by Linda Claassen Mitchell
Seeking God’s Approval in Prayer – Day 1
Today I am looking at the topic of prayer. I’m starting in Matthew Chapter 6, where Jesus is teaching his disciples about seeking God’s approval, and how to pray.
Matthew 6:1-4 (IEB): Jesus talks about doing good works. He says not to draw attention to what you are doing, because the attention you get will be your only reward. (1)… “If you do that, then you will not receive a reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Instead do your good works in secret. (4)…”Your heavenly Father secretly sees this; He will repay you.”
My good works should be done to glorify God, not myself.
Matthew 6:5-6 (IEB): “And, when you pray, don’t be like the two-faced people. They love to stand praying in the synagogues and on the street corners, so that other people will see them. I am telling you the truth: They have received their reward. Instead, when you pray, go into your private room and close your door. Then pray secretly to your heavenly Father. He sees this in secret; He will repay you.”
My prayers should be from me to God, in private.
Matthew 6:7-8 (IEB): “When you pray, don’t use words without thinking, as people in the world do. They think that by saying many words God will listen to them. So, don’t be like them. Your heavenly Father knows about the things you need – even before you ask Him!”
I don’t need to be eloquent or educated or long-winded. I just need to turn to Him in prayer. He already knows what I need.
Matthew 6:9-13 (IEB): Jesus said: “This is the way you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, may Your Name always be kept holy. May Your kingdom come. May what You want done be done. May it always be here on earth as it is in heaven. Give us the food we need each day. Forgive us of the sins we have committed, as we also forgive everyone who has done wrong to us. Keep us away from temptation. Rescue us from the evil one’.” (See also Luke 11:2-4)
This prayer is an acknowledgement of, and pledge of allegiance to God’s plan. It is an expression of trust that He is the one in control over everything! In this prayer we admit that we sin and need forgiveness. It is also an affirmation that Satin is real and that we need God’s protection from him.
Matthew 6:14-15 (IEB): “If you forgive people of the things they have done wrong to you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. However, if you do not forgive people, then your Father will not forgive the wrong things you have done.”
God’s forgiveness of my sins depends on my willingness to forgive those who have done wrong to me. Why would I let my own un-forgiveness separate me from God?
I leave my study today humbled and thankful for His guidance and control over all.
The proper attitude while praying – Day 2
Yesterday’s Bible study covered what Jesus said to his disciples about praying to God. Today I am looking at other scriptures that address prayer. Throughout the New Testament the writers say: “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers”. So clearly I am to come to God with a thankful heart.
Mark 11:22-24 (IEB): “Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in God. I am telling you the truth: You could say to this mountain, ‘Pick yourself up and throw yourself into the lake!’ and it would happen for you. You must not doubt in your heart. Instead, believe that what you are saying will happen. This is why I am telling you: When you are praying and asking God for anything, believe that you have already received it, and it will happen for you.”
I should be thanking God for taking care of my needs, and have confidence that He has.
Mark 11:25 (IEB): “And when you stand praying, if you have something against someone, forgive him. Then your heavenly Father will forgive you of the things you have done wrong.”
I may not have control over some things, but I do have control over my own willingness to forgive. My forgiveness may or may not matter to the person I am forgiving, but it matters a great deal to me if I want God to forgive me and hear my prayers.
Romans 12:12 (IEB): “Rejoice in hope. Be patient during times of trouble. Pray constantly.”
Christ came to give us hope! If I have accepted Christ as my savior and choose to be anything but hopeful, it’s the same as rejecting Him. Troubles come to everyone, but they don’t need to be the end of the world if I have faith that the Lord will see me through. Pray constantly. That appears to be a big order! But if I turn to the Lord when I’m happy and when I am troubled – that pretty much covers my day!
Philippians 4:6 (IEB): “Don’t worry about anything. Instead, let God know what you are asking for in prayer. Tell Him all about what you want. And, be thankful.”
Matthew 6:8 says “Your heavenly Father knows about the things you need – even before you ask Him.”
But the scriptures above clearly tell me my prayers should ask God for what I need, or let God know what I am asking. Clearly my prayer is not for His enlightenment, but for mine. My going to God in prayer says; I can’t do this on my own; He is the one in control. What is under my control is my attitude. If I want my prayers to be heard I must first forgive the wrongs that others have done to me. I need to go to the Lord with a thankful heart, with faith that He has provide all that I need. Sometimes that is simply the patience to endure.
The Power of Prayer – Day 3
James 5:13-16 (IEB) “If one of you is in trouble, he should pray. If one of you is happy, he should sing. If one of you is sick, he should call for the elders of the congregation. They will pray for him and put olive oil on him (a) in the name of the Lord. Prayer to God made in faith will cause the sick person to get well. The Lord will raise him up. And, if this person has sinned, then God will forgive him. So, admit your sins to one another. Pray for each other. God will make you well. When a person is right with God, his prayer is very powerful and effective!”
Following the footnotes:
(a) the oil seems to have been used for medical purposes. See Luke 10:34
Luke 10:34 (IEB): “The Samaritan man went to him and poured olive oil and wine
(c) on his wounds. Then he bandaged the man’s wounds.”
Following the footnotes:
(c) These had a cleansing effect on the wounds)
Luke 1:13 (IEB) “But the angel said to him, ‘Zechariah, don’t be afraid. Your prayer has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him John’.”
Zechariah and Elizabeth were old, and had no children. I am sure they had both been praying for a child for decades! God could have answered their pray at any time, but their son John (the Baptist) was part of God’s plan for our salvation. He answered their prayer at the appropriate time. I am reminded that Zachariah and Elizabeth remained faithful and continued to do His will while they waited for their prayer to be answered.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (IEB) “Brothers and sisters; we want you to know about the trouble we went through in the land of Asia. The burdens were heavier than we could carry; we thought we were going to die. We felt we had been condemned to die. But, something happened to cause us to place our hope upon God (who raises people from death) and not in ourselves! God has rescued us from such life-and-death situations and He will rescue us in the future. We have placed all our hope on Him. He will always rescue us, while you are working together, praying for us. Then many people will be thankful to God for His favor to us. This is an answer to the prayers of many people.”
The people had been praying for them, “something” happened to cause them to put their hope upon God and not themselves, and God rescued them. This is an answer to prayer. I am assured here that my prayers for others are heard and do make a difference.
I leave my study today reminded that there is power in prayer. If I am in trouble I need to pray, and ask others to pray for me too. While I am praying, I need to have faith and continue to be obedient, even if it seems as if my prayer is not being answered. And finally, there is power in praying for each other.
Praying for those in authority – Day 4
A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook (April 20, 2015) taken from the breakingchristiannews.com web site. The article was titled “Australia Calls World to Pray and Fast for 7 days for USA.
“(Australia) – The team behind Australia’s National Day of Prayer and Fasting, along with other prayer leaders are calling the nations of the world to prayer and fasting for seven days for USA. This period of prayer took place from April 30 – May 6, 2015.
April 30 is America’s National Day of Repentance, and May 7 is the United States 64th Annual National Day of Prayer.
Warwick Marsh, Australian coordinator, said, “April 30 is the 226th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration as a devout Christian president, and the 152nd anniversary of Lincoln’s Day of ‘Humiliation, Prayer, and Fasting’ held during the devastating times of the Civil War. The theme for the USA National Day of Prayer on 7 May, 2015 ‘Lord Hear Our Cry‘ is taken from 1 Kings 8:28. 1 Kings 8:28 (IEB): “Nevertheless, O Yahweh, my God, please listen to my prayer and my request. I beg you to hear this plea and this prayer which I am praying to You today.” … Lana Vawser from Australia said, “There is a fight for the destiny of the USA right now. The destiny of America hangs in the balance. The Lord is calling His people to arise and pray for the United States of America.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 (IEB): “Then My people, who are called by My Name, will be sorry for what they have done. They will pray and obey Me and stop their evil ways. If they do that, then I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land.”
Daniel 9:3-4 (IEB): Daniel is praying for Israel: “Then I turned to the Lord, the one true God. I was seeking Him and asking Him for help. I would not eat any food. And, I put on rough cloth and I sat down in ashes. I prayed to Yahweh, my God. I confessed all of my sins to him. I said ‘O Lord, You are the great and awesome God. You keep Your covenant of love with all who love You and obey Your commands.”
Acts 14:23 (IEB): “They appointed elders for each group who had answered God’s call. The believers fasted and prayed for these men. These men had put their trust in the Lord Jesus. So, Paul and Barnabas put them in the Lord’s care.”
I found myself humbled to realize people in other nations were planning to fast and pray for MY country. To be truthful, I also felt more than a little embarrassed that we are in such obvious need of those prayers. I am ashamed that I have not made fasting and praying for my country a priority. That changes today!
Pray Continually – Day 5
Today I am continuing to study what the Bible says about prayer. Paul writes to the church in Colossae about Christ. The introduction to this chapter indicates: “In this letter Paul emphasizes that spirituality is not achieved by self-centered efforts to control the passions, but by putting on Christ, setting one’s affections upon him, and so stripping off all that is contrary to his will.”
Colossians 1:9-14 (IEB): “So, since the day we heard about you, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of what God wants, with all kinds of wisdom and spiritual understanding. We want you to live as if you were worthy of the Lord Jesus. Please him in every way. Produce the fruit of good deeds. Grow in your knowledge of God. Be strong! Have all the strength of His glorious power. Then you will be able to endure anything. You will learn patience with joy. Give thanks to the Father who entitled you to have a part of what holy people will receive. The holy people are in the light. He rescued us from the power of darkness (sin) and moved us into the kingdom of His dear Son. We have freedom in Christ – the forgiveness of sins.”
Paul is talking to Christ’s church here, the people who have obeyed the Gospel and are baptized believers. They are already saved by grace and faith, but he is praying that they realize what they have been given through Christ. That they will grow in their faith! To do everything to please the Lord so they can fully experience the gift of freedom in Christ.
Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the world that I don’t know what to pray. I am bookmarking this passage from Colossians 1: 9-14, for my prayers for God’s people as well as myself.
Colossians 2:20 (IEB): “Since you truly died with Christ, leaving behind the standards of the world, why are you living as if you were still in the world?…”
Colossians 3:1 (IEB): “So, since you were raised with Christ, search for the things that are above (in heaven) where Christ is sitting at God’s right side.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (IEB) “Always be happy. Pray Continually. Thank God at all times. This is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus”
The Father has given us the most glorious gift! He has entitled us to have a part of what the holy people will receive. We have been rescued from the power of darkness and have freedom in Christ! Thank you Lord!
Prayer and the Holy Spirit – Day 6
For the past five days I have been looking at what God’s word says about prayer. These studies have covered: seeking God’s approval/prayer; the proper attitude when praying; the power of prayer; praying for our country; and praying continually. But what about when I can’t even find the words to express my need?
Romans 8:26 (IEB): “We don’t know how we should pray, but the Spirit helps our weakness. He personally talks to God for us with feelings which our language cannot express.”
When the end was near, Christ he told his followers that he would not leave them alone. He would leave behind the Holy Spirit to comfort them.
John 14:15-17 (IEB): Jesus said “If you love me, obey my commands. I will ask my Father and He will give to you another Comforter – the Spirit of truth. He will be with you forever.”
John 14:25-27 (IEB): “I (Jesus) have said these things to you while I am staying with you. The Comforter will teach you everything. He will cause you to remember everything I have told you. He is the Holy Spirit. The Father will send him with my authority. I am leaving peace with you. I am giving to you My peace. This peace that I am giving you is not like the type that the world gives. Don’t let you heart be troubled or afraid.”
Here is another reference to the trinity; the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit who have existed since the beginning (Genesis 1:26) and will continue to exist to the end of time.
Jesus was crucified, buried and rose on the third day (Sunday) just has he had said he would. He appeared later that same Sunday where the followers were gathered.
John 20:21-22 (IEB): “Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you. I am sending you just as the Father has sent me.’ After Jesus said this, he breathed on them (demonstrating inspiration) and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’!”
Again Jesus did just as he said he would. I can rely on God’s word to be true.
John 14:6 (IEB): “Jesus said to him, (Thomas) ‘I am the Way and the Truth and the Life! The only way anyone can come to the Father is through me!'”
I am not alone. I have access to the Father through prayer through his Son Jesus Christ who died for my sins. I have the Bible which is the inspired word of God because the Holy Spirit spoke these words through the men who God choose to write them down. And the Holy Spirit will talk to God on my behalf when I can’t even form the words in prayer. I am not alone.