WEEK 2 PRAYING
The Purpose of Prayer: Prayer is the communication between you and God. The reason you are a believer is to build a relationship with God whom you believe in. What kind of relationship would you have with anyone if you never talked to them and they never talked back to you? Prayer is a give and take; you call and God answers.
Just like fasting, praying is part of what you do regularly as a believer. Why wouldn’t you pray? The rewards are greater than the act. Mark 11:24 gives you the key to answered prayer, “…What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
WEEK 2 DAY 1
Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Anthony Murray Commentary: When Jesus began his earthly ministry crowds followed him to hear his message of the Kingdom. This sermon is coined the Sermon on the Mount because he preached from a mountain to accommodate the crowd. During the message recorded from Matthew 5-7, one thing Jesus does is give instructions to his followers about how to pray. A shorter version of this prayer is also found in Luke.
Of course there will be times when you pray specific prayers for specific needs, but this basic widely quoted prayer covers many areas of daily life: spreading the gospel of the kingdom, receiving daily nourishment, handling daily business with your neighbors and finally a request to keep your relationship with God intact.
Prayer is an integral part of a believer’s daily life. As you can see from these verses, prayer is designed to be done every day. On some days you may not sense a specific need because God regularly takes care of you, but there will be times when prayer becomes more intense and is done throughout your day. God is always ready to hear the petition of believers and more than willing to answer as you listen.
Week 2 Day 2
Matthew 6:7 (NIV), “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”
Anthony Murray Commentary: Before the simple words found in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew, Jesus instructed his followers to keep their prayers simple. He wanted them to understand that God can hear you regardless of how may words you use. Many do not readily recognize when God has already answered prayers because they are constantly in “deep” prayer mode and consistently talking. Their faith has not been strengthened and that could be because they were taught by some unknowing believer that prayers have to be long. There may be a time for long extended prayers in times of great despair. You can find examples of this throughout scriptures, but here Jesus is telling his followers that lengthy prayers are no guaranteed that you will be heard sooner than someone with a simple prayer request.
Week 2 Day 3
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV), “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Anthony Murray Commentary: A believer’s position before God should always be one of thanksgiving. When you are regularly in a place of gratefulness it will remind your spirit that God never forgets about you.
Praying without ceasing does not mean that you walk around praying unaware of what is going on around you, but it is a place of acknowledging at all times that God is in control. When you know who is directing your life even the bad times will not seem so bad. Romans 8:28 lets you know that all things are working together for your good. This includes the good, the bad and the ugly. With this in mind your thoughts will remain constant on a benevolent God. You will be one request away from the answer you are seeking.
Week 2 Day 4 James 5:16 (NIV), “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Anthony Murray Commentary: Praying is not gossiping. There are believers who live with turmoil of spirit because they believe there is no one to share with. This is not what God planned when he created humans. Everyone should be ready to pray for a brother or sister who gets into trouble or makes a dire mistake. Spreading someone else’s business is not praying unless it is in a prayer gathering and the person has requested prayer from trusted believers. The weapon of confession has diminished because too many believers have used what someone has confided as information for entertainment. James is telling you here that confession is a blessing to those seeking a right relationship with God. After a confession is made the hearers are to pray for the believer so that they can be restored. Wholeness is what God promises and much of it will come from fellow believers that care enough about others to pray for them. Prayers in the hands of passionate believers cannot keep God from moving. Here you can see that they will yield great results. Remember that every believer will need to confess at times and effective prayer is what is needed for healing.
Week 2 Day 5
Proverbs 15:8 (KJV), “The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”
Anthony Murray Commentary: The word detests is strong vocabulary. It emphasizes how much God dislikes sacrifices given by the wicked. Who are the wicked in this passage? These are them that really do not put their trust in an almighty God. Is everyone else perfect? Absolutely not! But like King David talks about in Psalms 51, God wants brokenness from believers who realize that everything they get is out of God’s favor. He really wants to hear from those doing his will. He hates the giving from those that do not believe.
This is a hard saying for those who have not made any change in their life since they began to believe. Getting to the place where God passionately waits to hear your prayers only takes one simple act: a decision to change. Having a heart towards God is not just a blessing for you, it greatly pleases God.
Don’t wait! Make the decision today to change. Giving has its own reward, but God would rather it come from a yielded heart. Not only do you want your sacrifices to produce great dividends, you want God to first be pleased to hear from you.
Week 2 Day 6
Philippians 4:6 (KJV), “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Anthony Murray Commentary: The word anxious has many synonyms. It can be replaced with nervous, fearful, worried, concerned and uneasy to name a few. None of them is what God desires from his believers. There is a scripture in James that says when you are patient you develop a skill that leaves you never in want (James 1:4). Your faith will be established and you will have learned to totally trust God. The passage above from Philippians is alluding to a similar concept, trust God for an outcome. James says to let patience work and Paul is telling the church at Philippi not to worry.
The way to get to this contented state in God is through prayer. Along with prayer is a deeper plea, here called supplication. These two are to be joined with thanksgiving. Being grateful may sound strange when you are in great need, but it is a strategy in warfare praying. Prayer, supplication and thankfulness are tools that the enemy does not understand.
How do you master this kind of prayer? The key is to engage your faith and pray as if you have already received what you are praying for. This is not a trick to get God to give you what you want, but it is an approach that will give you peace in a storm and direct you to discipline your prayers and mind while waiting during a difficult situation.
Week 2 Day 7
2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV), “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Anthony Murray Commentary: If you have been in church gatherings for any length of time you have most likely heard this passage quoted many times. There is one thing missing from the importance from this commandment to pray and that is the verse that precedes this one. It is great to know that God will answer prayers, but on occasion God will reveal why something is happening and the reason you should pray.
As you read scripture, answers to problems are revealed that were totally unknown to the participants. Job was an upright man. Job had no clue why he was going through such turmoil, but the readers of the Bible do. God used him as an example to show how bad things sometimes happen to good people yet God gets the glory. This passage in Chronicles is not just about praying and repenting, it is about God’s judgement against the sins of people, yet he still answers prayer.
Verse 13 says, “If I shut up heaven so that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send a pestilence among my people….” This confirms that God is in control of the good and the bad. God allows everything that happens.
It is good to recall that as humans you are subject to error. Every negative thing that happens to you is not your fault, but you can take responsibility for how you respond to what happened. Since the fall in the Garden of Eden, the earth and all its inhabitants have had to live in a state of defending what is right. When believers humble themselves, gather and pray on behalf of this shared land, and turn from all that is not like God, God will hear from his throne and heal the land on behalf of his people. That is the responsibility of all believers, because everyone has sinned and is in need of a loving savior to rescue them.