Obedience in Prayer
DVD Opening (5 mins)
What is your understanding of the connection between our prayers, our obedience to God and his Word, and the way in which God responds to our prayers?
If we have things in our life which we put before God, then it is like putting a wall between us and him. There is a break in communication. God can’t look upon sin. While Christ died on the cross for my sin, we need to confess our sin to him each time we come to prayer. We need to pray the Holy Spirit would convict us of our sin so we can confess it, ask forgiveness and then pray to God that He would use our time together to pray for what we came to him for.
DVD Teaching Segment 1 (7 Mins)
As we listen to this video segment, listen for the following things
Fighting the attacks of the enemy
The truth about underhanded dealing with God
Walking in the light.
Watch the video
Group Exploration (12 mins)
Jim speaks about prayer in terms of it being a battleground where Satan consistently targets his attacks against Christians. What do you think Satan is trying to accomplish by this strategy, and how effective is it?
I believe he is trying to drive a wedge between us and God. If he can keep us from truly following Him, he has won a huge battle. While we know the victory of the war is ours through the salvation we have in our Savior, there are many battles being lost due to our unconfessed sin.
Why does God refuse to hear us and bless us when we choose to keep practicing sin rather than obeying his Word?
Once again, when we have sin in our life, God is unable to look or listen to us. We need to ask him to forgive us when we have these moments.
What is the problem when we think we can hide our sin and “fool” God into blessing us anyway?
We end up being the fool. I don’t think we fully comprehend who God is when we think we can hide things from him. He is ever-present and always with us. He knows are very thoughts. How scary is that?
As we grow in prayer and seek the blessings God has for us, why is it so important that we confess our sins to God and keep asking him to reveal any unconfessed sins in our lives?
These sins are what keep us from fully knowing the power we have behind our prayers. Sin known or unknown, is still sin. We need to pray the Spirit would make us conscious of what we are doing.
What is easy about confessing our sin on a regular basis?
We can ask forgiveness right when we are convicted of it. It doesn’t take a dissertation to ask forgiveness, just a humbled heart.
What about it is difficult?
There is a certain amount of control we will give up in our lives if we are truly living a life for God. When He tells us to do something, we will do it. There won’t be question. We should hear it and do it.
I also think there are times we have been doing something for so long, that it no longer appears as sin to us, but it is just accepted. Accepted by who? If it was sin in the past, it is sin now. I think there are times that we also look at some things as sin which really aren’t. We need to be very careful how we judge. Sometimes what we see as sin might be to us because it will become a god to us, but for someone else, it could be okay.
It is easy for us to minimize the seriousness of our sin. We can easily convince ourselves that our sin doesn’t really matter if no one knows about it or if it doesn’t really hurt anyone. If we can keep our sin hidden from view, we tend to think were home free. God, however, has a different view. In the following Scripture passages, not ho seriously God views the sin of his people and how strongly he warns of the consequences of ongoing disobedience, particularly in reference to prayer.
In the vision he gave to Ezekiel, how did God promise he would respond to the idolatrous people of Judah?
Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.”
When you present your gifts and offer up your children in fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, declares the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you.
He would punish them for committing the sins against him. He will also refuse to hear them when they are crying about what is going on since they continue to commit the same sins.
According to the prophet Isaiah, how did God say he would respond to the prayers of his people if they continued to disobey him?
When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
He won’t hear them. There is a divide between his people and him due to the sins they are committing.
Given the gravity of our isn in God’s eyes, we can be grateful that God is as abundant in mercy as he is serious about sin. How des he respond when, with sincere, repentant hearts, we request his mercy?
if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we come to him with a heart that is truly repentant, and not a heart that is sorry it got caught, then he will forgive our sins and hear us.
According to , what is absolutely necessary for empowered prayer?
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
That we confess our sins the Holy Spirit is convicting us of and we come to God with a truly repentant heart. To me, this is one of the first steps in prayer where we ask the Holy Spirit to help us. That he convict us of our sin that stands between us and God so that we can ask forgiveness and the shed blood of Christ would cover us so that our Lord will not only hear us, but look on us with love.
DVD Prayer Story (12 mins)
What happens to our relationship with God and other people when we, like Craig, harbor bitterness or other sins?
Those sins interfere with our relationship with God. We allow those sins to become lord of our life and our focus in drawn to them instead of the one who can help us to work through them. It also affects the way we deal with other people around us. The bitterness will seep into our relationships with other people.
What evidence did you see that Craig’s bitterness against his father affected his relationship with God?
He had a hard heart towards God and prayer. He would hear his mother pray for his father and thought she was wasting her time. He also was very guarded around people and how he would let them into his world.
What blessings began to flow as Craig opened up before God in prayer, confessed his anger, and dealt with his bitterness?
He was able to reach a place where he was able to forgive his dad and have no bitter feelings toward him. His relationships with others grew deeper was well to that he was able to mentor other kids.
How deeply and for how long had Craig needed that blessing?
Since childhood. He had fostered these feelings into his adulthood which was holding him back from the ministry and blessings that God had in store for him. Once he opened up to God and was honest about his feelings, God was able to work him through them to get him to a place he was able to forgive his father and move to a place when his father was dying, he felt compassion for him.
Why do you think it is so easy for us to discount our need to confess our sins and keep trying to survive on our own instead of bringing our sins to God and asking for his forgiveness and healing?
There are times, even though some of us were raised in Christian homes, that we can do things ourselves. We can’t rely on anyone else to get the job done, so we need to do it on our own. I think it is also hard for us to admit when we’ve made a mistake. There are times when we rate our sins as well and think that our sins are so much smaller than someone else’s. No matter how “small the sin,” Christ had to die for it. How big is that?
DVD Teaching Segment #2
As we listen to this second section, listen for the following things.
The privileges of walking in the light
Unexpected preparation for a critical moment
Drawn aside for special times of prayer
Group Exploration 2
In what ways is preparatory prayer distinct from our daily prayer life, and in what way is it connected with our daily prayer life?
I think when we enter a season like this, we won’t know what it is God is preparing us for. We just need to be faithful and let the Holy Spirit lead us in that time of prayer. It is also connected to our daily prayer life in that all of our prayers should be directed by him. We need to pray even during our daily prayers that God would give us what we are going to need to get us through whatever it is we are going to face that day.
What is the purpose of preparatory prayer, and why is it so important to spend time in this type of prayer when God directs us to do so?
This type of prayer is important as God is using it to draw us to him and to give us strength for something big that may be coming our way. If we don’t pay attention, we will go into this big thing God is prepping us for weak.
Like the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, we have no clue when critical things in our life are about to happen. Discuss some of the ways you anticipate that preparatory prayer could help you face critical moments in your life.
What could be at risk if you miss out on the times of preparatory prayer God makes available to you?
Your Christian witness. I think there may be times when we would still physically live, but our spiritual life could be greatly harmed by these events if we don’t take the time to pray ourselves up when gives us those opportunities.
Jim said, “As we stay open to the Lord and feeling those wooings and drawings to spend time with him, let’s obey them.” How does he communicate those wooings and drawings to us?
There are times in our lives where we come to stopping points. It’s when we reach those we need to be sensitive to the Spirit and see if he is leading us to a time of preparatory prayer. If so, it’s important that we take that time to get closer to God and the Spirit for the things he is getting ready to open up to us.
How do we cultivate our sensitivity to them and learn to distinguish them from our own thoughts and desires?
It takes practice and some successes and failures. I would always be the one to heir on the side of caution to make sure that I pray in the times when I suspect it is the Sprit moving me into a time when I need to pray to him for guidance and strength in the days ahead. As we see more and more of those times when it is the Spirit, we will have an easier time recognizing them for what they are.