2 The Essentials of Effective Prayer Kay Arthur, David & BJ Lawson PRECEPT MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL
3 THE ESSENTIALS OF EFFECTIVE PRAYER PUBLISHED BY WATERBROOK PRESS Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200 Colorado Springs, Colorado All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible. Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, Used by permission. ( ISBN Copyright 2007 by Precept Ministries International All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Published in the United States by WaterBrook Multnomah, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc., New York. WATERBROOK and its deer colophon are registered trademarks of Random House Inc. Printed in the United States of America SPECIAL SALES Most WaterBrook Multnomah books are available at special quantity discounts when purchased in bulk by corporations, organizations, and special-interest groups. Custom imprinting or excerpting can also be done to fit special needs. For information, please or call
4 HOW TO USE THIS STUDY This small-group study is for people who are interested in learning for themselves more about what the Bible says on various subjects, but who have only limited time to meet together. It s ideal, for example, for a lunch group at work, an early morning men s group, a young mothers group meeting in a home, a Sunday-school class, or even family devotions. (It s also ideal for small groups that typically have longer meeting times such as evening groups or Saturday morning groups but want to devote only a portion of their time together to actual study, while reserving the rest for prayer, fellowship, or other activities.) This book is designed so that all the group s participants will complete each lesson s study activities at the same time. Discussing your insights drawn from what God says about the subject reveals exciting, life-impacting truths. Although it s a group study, you ll need a facilitator to lead the study and keep the discussion moving. (This person s function is not that of a lecturer or teacher. However, when this book is used in a Sundayschool class or similar setting, the teacher should feel free to lead more directly and to bring in other insights in addition to those provided in each week s lesson.) If you are your group s facilitator, the leader, here are some helpful points for making your job easier: Go through the lesson and mark the text before you lead the group. This will give you increased familiarity with the material and will enable you to facilitate the group with greater ease. It may be easier for you to lead the group through the instructions for marking if you, as a leader, choose a specific color for each symbol you mark.
5 iv How to Use This Study As you lead the group, start at the beginning of the text and simply read it aloud in the order it appears in the lesson, including the insight boxes, which appear throughout. Work through the lesson together, observing and discussing what you learn. As you read the Scripture verses, have the group say aloud the word they are marking in the text. The discussion questions are there simply to help you cover the material. As the class moves into the discussion, many times you will find that they will cover the questions on their own. Remember, the discussion questions are there to guide the group through the topic, not to squelch discussion. Remember how important it is for people to verbalize their answers and discoveries. This greatly strengthens their personal understanding of each week s lesson. Try to ensure that everyone has plenty of opportunity to contribute to each week s discussions. Keep the discussion moving. This may mean spending more time on some parts of the study than on others. If necessary, you should feel free to spread out a lesson over more than one session. However, remember that you don t want to slow the pace too much. It s much better to leave everyone wanting more than to have people dropping out because of declining interest. If the validity or accuracy of some of the answers seems questionable, you can gently and cheerfully remind the group to stay focused on the truth of the Scriptures. Your object is to learn what the Bible says, not to engage in human philosophy. Simply stick with the Scriptures and give God the opportunity to speak. His Word is truth (John 17:17)!
6 THE ESSENTIALS OF EFFECTIVE PRAYER Do you pray? Really, do you pray? How often? How effective do your prayers seem to be? Do you question whether your prayer life is all it should be? Do you ever wonder if God still answers when people pray? Do you worry that you don t truly understand what prayer really is? If you ve asked yourself these questions, you are not alone. Almost all of us have questioned at some time what prayer really is and how or if it really works. In this study we will discover the answers to these questions as we examine what Scripture teaches about prayer and consider how to apply those truths to our own lives.
7 2 The Essentials of Effective Prayer We also will explore the connection between prayer and pleasing God. A. W. Tozer, a man known for the vitality of his prayer life, once wrote, What the praying man does is to bring his will into line with the will of God so God can do what He has all along been willing to do. 1 For the next six weeks we will learn how to bring our will in line with the will of God. We hope that by the end of this study your prayer life will be more exciting and vibrant than ever before. WEEK ONE 1 A. W. Tozer, The Price of Neglect, comp. Harry Verploegh (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1991),
8 WEEK ONE We know prayer has to do with communicating with God, but what exactly does that look like? What s the point of praying? Does a sovereign God really care about our concerns? And if He does, how should we approach Him? What sort of things do we ask for or talk to Him about? This week we ll try to understand the nature and purpose of prayer by examining some people of prayer and references to prayer in the Bible. OBSERVE James, the brother of Jesus, in his New Testament letter mentioned one of the great men of prayer from the Old Testament: Elijah. Leader: Read James 5:16b 18. Have the group say aloud and mark the words prayer and prayed with a P. As you read the text, it s helpful to have the group say the key words aloud as they mark them. This way everyone will be sure they are marking every occurrence of the word, including any synonymous words or phrases. Do this throughout the study. JAMES 5:16B The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
9 4 The Essentials of Effective Prayer DISCUSS What did you learn from marking the references to prayer in this passage? Have you ever had an experience like Elijah s? Do you feel that your prayers accomplish much? Explain your answer. Elijah was a man like us, but his prayer life was unlike most of ours. It is a little intimidating, isn t it? Over the next six weeks we will see what it takes to transform our prayer life into one like Elijah s. 1 KINGS 8:27 30, But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built! OBSERVE Let s look at a prayer offered by King Solomon, the third king of ancient Israel, at the dedication of the first temple of God in Jerusalem. Leader: Read 1 Kings 8:27 30, Have the group say aloud and
10 Week One 5 put an S over each reference to Solomon. Since he is speaking in this passage, watch carefully for pronouns and synonyms that refer to him, including the phrase Your servant. mark every reference to prayer with a P, including synonyms such as supplication, cry, and spreading his hands. INSIGHT Supplication in this passage refers to a request for favor or grace. DISCUSS What did you learn from marking the references to Solomon? 28 Yet have regard to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Your servant prays before You today; 29 that Your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which You have said, My name shall be there, to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. What did you learn from marking the references to prayer in this passage? 30 Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive.
11 6 The Essentials of Effective Prayer 38 whatever prayer or supplication is made by any man or by all Your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart, and spreading his hands toward this house; 39 then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know, for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men. How did Solomon characterize God s relationship with His people? What was he asking of God? Discuss the synonyms for prayer that you marked in this passage. What do they reveal about the nature of prayer? OBSERVE The book of Psalms is a collection of songs and prayers for the people of God. We will look at three psalms of David. The first was written when he fled from Absalom, his son who led a conspiracy to take not only David s throne but also his life (2 Samuel 15).
12 Week One 7 Leader: Read Psalm 3:1 5 aloud. Have the group put a D over each occurrence of the pronouns my, me, him, and I when they refer to David, who is speaking in this passage. put a P over the phrase crying to the Lord. INSIGHT The word selah appears frequently in the psalms. Its meaning is unclear, but many scholars believe selah is a musical term indicating a pause in the music. DISCUSS What did you learn about David in verses 1 and 2? How would you describe his emotions at this point? PSALM 3:1 5 1 O LORD, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. 2 Many are saying of my soul, There is no deliverance for him in God. Selah. 3 But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. 4 I was crying to the LORD with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah. 5 I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me. The word but in verse 3 signals a contrast, a change in direction. According to verses 4 and 5, what actions did David take in the
13 8 The Essentials of Effective Prayer midst of his enemies and their taunting, and why did he pursue this course of action? What phrase is used in this passage to describe prayer? When God answered David s prayer, how did David respond? What shift does this indicate from the emotions he felt at the start of the prayer? Think of a time you felt worried or oppressed, when it seemed all the odds were against you. What did you do? Leader: Invite someone in the group to share such a situation from their personal experience and describe how they responded. Discuss what you ve learned about prayer from this passage and how you can apply it to your life.
14 Week One 9 OBSERVE Leader: Read aloud Psalm 4:1 5. Have the group put a P over every reference to prayer, including the phrases when I call and meditate in your heart. mark every reference to God, including pronouns and synonyms, with a triangle: DISCUSS Once again David was clearly in a stressful situation. How did he respond? What did he expect God to do in regard to his prayer? On what did David base his expectation? What did you learn about God from this passage? What did you observe about our emotions in connection with prayer, according PSALM 4:1 5 1 Answer me [David] when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; be gracious to me and hear my prayer. 2 O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? Selah. 3 But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself; the LORD hears when I call to Him. 4 Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
15 10 The Essentials of Effective Prayer 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and trust in the LORD. to verses 4 and 5? What choice do we have other than denying our emotions or giving in to them? Explain your answer. How can you apply what you have just learned about prayer the next time you encounter a stressful situation? PSALM 5:1 3 1 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my groaning. 2 Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray. 3 In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. OBSERVE We ve seen that when David encountered stressful situations, rather than giving in to his fears or focusing on his circumstances, he called out to God and trusted in Him. The result was peace in the midst of the difficulty as David offered up a sacrifice of righteousness. Now let s look at one more example from this man of prayer. Leader: Read Psalm 5:1 3 aloud. Have the group put a D over each occurrence of the pronouns my and I, which refer to David, who is speaking in this passage. put a P over every reference to prayer, including synonyms such as my words, my groaning, and my cry.
16 Week One 11 DISCUSS Discuss what you learned about David and his character from this passage. What were his first thoughts each day? What did you learn from marking the references to prayer? What was David praying for, and what did he expect to happen? Leader: If time permits, invite someone to share with the group how they plan to apply the teachings of this passage to their own life. OBSERVE So far we ve seen prayer described as crying out to God. Crying out in pain, in fear, in desperation. Most of us can identify with that kind of prayer. But prayer isn t limited to crying out for help in times of trouble; it can serve an even greater purpose, as we ll see in the next few passages. First, let s look at some verses from Isaiah, in which God describes what s wrong with the prayers of the people of Jerusalem. Although this is a negative example, it serves
17 12 The Essentials of Effective Prayer to teach us another way to describe what prayer is really about. ISAIAH 29: Then the Lord said, Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, 14 therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed. Leader: Read Isaiah 29:13 14 aloud. Have the group circle every reference to the people, including pronouns. put a Pover the phrases draw near and honor me. DISCUSS What did you learn from marking the references to the people in the passage? How did the people draw near to God? Were their hearts in it? Explain your answer. In this context what does draw near mean? How did God feel about the people drawing near? What was His response?
18 Week One 13 Would God answer their prayers? Why or why not? Discuss how this passage might be relevant to our worship services and prayer life today. OBSERVE Leader: Read Hebrews 4:14 16; 7:25; and 10:19 22 aloud. Have the group say and circle each occurrence of the pronouns we, us, and our, which refer to believers. mark each reference to Jesus, including pronouns such as He and Him and synonyms such as high priest and One, with a cross: put a P over the phrase draw near. DISCUSS What did you learn from marking the references to believers in these verses? What do we have, and what are we to do? HEBREWS 4: Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
19 14 The Essentials of Effective Prayer 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For what purpose(s) would we draw near to the throne of God? HEBREWS 7:25 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. What gives us the confidence to approach Him? HEBREWS 10: Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, What did you learn about prayer from these verses? 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,
20 Week One 15 Discuss what we can expect when we pray and how this applies to your own prayer life. 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
21 16 The Essentials of Effective Prayer WRAP IT UP Have you listened to others pray and felt intimidated because their words sounded so well composed? Relax. Prayer doesn t require an appointment, it doesn t require proper attire, and it doesn t even require proper grammar. As David s example shows, prayer is as natural as crying out. Crying out and telling God what is on your heart. Crying out and telling God what you need. Crying out and making supplication. What is prayer? Prayer is simply drawing near to God and talking with Him. As we read in Hebrews 4, we have access to Him through our high priest, Jesus Christ. Because of Him, we can enter the throne room of heaven and draw near to God. There we can cry out, we can ask for help, we can lay our troubles at His feet. Then, as David demonstrated in psalms 3 and 4, we can rest because we know the Lord sustains us. This week set aside some time to cry out to God about the concerns of your heart. Draw near to Him and enjoy His presence. Leader: If you have time, pause for the group to pray silently. Encourage them to cry out to God about the concerns of their hearts. Encourage them to draw near to Him and enjoy His presence. After a few minutes of silence, close in prayer, asking God to teach your group to pray.
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Color your Blessings Artwork by Denise Urban All Scripture quotations are used by permission and are from the following editions: The ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version ), copyright 2001
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Praise for The Fight of Your Life Jeffrey Dean reminds us that the culture surrounding today s teens is changing just as fast as the technology. Parents need to read this book today. MIKE YORKEY, co-author
PSALMS - The SONGS Thirty-two Instruction on Confessing Sin READ AND OBSERVE Read through Psalm 32 and mark every reference to the LORD, including pronouns and synonyms, with a red triangle. Read through
Reflection Mountains, a common biblical image, are sacred places: a place of prayer, a geography of the sacred, a circumstance that sets us apart from the busyness of daily life. Jesus spent time in mountains
breathe series BABYLON facilitator s guide Shawna Songer Gaines Copyright 2017 by Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City PO Box 419527 Kansas City, MO 64141 www.beaconhillbooks.com
HOW TO STAND FIRM WHEN TESTED i In & Out 1 PETER How to Stand Firm When Tested ISBN 978-1-62119-242-8 1986, 1988, 2003, 2013, 2016 Precept Ministries International. All rights reserved. This material is
The Call of Moses Exodus 2:11-4:20 How could a burning bush be part of God s promise? Are you sometimes afraid? Why was Moses afraid? Prayer Heavenly Father, we know Your promises and that You never fail
Accept What God Allows Our Focus: When God speaks to your situation, what do you do? When God acts on a problem, and His actions are not to your liking, what do you do? When you ve done all that you can