us out.
(4) Prayer is not an "Aladdin's Lamp":
  • or a trip to a wishing well for our wants.
(5) By contrast, prayer is a means of intimate communion, fellowship, and dependence upon God the Father:
  • who has promised to work in and through us through His Son, just as God worked through Him.
(6) Prayer is for everyday living, moment by moment.

(7) Prayer is a means of claiming God's promises:
  • and knowing and becoming abandoned to God's will.
    In John 14:10-14, note the relationship to prayer mentioned in verses 13-14 and the works we, as disciples, are to do in verse 12.
John 14:10-14 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
1. There is no activity in the life of a believer which does not require a prayerful attitude-
  • a prayerful dependence on and an expectation that God is at work
  • and will work according to His purposes and leading.
2. In ourselves we can do nothing.
  • Christianity is living by faith in the Creator God who dwells in us,
  • and prayer is God's means for us to draw upon Christ's miraculous life.
3. Christianity is as Paul expressed it in Galatians 2:20

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me."



4. Faith for a committed believer is expressed in intimate, prayerful living.
---- In practical terms what exactly does this means?
  • We can't really handle the phone call we are about to make, at least not in Christ's power and life, apart from prayer.
  • The lesson we are preparing to teach, we can't do effectively without prayerful dependence.
  • It means that while we usually recognize our need of God's enablement in things like witnessing, we nevertheless tend to take God for granted and operate in our own abilities in other areas because we think a task doesn't seem too difficult or it is within our area expertise.
As an illustration let's look at the miraculous catch of fish in Luke 5:5-11. What was Peter thinking in this passage?
Luke 5:5-11 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men." 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.
  • Probably something like, "Lord, you're a great teacher, you're the Son of God and Messiah, but we can handle this ourselves; we are expert fishermen.
  • We have been fishing these waters for years.
  • Besides, Lord, we fished these waters all night and we know the fish are simply not biting now."
  • But you see, biblical Christianity is living by faith and prayerful dependence upon God and under the power and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ regardless of how things appear to us.
Biblical Christianity is never a matter of living by who and what we are-
  • our insight,
  • our background,
  • our experience,
  • our training,
  • our giftedness, etc.
Biblical Christianity is a matter of living by faith:
  • in God's Word,
  • biblical insight,
  • and by faith in Jesus Christ, the Creator God and His availability to work through us as we are available and submissive to Him.
This happens when we live by intimate prayerful dependence upon the Father through:
  • a life of prayer,
  • a life of praying without ceasing,
  • and a life devoted to special times of prayer alone with the Father and His Son in the power of the Spirit.
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