Lesson 6

Lord of Our Prayers

(Psalms 103, Romans 8, John 14, 1 John 5)
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Introduction: When I have an argument before a judge, I want to know something about that judge. What kind of attitude does the judge have towards lawyers? What kind of attitude does the judge have towards my kind of case? What kind of relief is the judge likely to give my client? This week our lesson is about prayer. What kind of God do we approach? What kind of attitude does He have towards us? What kind of relief is He likely to give us? What has He promised? Let's dive in and find out!

  1. God's Attitude Towards Us


    1. Read Psalms 103:11. What is the underlying quality of God's attitude towards us? (He has a great love for us.)


      1. Does God have the same love for everyone? (The Psalms tell us that God has a special love for those who fear Him.)


    2. Read Psalms 103:13. When I was a teen in academy, I had a Bible teacher who told me stories about people who turned to God as a result of terrible car accidents. It made me a bit worried about how God's love might actually be played out in my life. What does this text teach parents about God's attitude? (If you are a loving parent, then you can have confidence that God will treat you just as you treat your children. That gives me a great deal of comfort when I think back about the "car accidents" lessons.)


    3. Read Psalms 103:14. What is an important part of God's compassion towards us? (He knows that we are human. Part of our compassion towards our children comes because we know they are weak and inexperienced.)


    4. Read Proverbs 3:11-12. What is included in God's compassion towards us? (Discipline.)


      1. Why does God discipline us? (He loves us in the same way as a "father the son He delights in.")


      2. Have you ever thought that God delighted in you?


      3. What is our obligation when it comes to being disciplined? (We need to have the right attitude about it. We need to remember that God does this out of His love for us. We should learn our lesson and not be resentful.)
    5. Read Romans 8:28. What is God's goal for our life? (To work for our good.)


      1. What should be the goal of our life? (To love God and answer the "purpose" that He has for our life.)


    6. Read Romans 8:31-32. What past action of God gives us confidence in His love and His willingness to give us gifts? (God gave up His Son for us. That says volumes about His attitude toward us.)


      1. Stop a minute here. We just learned that God has a "Father/child" relationship with us. Consider what happened to His own Son. Should I go back to my worries about my Bible teacher's "car accidents for salvation stories?"


  2. Jesus Our Intercessor


    1. Read Romans 8:33-34. Why did Jesus die for us? (The further answer here is that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so that we would not have to pay that penalty.)


      1. What is Jesus role on our behalf? (He is our Intercessor.)


      2. What is Satan's role? ("Satan" is the unstated answer to the query "who is he who condemns?")


        1. As you consider the role of God and the role of Satan, on whose side do you want to be?


    2. Romans 8:34 reveals that Jesus is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us. What does that teach us about our prayers? (We have a wonderful Agent who is working for us in approaching God.)


    3. Read Romans 8:35. What does God promise and what does God not promise to those who fear Him? (He promises that we shall not be separated from His love. However, I (unfortunately) note that the context for this statement is the possibility of "trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword!")


      1. If we pray to have trouble, hardship, etc. removed, and it is not, does that mean Jesus does not love or care for us any more? ( Romans 8:35 suggests that enduring these problems does not separate us from Jesus' love.)


    4. Read John 14:12-14. How should we pray? (Jesus tells us to pray "in His name.")


      1. Over the years, I have been often asked to give the Christmas lunch prayer for the organization for which I work. Out of sensitivity for a dear Jewish co-worker, I have sometimes left Jesus' name out of the prayer. Is it okay to leave Jesus' name out of the prayer, and just pray to God, since I know that Jesus is God? (I have struggled with what to do, but I think this text is clear that I should always pray in Jesus' name. 1 Timothy 2:5 tells us that there is but one mediator between God and man.)


  3. What To Pray


    1. Romans 8:35 suggests that we may endure problems even in the face of God's love. John 14:14 is a promise straight from the mouth of Jesus that He will do "anything" we ask of Him. Why would we be enduring problems if Jesus promises that our prayers to Him will be granted?


      1. Have you prayed and prayed and not had your prayers answered? How can that be possible given the promise of John 14:14?


      2. Let's examine the verses which lead up to this promise. Read John 14:11-13. What has Jesus "been doing?" (Miracles.)


        1. What is the purpose of those miracles? (To show the connection between Jesus and God.)


        2. What does Jesus promise us in John 14:12? (That with faith, we too can do miracles.)


        3. What reason does Jesus give in John 14:13 for granting our requests? (So that He may bring glory to God.)


        4. What does this context teach us about Jesus' promise to do "anything" we ask in prayer? (Jesus' miracles were for the purpose of bringing glory to God, helping others and revealing that Jesus was God. Most of our prayers are for ourselves, and probably have more to do with giving us glory rather than God.)


        5. Why don't we see more miracles today? If Jesus promises that we can "do even greater things" than He did, why cannot we raise the dead and heal the sick? Why do we have to depend on prayer and modern medicine?


          1. Is part of the problem a failure to ask?


    2. Read 1 John 5:14-15. This repeats the phrase about praying to God for "whatever we ask." But, it contains a limit on what we ask. What is that limit? (That we ask "according to His will.")


      1. Is that limit implicit in Jesus' promise in John 14:14? (I think so. Otherwise, the only remaining possible answers to why we (I) have not been able to heal the sick without the aid of modern medicine are: a. A lack of faith; b. A failure of the promise; or c. The promise was given to the disciples and not us.)


    3. Read Mark 14:35-36. Consider this series of texts. In John 14:14 Jesus says "ask anything" in 1 John 5:14 we read "ask anything according to God's will," and in Mark 14:36 Jesus prays "not what I will, but what You will." Would a mature Christian always pray "God's will, not mine?"


      1. Would maturity matter - because God is only going to do His will anyway? (We read stories in the Old Testament where God grants things which He says are against His will. For example, the 1 Samuel 8 story of Israel wanting, and getting, a king against the will of God.)


    4. You remember the story in Matthew 17 of the demon-possessed boy? The disciples tried to exorcize the demon, but could not. Jesus arrives and the father brings the boy to Jesus for healing. Read Matthew 17:17-20. What is the explanation for the failure of the disciples to heal? (Too little faith. The parallel version of this answer is found in Mark 9:28-29. Jesus says the problem is a lack of prayer. It seems the disciples relied too much on themselves and not enough on the power of God.)


      1. If not sufficiently relying on the power of God is a reason for our prayers not being answered, what does this have to do with deferring to God's will in our prayers? (If we have absolute faith and trust in God, why would we pray anything other than for His will to be done? Whatever it was that Jesus promised to us in John 14:14, it seems foolish for us to ask anything that is outside the will of God.)


    5. Friend, the God who cares for us in the same way a parent loves a child, invites us to turn to Him for help. Will you trust Him by seeking His will through prayer?


  4. Next week: Lord of Our Relationships.

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