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THURSDAY – How We Can Change, Part I
Big Point: We have to want our sins to go away, otherwise we make it comfortable for them to stay.
The prayer that begins with trustfulness, and passes on into waiting, will always end in thankfulness, triumph, and praise.
– Alexander MacLaren
Happy New Year! Welcome the Year of our Lord 2015!
In many parts of the world, it is customary to make New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of a new year. People resolve to make changes in their lives, hoping to make the coming year better than the last. Are you a New Year’s resolutions-maker? If so, have your past resolutions been successful? Or do you find that you’re not very good at achieving them? Maybe a better way to bring about change in your life is to start the new year asking God to lead you in a closer walk with Him for His purposes through prayer.
Prayer is the first step in leading our hearts to God. But, knowing how to pray is not common knowledge. Even the disciples asked for help, “Lord teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1) When a person is born again in Christ, the life of the son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. Prayer is the way that the life of God in us is nourished. Our common ideas regarding prayer are not found in the New Testament. For example, we often look on prayer simply as a means of getting what we want. In contrast, the biblical purpose of prayer is so we may get to know God, Our Father, Himself.
In Scripture, Jesus teaches the disciples, and us, to pray by praising God first. Then he made his requests. Praising God first puts us in a frame of mind to talk with Him about our needs. Too often our prayers are more like shopping lists than conversations. We complain before God, and sometimes we are apologetic or indifferent to Him, but we actually ask Him for very few things. Yet a child exhibits a magnificent boldness to ask! Our Lord said, “…unless you…become like little children…” (Matthew 18:3) So we must ask in that way, and God will do it. Give Jesus the opportunity and the room to work. The problem is most of us won’t do this until we are desperate.
When a person is at wit’s end, the barriers come down and it no longer seems cowardly to pray; in fact, it is the only way we can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. Be yourself before God and present Him with your problems–the very things that have brought you to Him. But as long as you think you are self-sufficient, you will miss out on this great gift from God.
READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?
1. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he made forgiveness the cornerstone of their relationship with God. God has forgiven our sins; we must now forgive those who have wronged us. To remain unforgiving shows we have not understood that we, too, are deeply in need of forgiveness.
Question: Think of some people who have wronged you. How will God deal with you if you refuse to offer them forgiveness?
Luke 11:2-4 (New Living Translation)
2 Jesus said, “This is how you should pray: “Father may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. 3 Give us each day the food we need, 4 and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin
against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.
- Persistence, or boldness, in prayer overcomes our insensitivity not God’s. To practice persistence does more to change our hearts and minds than His, and it helps us understand and express the intensity of our need. Persistence in prayer helps us recognize God’s work and our total dependence upon Him.
Question: A child exhibits a magnificent boldness to ask. List ways to make your prayers more childlike.
Luke 11:9 (New Living Translation)
And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking; and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened.
- Even though good fathers make mistakes, they treat their children well. How much better our perfect Heavenly Father treats His children!
Question: What is the most important gift our Heavenly Father could give us?
Luke 11:11-13 (New International Version)
11 Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will you give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
LIVE… What will you do now?
Think back to the last time you were at your wit’s end? How did you handle the situation? Would you handle it differently now? What would you do?
Why do we do the things we don’t want to do, and don’t do the things we’d like to do?
What would you like to change in your life? Do you think prayer can help you make that change? Are your prayers as bold as a child’s?
PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
Try this prayer: Lord of all creation, we praise You and love You greatly. Give us the strength to boldly do Your work. Help us to forgive. And teach us to love each other. In Your name we pray. Amen.
Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:
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