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"Lord, teach us to pray". (6)

 

JESUS AT PRAYER  

 

There is perhaps no better way to learn how to pray than to be an observer of the life of someone who really know how to pray .... to watch that person's lifestyle and even to be with them when they are at prayer. In some ways the spirit of prayer is better "caught than taught".  

 

In this session we want to do two main things:-  

a)  We want to identify again the priorities of Jesus' life and to keep in mind that He is our pattern, our model and our example.  

b) We want to come near and listen to Him as He prays and learn what we can from Him Who is our teacher in the Christian life.    

 

1. JESUS AND THE TIME FACTOR  

For Jesus, prayer was absolutely indispensable in His life. Despite the fact that His life was far busier than yours or mine are ever likely to be, He refused to let the demands on His time and attention exclude prayer from the very centre of His life. In fact, there were times during that pressure-packed three year ministry when He deliberately chose to retreat from ministry in order to pray.  

a)  Luke 5/15,16 ____________________________________________

b)  John 5/19______________________________________________  

c)  John 14/10_____________________________________________  

 

We cannot but be impressed that, for Jesus, His relationship with the Father which was nurtured in prayer was far more important than the 'doing' dimension of His life. That same principle "rubbed off" on to His disciples because they, too, refused to let the increasing demands of their ministry (lifestyle) keep them from the place of prayer.  

Acts 5/1-4______________________________________________  

 

However, when we look at our own lives, have we allowed the reverse situation to dominate? i.e we give ourselves to the 'ministry' (whatever form that may take in each of our lives) and we will pray if there is time left (maybe). The truth is that no one else has any more time than you have. The real issue is the discipline and management of our time. The statement, "I didn't have time to pray" is incomplete (and perhaps even a little dishonest?) Maybe the truth is that we did have time but we used that time for something we considered to be more important at that moment.  

 

2. JESUS AND THE FEELING FACTOR  

In our last session we touched on this dimension insofar as the matter of inner impressions or promptings were concerned. It is sufficiently important to warrant further emphasis in this session.     Read the verse below and write in the two alternatives or options mentioned in the verse    

 Luke 18/1________________________________________________________  

 

Have you noticed how much despair, anxiety, fear and discouragement is to be found in the lives of people today? That applies to Christian people, too. Jesus is here teaching that the antidote to discouragement is prayer. In short, if you pray you won't get discouraged (as a lifestyle) and if you get discouraged you won't pray. One can't live in the presence of the other.   This brings us again to that critical area of our feelings/emotions. We often refer to the right sequence of fact, faith and feeling when it comes to salvation but almost as often we fail to apply the same truth/principle to the matter of prayer.

 

The FACT always comes first. Then comes FAITH in the fact .Then comes the FEELING in its right place and order.  If we are depressed or disappointed we usually feel that we cannot pray - at least not until we are 'on top' again. But the truth is that we would not have a number of the Psalms if such feelings disqualified their writers from prayer. What kind of FEELINGS do you detect inů  

 

Psalm 42/5,6 _____________________________________________  

Psalm 45/2_______________________________________________

 

Feelings of anger & frustration are two other emotions that we usually feel disqualify us from prayer. Yet what do you note about Job's feelings in ....  

Job 23/1-5 _____________________________________________  

 

Feelings of guilt, failure & unworthiness can often drive us away from the place of prayer rather than to it. But what do you note about David's experience?  

 

Psalm 32/1-5__________________________________________  

Psalm 51/1,2__________________________________________

 

Jesus was unashamed to express His emotions...and to express them in prayer at times....especially in Gethsemane. It was there that he acknowledged just how He was really feeling - distressed,deeply troubled and sorrowful. So what did He do? He fell to the ground and prayed and expressed to God exactly what He was feeling BUT note how His Will prevailed over His emotions ....  

* His emotions = if there is some other way, take this cup away from me

* His Will = nevertheless, not what I want but what you want  

 

We are never asked to pretend to be other than what we are. That would be hypocrisy. We are encouraged to be real. That's authenticity. E. Stanley Jones said that sometimes you have to feel yourself into a new way of acting but that at other times you have to act yourself into a new way of feeling. Faith is basically action.  

 

Our study sessions now bring us to the point where we need to begin to practice some of what we have been learning and for us to have a more detailed look at our prayer book - the Bible. There are many places in the gospels to which we could turn to see Jesus at prayer and some of them you will be asked to consider in this week's assignment. However, for a group exercise now, we could do no better than to turn to John 17/1-26 and to thoughtfully listen to Jesus as He shares His innermost soul with His Father.  

 

1. READ JOHN 17/1-5  

 

a. How did Jesus address God? (Vs.1,5) ________________________

b. What request did Jesus make for Himself? (Vs.l,5)__________________

c. Are there any clues in these 5 verses as to how I can pray for myself? _________________________________________________________________   

 

2. READ JOHN 17/6-19  

Make a list of the things that Jesus prayed for His disciples        

 

3. READ JOHN 17/20-26  

1.  What did Jesus pray for all believers in every age?          

2.  As you listen to Jesus praying, what aspects impress or disturb or encourage you?        

3.  If you had been present and overheard Jesus pray that prayer, what would you like to say to Him when He returned to that group in the Garden of Gethsemane?  
 

FOR YOUR OWN EXPLORATION THIS WEEK.

   

1. Take time to read the four passages listed below (one from each gospel) and write in the space provided what you learn from Jesus' example about prayer  

 

a. Matt.27/45,46    

b. Mark 14/32-39    

c. Luke 10/21,22    

d. John 11/40-43    

 

List the things you find either difficult, annoying, frustrating, satisfying or awkward about public praying - whether in a small group or church service.  

 

a. Difficult or Awkward      

b. Annoying or Frustrating    

c. Satisfying    

 

Take time to write down the kind of prayer you would like to be able to pray in a small group. It may only be a sentence .... it may take the remainder of the space on this page; that does not matter. Perhaps you could use the headings suggested but that, too, is unimportant. However, begin with the words .....(and write it out just as you would pray it)  

 

Dear Father,    

I thank you today because  __________________________________________    

I ask you today for     _______________________________________________

I want to pray for (people) _____________________________________________

And I praise you because ________________________________________________

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