Always Pray & Never Give Up! Rich Nathan Just Pray! Series Sermon Text - Ephesians 6:18 November 1-2, 2014
Attention Leaders! Be prepared for God to speak to your group. The Holy Spirit is with you as you prepare, as you open Scripture, and as you lead discussion. Prayerfully consider the needs of your group; who will be there; and what God has done recently in your group. Remember, aim for balancing discussion and teaching; more sharing than answering; and more listening than telling.
Sermon Summary (Time Suggestion: 5 minutes) These notes are to help you give your group a quick recap of the weekend sermon in your own words. If God spoke to you personally through the message, be sure to share that, as well.
Have you ever prayed for something or someone, not just once or twice or three times, but dozens of times, or maybe hundreds of times? When we encounter significant needs and difficult situations, we find ourselves praying more intentionally and intensely. But we come to quickly find that prayer is not magic. There aren’t magic words that we pray, a certain intensity that our loudness that we need, or specific postures that we choose that will get our prayers answered. What we learn from praying and bringing our needs to God our Father is that prayer isn’t only about changing our circumstances but it is also about changing us! Over the past several months, Pastor Rich has been feeling a strong call from the Lord for our entire church to engage in a greater way in prayer. And this weekend he started a new series entitled, “Just Pray!” For the next three weeks, we will be taking a closer look at Ephesians 6:18 – just one verse but one that is filled with insight into to how and why we should pray. This verse contains the final weapon that Paul spoke about in Ephesians 6 – the armor of God – that we spent several weeks discussing in the Story of the Kingdom. In v. 18, Paul mentions the word “all” 4 times in reference to how and why we pray
Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. This week we’ll be discussing two of the “alls”: • •
Pray in the Spirit on all occasions Always keep on praying
These can be summed up by: Pray all the time and never give up! So what does it mean to pray in the Spirit? To pray in the Spirit is to pray: • • • • •
In harmony with the Spirit-inspired Bible In accordance with the budging of the Holy Spirit With the guidance of the Spirit Under the leading of the Spirit In submission to the Holy Spirit
What is the purpose of prayer? It’s not to gain “stuff”, but if most of us were honest, that’s often how we pray! The purpose of prayer is… •
To gain Christ which means to o To open the door to Christ § “To pray if nothing more involved than to open the door, giving Jesus access to our needs and permitting him to exercise his own power in dealing with them. To pray is to open the door to Jesus.” – Ole Hallesby o To grow in relationship with Christ § You aren’t going to have a very deep relationship with God unless you communicate with him! To embrace the person of Christ means… o To embrace the character of Christ (Gal. 4:19) o To embrace the counsel of Christ (Psalm 127:1) o To embrace the composure of Christ (Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7) o To embrace the kingdom of Christ § “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
What does it mean to pray all the time? It means that we don’t need a special place to pray. It’s good if you have a preferred place to pray and preferred order, but it isn’t necessary. We can pray everywhere we are and at any time!
And we don’t need to feel a certain thing or be in a certain mood either. “We should pray when we’re in a praying mood, for it would be a sin to neglect so fair an opportunity. We should pray when we’re not in a praying mood, for it would be dangerous to remain in so unhealthy a condition.” – Charles Spurgeon So we pray regardless of how we feel. So why do we always pray? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
We always have access to God. We always have needs. Others always have needs. Satan is always at work. Your pastor and your church always need your prayers.
Finally, Pastor Rich is going to start a practice once a day on Twitter and Facebook to ask you to take 10-20 seconds to pray for him, for the church, and for Vineyard’s leaders. If you don’t currently follow him on Twitter or are not friends with him on Facebook, he asks that you do!
Link to the Sermon (Time suggestion 5 minutes) •
When you think of prayer, what comes to mind? (e.g. folded hands, closed eyes, complete silence, solitude, boring, difficult, etc.)
What are the circumstances where you find yourself praying the most often? (e.g. before a presentation, when you have a financial need, when you’re sick, etc.)
This Week’s Bible Study Text: Luke 11:1-13 Background This passage is one of many passages in the gospel of Luke that record what Jesus taught his disciples. What makes this passage unique is that this is the only case in Luke where the disciples ask Jesus to teach them anything. Since this is Jesus’ response to the disciples’ request for teaching on prayer, we can assume that what Jesus says here is what he thinks is most important for us to know about prayer.
Study & Discuss Read Luke 11:1-13 To help increase participation in your group, ask two people to read this passage out loud. Break it up verses 1-8 & 9-13. 1. Look at Luke 11:1. What do learn about how Jesus prayed in this verse? What do we learn about the disciples? Why do you think they asked Jesus how to pray? We don’t learn anything about how he prayed in this verse other than he prayed. It seems that the disciples were intrigued and hungered to pray like Jesus. They recognized that Jesus knew how to pray and weren’t ashamed to ask for help. 2. Many of us struggle with prayer, but many of us have never asked Jesus for help in praying. Why do you think that is? 3. There are all different types of prayers that we see in the Bible and maybe you learned at one point or heard about. In vv. 2-4, what kind of prayer(s) does Jesus teach his disciples? Worship/adoration, confession, thanksgiving, intercession/supplication/requests, etc. 4. What types of prayers do you find yourself praying the most often? 5. What does Jesus tell his disciples to ask for in prayer? How often do you think we need to ask for these things? There are five requests in Jesus’ prayer. “Hallowed be your name”, “your kingdom come”, “give us our daily bread”, “forgive us our sins”, and “deliverance from temptation.” This is something we should pray for every day because it is a reminder that we are completely dependent on him! Each day we need every one of these things. 6. If you look at the pronouns in this prayer, it seems to be a communal prayer to be prayed together – “Our Father”… How often do you pray with others? What kinds of prayers do you pray together? Can you share an example?
7. In Luke 11:5-8, Jesus tells a story to make a point about prayer. This story recounts an incident involving three friends. Imagine yourself as one of the characters. Given the circumstances, how would you feel? What would you do? A few things to note: 1. In hot climates like the Middle East, one might travel at night to avoid the heat of the day. 2. There were no good ways to store prepared food so it wouldn’t be a surprise that the host did not have any food for his/her guest. And there were no 24/7 stores available. Since hospitality was highly valued in Jesus’ culture, it would be very embarrassing to not be able to feed a guest. 8. How do vv. 9-10 help us understand the parable Jesus told? 9. Jesus’ story is supposed to teach us something about our prayers to God. What do you think we are supposed to learn from this story? What are we NOT supposed to learn from it? This story is a parable and parable usually only has one main point of connection. In this parable the main point is that the neighbor was rewarded for asking with “shameless audacity”. Boldness. Other translations say “persistence”. Jesus wants us to learn that we are to pray with boldness, without shame of having to ask for help when we are helpless. We are NOT supposed to learn that God is any of these characters. He isn’t like the neighbor who is clearly bothered by asking for help. He is never asleep and never too busy to help us in our time of need. The prayer that he taught his disciples just a few verses earlier are filled with requests that we are to ask God for. 10. How do vv. 11-13 help us better understand the parable and ultimately, God’s heart in answering our prayers? In what way is he better than any of the three characters or anyone else we know for that matter? 11. What picture do you have of God as you pray and ask him for help? Is your idea of God more like the sleeping neighbor or the images in vv.11-13? 12. How might this teaching change your view of God? 13. How might this teaching change your view of prayer?
Ministry Time Take some time at the end of your group to welcome the Holy Spirit and seek Him for direction as you pray for one another. When we make space for Him, God is pleased to come and show Himself to us in our groups, and to genuinely touch and change us, often in powerful ways.
With the question of how do we see God when we pray can come some significant responses and realizations. Create some space for people in your group to either pray silently to God about the image of God that they see or maybe give out some blank paper for people to journal about it.
Ask the group to think of one part of their day where they would like to become more aware of God’s presence in their life through prayer. Have your group pair up to pray and have them share this with another person. Commit to pray for each other for the week and check back in at the next small group.