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  Lord, Teach Us To Pray (3)

 

WHERE DO WE BEGIN?  

 

If prayer is to be true, Biblical prayer it must begin with God, not with us! Many people in our world pray to one god or another and the value of their prayer is determined by the kind of god to whom they pray. It's worth remembering Elijah's challenge: "You pray to your god and I will pray to mine and the God who answers by fire is the true god."? ( Kings 18/24)  

 

Jesus taught us that prayer begins with God and not with us and our needs. "This is how you should pray, 'Our Father……' (Matt.6/9). Other aspects of prayer (eg. requests, confession etc.) come later but the starting point is God Himself - His nature, character and purpose.   More specifically, prayer begins with God as He is revealed in the Bible...not as we might conceive of Him in our minds. Why this emphasis? Because it would seem that a disturbing number of professing Christians today hold to a concept of God that falls short - in some cases, far short - of that which is revealed in the pages of Scripture.

 

Ignorance of the God who is revealed in the Bible leads us inevitably to create an image of God in our own likeness and our prayer life then becomes conditioned by that inadequate and inaccurate view of God. Nowhere is our understanding of God more clearly seen than in the way we pray (or don't pray ).  

 

The obvious conclusion from the above is that we must allow the Scriptures to instruct us as to the nature, character and purpose of God. While ever we allow sub-Christian ideas from tradition and experience to be our guide we will always be a prisoner to a false idea of God.   The greatest problem we have in regard to prayer is NOT a lack of time, lack of commitment or lack of motivation…our greatest problem is the lack of a vision of the greatness of the God to whom we pray and the commitment that He has made to us.    

 

SO WHAT IS GOD LIKE?

 

Discuss together the following references and write what you learn about God from each one...(and it's OK to be repetitive)  

 

a) Isaiah 6/1-5 ________________________________________________________ 

b) Ezekiel 1/26-28 ____________________________________________________  

c) Rev.1/10-17 _______________________________________________________

 

By the way, did you notice the reaction of each prophet as he caught a glimpse of the likeness of God?

What was it? ___________________________________________________ 

 

Now let's read through the following verses and write against each one the particular attribute or characteristic of God that is mentioned.  

 

a)  Genesis 17/1 __________________________________________________ 

b)  Genesis 21/33 _________________________________________________     

c)  Exodus 20/5 __________________________________________________  

d)  Exodus 34/6 __________________________________________________ 

e)  Numbers 23/19 _______________________________________________

f)  Daniel 2/19-22 ________________________________________________ 

g)  John 17/25 ___________________________________________________ 

h)  Romans 1/18 _________________________________________________ 

i) 1 John 4/8 ____________________________________________________  

 

God is not only revealed in the Bible but also in what He has done in creation (although we must remember that creation now bears the impact of sin's invasion)  

a) Psalm 19/1-4 ________________      b) Romans 1/20_______________   

 

Of course, the clearest revelation of God's character and person is in His Son, Jesus Christ. If we want to know what God is like, we need only to look at His Son. Jesus said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father". (John 14/9).

 

Now if prayer begins with God - who He is and what He has done and is still doing - then prayer must also begin with praise and worship. Why? Because that is the only adequate and appropriate response to make to One so great and loving. Such a response majors on God rather than how we may fee! about ourselves.   That primary response of praise you can see in...  

a) 2 Chronicles 5/14  _____________________________________________

b) Nehemiah 1/5  ________________________________________________

c) Acts 4/24   ____________________________________________________

 

No study or experience of prayer can begin at any other place than with God Himself. When we begin to focus in a new way on God first, then we will begin to pray in a new way...with a new emphasis...and with a new effectiveness. Problems, hassles, tensions, evils, ambitions, joys, successes, disappointments will be seen in a new light when we first allow ourselves to be caught up with the greatness, love and power of God.

 

Can you hear something of the wonder coming through in the words of that lovely chorus ....  

Who is like unto Thee, 0 Lord among the gods?

Who is like unto Thee, glorious in holiness;

Fearful in praises, doing wonders,

Who is like unto Thee.?      

 

FOR YOUR OWN EXPLORATION THIS WEEK    

 

During this coming week, set yourself the discipline of looking again at Jesus' teaching on prayer in  MATTHEW 6/5-15  and write in again each section below the truth or principle that Jesus was teaching concerning prayer.  

 

a) Our Father in heaven      

 

b) Hallowed be your name      

 

c) Your Kingdom come      

 

d) Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven      

 

e) Give us today our daily bread      

 

f) Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors      

 

g) Lead us not into temptation      

 

h) Deliver us from the evil one     

 

i)  For the Kingdom and the power and the glory are yours
 
   

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