Week 3

BREAKTHROUGH PRAYER STUDY

Prayer Session 3

 

Intro

It is impossible to live life on top of the world all the time.  There are times when life seems in the pits.  And that happens to everyone.  Even saints have bad days.  And it is okay. 

 

But it is not okay to become satisfied to stay there.  Those down days, those troubling times are God’s gift to help us realize how much we yearn for God’s Spirit.  They remind us how much we depend on God’s power and presence in our everyday lives.

 

 

Digging into the Text

Psalm 42:1 & 2 – “As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, God.  I thirst for God, the living God.”

 

This Psalm is not attributed to David, although he apparently wrote many of them.  From his childhood David learned to trust in God.  Perhaps it was in the those many days of watching sheep that David developed habits of attentiveness to God.  And those habits served him well throughout his life.

 

I knew a school principle who described recess duty to be hours of tedious boredom and a few seconds of sheer terror.  But it is the disciplines in the hours of boredom that guide us through the seconds of sheer terror.  It is how we prepare, equip, and train ourselves that empowers us to face the crises.  It is how we shape our spiritual reflexes ahead of time that enables us to face the challenges.

 

And the blessing is not just in the thrill and excitement of the terror, but in the fulfillment of joy in whatever circumstances.  In fact, the blessing does not depend on the outward circumstances, but the inward relationship with God. 

 

That’s why the Apostle Paul, much later than King David, could say, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  …whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.  I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Phil 4:11-13)

 

Questions to Ponder:

1.     What influences my thought life most? 

2.     What is the most significant source of media that I consume?

3.     What are the means by which I can listen more carefully to God?

 

Application

What is one habit I would like to start to deepen the reservoir of God’s presence in my life?

 

Breakthrough Prayer

      “Lord, I pray for breakthroughs in my life, my church, and the world.  Give me faith to see your Spirit at work.  Reveal what you want to do through me.  I trust in your grace in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

To participate in our discussion, please visit this blog post's Permalink: http://www.lewiscenterumc.org/breakthrough-bible-study/week3

Week 2

BREAKTHROUGH PRAYER STUDY

 

Prayer Week 2

 

Intro

The advantages of technology today provides so many means by which people can stay in touch:  facebook, Instagram, twitter, text message, email, Linked In, skype, google hangouts, and many more.  I’m sure I have barely scratched the surface.  In 1982 John Naisbitt authored a book entitled, Megatrends, where he coined the concept of high tech high touch.  As our use of technology becomes more and more involved with our lifestyles, we will reach out for more and more personal experiences.  As high tech increases, our thirst for high touch increases.

 

 

 

Digging into the Text

Jesus did not have a cell phone or an Instagram account, but it was critically important for him to stay in touch with God.  So often he would disappear.  Even though the crowds still demanded his attention, and the opportunities to teach about the Kingdom of God continued to stretch in front of him; he would retreat away from the demands and spend time in prayer.  He stayed in touch with God. 

 

The disciples observed that this was so much a pattern of Jesus’ life that they asked him, “Teach us to pray.”  And we find Jesus’ answer in this passage.

 

Matthew 6:9-13 (NRSV)

9 “Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,

    hallowed be your name.

10

    Your kingdom come.

    Your will be done,

        on earth as it is in heaven.

11

    Give us this day our daily bread.

12

    And forgive us our debts,

        as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13

    And do not bring us to the time of trial,

        but rescue us from the evil one.

 

Ron Kincaid (The Prayer Dare) writes:  “Jesus knew that prayer was critical to developing an intimate relationship with God; in fact, He had such a close relationship with His Father that He prayed about everything. And He knew that prayer is how to tap into God's power.”

 

            If prayer is that important to someone like Jesus, how much more it should be a priority for us as Jesus’ disciples.  Notice it is a simple prayer.  It is one that is based on a deep and personal relationship.  Jesus calls God “Father.”  It is a term of relationship.  What does this imply?

 

            For what does Jesus pray?  How does this prayer differ from the one we pray together every Sunday morning?

 

Questions to Ponder:

1.     How do you stay in touch with God?

2.     How does Jesus’ pattern of prayer shape your prayers?

 

 

Application:

1.      Visualize prayer to be a simple conversation with God – someone who loves you and cares deeply about you.  In that relationship let prayer flow – sometimes words and sometimes silence – between God and you.

 

Breakthrough Prayer

Lord, I pray for breakthroughs in my life, my church, and the world.  Give me faith to see your Spirit at work.  Reveal what you want to do through me.  I trust in your grace in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

To participate in our discussion, please visit this blog post's Permalink: http://www.lewiscenterumc.org/breakthrough-bible-study/week2

 

Week 1

BREAKTHROUGH PRAYER STUDY

 

Prayer Week 1 

 

Intro

Welcome to the first week of our Breakthrough Prayer study.  This is your invitation to participate in a journey to heighten your awareness of the importance of prayer for the Christian disciple.  Prayer is one of the spiritual disciplines through which we can tap into the heart and mind of God.  All of the great leaders in the Bible were great not because they were perfect.  They were not.  It was not because they came from privileged pasts – some did and some did not.  They became great because they “tuned” in to God’s heart and mind.  Prayer became the source of their strength, their power, and their wisdom.

 

 

 

 

Digging into the Text

One of the most inspirational examples of prayer is the story of Daniel in the Old Testament.  Daniel was one of the young Jewish slaves that was imported from Judah when Babylon conquered the land several hundred years before Jesus.  So he was surviving in a strange land with strange food and strange customs and strange language.  We have no mention of family, so we can assume they were killed in the war or deported into their own slavery.  

 

Yet, Daniel is not overcome with all the despair and hopelessness of his situation.  In fact, he seems to thrive in this strange, foreign environment.  How does he do this?  How does a young man alone and far from home keep his wits about him?

 

Here is the story found in Daniel 6:10-23 (NRSV).  The document was a plot by Daniel’s enemies to make illegal prayer to any authority except the King.  

 

Daniel in the Lions’ Den

10 Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. 11 The conspirators came and found Daniel praying and seeking mercy before his God. 12 Then they approached the king and said concerning the interdict, “O king! Did you not sign an interdict, that anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human, within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions?” The king answered, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they responded to the king, “Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the interdict you have signed, but he is saying his prayers three times a day.”

14 When the king heard the charge, he was very much distressed. He was determined to save Daniel, and until the sun went down he made every effort to rescue him. 15 Then the conspirators came to the king and said to him, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no interdict or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

16 Then the king gave the command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” 17 A stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, so that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no food was brought to him, and sleep fled from him.

Daniel Saved from the Lions

19 Then, at break of day, the king got up and hurried to the den of lions. 20 When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Daniel then said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

 

Daniel was fully aware of the risks and penalties of prayer.  He also knew that he could not survive in this foreign environment without the faithfulness of prayer.  So he made his choice preferring to trust in God’s grace instead of the King’s vanity.

 

Prayer is not a Christmas wish list.  God is not a heavenly Santa Claus.  Prayer is not a news report to inform God of how things are going.  God already knows.  Prayer is a tuning of our hearts and minds to God’s heart and mind.

 

Provocative Questions:

1.     What was the character or nature of Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 6?

2.     What disciplines or practices help “tune” your heart and mind to God?

3.     Bill Hybels writes:  “The greatest fulfillment in my prayer life has not been the list of miraculous answers to prayers I have received, although that has been wonderful.  The greatest thrill has been the qualitative difference in my relationship with God.”  (Too Busy Not To Pray, p. 9)  How has prayer enhanced your relationship with God?

 

Application

1.      Try the habit of praying the Breakthrough Prayer sometime each day for the next few weeks – the duration of this study.  You may want to set an alarm on your phone or place the card somewhere you will see it every day.  Here is the prayer:  

2.     Breakthrough Prayer

      “Lord, I pray for breakthroughs in my life, my church, and the world.  Give me faith to see your Spirit at work.  Reveal what you want to do through me.  I trust in your grace in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

To participate in our discussion, please visit this blog post's Permalink: http://www.lewiscenterumc.org/breakthrough-bible-study/week1