Small Beginnings

All the talk about the dead of winter has me thinking about the hope of spring. I have a huge tree in my yard. I know that in the next few weeks, as the weather warms, the branches will sprout little green buds. They will be the first signs of life in that sleeping giant. I know that as the days grow longer, those little buds will grow into huge leaves that will fill every inch of that mammoth with life. It will shade my lawn and my home all summer long. I know because this is the course of nature. It is not wishful thinking, but a hope I can count on. It is a dependable annual cycle.

It is such a great picture of the hope we should have as we pray. When we take our requests to God, we have confidence that he hears us and that he is working in every situation (1 John 5:14). It is his nature to be involved in our lives and active in each request we make. In the same way that the small buds appear on the tree, God’s answer to our prayers may begin in small ways.

God has done some of his greatest works with small beginnings. Abram left his home and family at God’s direction. He had one son, Isaac, who had two sons. Eventually, God made the entire nation of Israel from that one man and his wife. David was the youngest son in the family, left out in the field to tend the sheep. But, God made him King of Israel. Jesus came as a baby in a manger and became the Savior of the world. God accomplished his greatest work by starting with small beginnings.

As we have been looking at the story of Elijah this week, we learned how persistent prayer moves us closer to God. As we focus on God’s promises and remain wholly engaged, prayer will also move us toward hope.

 

1 Kings 18:44a

Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.”

 

When Elijah heard that a small cloud had come up over the sea, he knew that God had acted. In that small beginning, Elijah knew the rain was coming.

 

When we see the changes in our circumstance and in ourselves, we can have hope in God’s working in those small beginnings. Not a wishful hope but a confident expectation, knowing that God is at work. The final results may not be what we initially requested, but our faith will be strengthened because we have recognized God at work.

Questions:
What areas of your prayer life need to be instilled with hope, a confidence that God is working through your prayers?

 

Where have you been looking for big changes and may have missed the small beginnings God is bringing about in your life?

 

Next Steps:
Start a journal where you record the requests you are making to God in prayer. In that journal, provide space where you can record the ways in which God is working in each situation. Include how he is moving in your heart to address the need. Your faith will grow and your hope in prayer will be strengthened as you recognize God at work.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for your promises concerning prayer. Your word tells me that prayer is powerful and productive. Help me to have confidence in the truth that you are working in my life as I pray, and in the lives of those for whom I pray. Help me to see the small beginnings in my own heart as well as in the circumstances of life and to be strengthened in the hope I have in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


This post was written by Terry McGraner. Terry is an engineer at Dana Corporation. He facilitates GrowthTrack and leads a Group at the South Toledo campus. He is married and the father of four adult sons. He loves spending time with his family and communicating the truth of God’s Word to make an impact in the lives of others.


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Keep on Knocking

We LOVE instant gratification. We text someone, say what we need, and get a response without having to have a whole conversation. We hear our favorite band has a new album; we download and listen to it within two minutes of hearing about it. We select our groceries online and pick them up a couple of hours later without leaving the car. When it comes to prayer, we often want Amazon Prime 2-day-shipping results. Imagine this:

“God, please help mend my relationship with my friend.” A day later, no change. “God, please help mend my relationship with my friend.” No change. “Well, I guess it’s not God’s will.”

While we’re giving up, God may already be working on the relationship as an answer to your prayer. God asks us to pray persistently.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Never stop praying. God often answers by changing our hearts as we pray. In the above example, perhaps God’s plan is to help mend the friendship only as a direct result of the fervent prayer and attention you’ve given to the relationship.  

Now, God’s response is not always just about changing our hearts as we pray. God has more power than we can imagine, and he wants us to come to him for everything. In Luke 11, Jesus taught his disciples about the importance of persistence in prayer.

Luke 11:5-10
5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.

9 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 to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

We may not understand God’s plan or timing until things come to fruition and we can reflect back. (Really, we may not ever understand it this side of heaven.) God wants us to pray with all our hearts and to keep praying the same prayer. Continue to pray, even if you don’t see results.

 

Question:

What prayer do you need to be consistent about right now?

 

Have you given up on this prayer before? Why?

 

Next Step:

Write down your prayers including the date you’ve prayed. Document any changes your heart has gone through about the situation, along with any answers or results you’ve seen. When it is revealed to you how God may be answering this prayer, reflect on the whole process to see how God used your persistence.

 

Prayer:

Dear God, please allow me to see how you work in my prayers. Help me to be persistent in my prayers, and allow my heart to be changed according to your will. Help me to reflect on my prayers to better understand your plan for me. Your Word tells us to “devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart (Colossians 4:2). God, help me to do this. Thank you for hearing my prayers and being a God of love, grace, and forgiveness. Amen.


This post was written by Ashlee Grosjean. Ashlee is a former nurse who is now embracing her role as a stay-at-home mom. She is married and has a daughter and a son. She loves writing for this team, and feels she grows a great deal through writing and listening for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. She hopes to help convey God’s message through this study.


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Wholly Engaged

My family often says a prayer before our meals. My mother typically picks one of us at random to say a quick prayer. Even though it was only in front of our small family, I frequently felt anxious when it was my turn. Is my prayer too simple? What is everybody thinking about my prayer?

As I grew older, my anxiety for these family prayers subsided. I used to think people around me expected my prayers to contain profound and sermon-worthy topics which would later be analyzed. In reality, this scrutiny never occurred, and it brings up an important point about prayer: prayer is not an opportunity to show others your devout nature. Rather, it is our way to thank, praise, and petition the Lord.

Matthew 6:5-6
5 When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Unlike the hypocrites, I was not trying to show off during my dinner prayers. Instead, my anxiety stemmed from my inexperience in praying. Regardless, I was like the hypocrites in that I was concerned with how those around me viewed my prayers, and sometimes they became my main target audience. My anxiety should have been relieved knowing that the ultimate receiver of my words is our Lord; sincerity of heart should be my sole concern as I speak these words to God in the presence of my family.

While there are instances in which group prayer is warranted, prayer exists to create a personal relationship between God and me. In order to be wholly engaged in partnership with God, the setting of prayer becomes important. While we may pray sitting in a desk chair or laying on our bed with the lights dimmed, the point is to be dedicated and free of distractions so that we may be rewarded by hearing God’s still, small voice. Speaking to God through prayer is simply one end of the dialogue, and when we are wholly engaged, we will find the connection we are looking for. Just as Jeremiah 29:12-13 states, “In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

 

Questions:
What are you focused on during prayer?

What can I do to become wholly engaged in prayer and avoid distraction?

Next Steps:
Pray to our Lord with sincerity of heart. Find a quiet place where your words may be focused on him and distractions put aside in order to engage in a dialogue.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I pray that my heart may listen and receive your plan to use me today. Keep my heart pure and focused on you when I pray, not concerned with any other audience. Amen.


This post was written by Sandy Tadros. Sandy enjoys serving as a fill-in writer for the LivingItOut.


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Free Pizza

“Who wants to eat a free Pizza Hut pizza every week for a YEAR?” screamed Rich Hall across America in 1986.

“I do!” I replied while eating there with my family one evening.  We each filled out the placemat entry form, and a week later, I received the phone call notifying me of my tasty win! It was a bonus for my then-boyfriend as well, who now was set for date-night! And, for my brothers who ate our leftovers.

What does this have to do with prayer, you may ask. Well, think of it this way. The pizza contest was available to everyone and anyone. The catch was, one had to fill out the entry form. I had to drive to Pizza Hut every week and order my choice of delectable toppings on any number of crusts, on any sized pizza! The promise of the contest was a FREE pizza for 52 weeks. I did not have to go every week (but daddy did not raise a dummy). I did not have to order the extra-large meat lovers with extra cheese and anchovies either, but I often did. I was awarded the prize after putting my name in the drawing, and then I received what had been promised. I believed Pizza Hut would deliver on that promise, and they did.

Now, I am not trying to compare God to Pizza Hut, but what I do know is that I could never have received 52 free meals if I had not put my name in that drawing.

 

James 4:2-3

2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

 

I trusted Pizza Hut to deliver on their promise, and how much more trustworthy is our heavenly Father? His promises are all throughout Scripture. Honestly, if you do an internet search for God’s promises, you will find an extensive list within seconds.

As Ben Snyder pointed out this past weekend, prayer moves us toward God’s promises. I can trust God to follow through on his word. As we grow closer to God through spending time with him in prayer and by reading the Bible, we get to know who he is, and we gain confidence that he hears us and will answer.

 

2 Peter 1:3-4

3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.   

Question:
If you do not pray on a regular basis, what is holding you back?

 

What would it take for you to be confident in God’s promises for you?

 

Next Steps:  
Look up some of God’s promises and write down those that are most meaningful to you. Read through them several times this week, and be confident that God will be true to his word. Not sure where to find God’s promises? Click here for a great list!

 

Prayer:
Father, you are so generous with your love. You lavish your goodness on us. You are faithful to us when we often fail. Help me talk to you regularly in prayer. Give me the confidence I need to trust in you, for you have given us everything we need to live a godly life. Help me to study your Word and know the promises you have for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Julie Roehl. Julie loves God’s Word and CedarCreek and is so very grateful for the love and grace of Jesus. She enjoys grammar, traveling, and tennis. She is married to John, and they are blessed with 7 children.


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Persistence

We often pray and expect immediate results from God. Or we think that we only have to ask once because God knows what is in our hearts and minds. However, prayer is not a magic wand to get whatever we want, even with the best of intentions. Prayer is much bigger than just us; it is part of our relationship with God. Prayer is also one of the means God uses to draw us to himself and to conform us to his will.

Elijah is one of many examples the Bible gives us of persistence in prayer. James 5:17-18 says, “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.” We can read more of Elijah’s story in the Old Testament.

 

1 Kings 18:1, 42-45   
1 Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!”

 

42 … Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees.

43 Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.”

The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.”

Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. 44 Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.”

Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”

45 And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel.

 

God told Elijah that he was going to send rain, and Elijah trusted God to follow through on his word. Elijah prayed until he saw that glimmer of hope on the horizon.

Don’t stop praying! We may think we are being persistent, but in reality, we stop asking after two or three times. Being persistent means continuing firmly over a prolonged period of time! And remember, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think” (2 Peter 3:9). His timing is always perfect.

 

Questions:
How long do you typically pray about an issue before you “give up” or stop asking God?

When we persist in prayer, we don’t forget the prayer because we carry it with us, and it’s in our routine. What do you need to add to your daily routine to be more persistent in your prayers?

Next Steps:
Read Luke 11:9-10 and write down how you think this relates to persistent prayers.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for the example of Elijah persistently praying. May I not give up when answers don’t come when I think they should. Help me to trust you and your perfect timing. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Kaye Althaus. Kaye is honored to be a member of the LivingItOut writing team. In her spare time, she loves to read and do crafts with friends. She and her husband live in the quiet country and raise chickens.


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Our Earnest Prayers

One of my spiritual gifts is intercession, which is a fancy word that means ‘praying for others’. Since I became a Christian, I have always been fascinated with prayer and its power. The first nine months of CedarCreek Church, we spent hours and days praying about what God wanted our church to look like. Until I retired from the church staff at the end of 2013, I prayed every weekend over the seats for the people who would sit in them to hear the gospel message. (Now the members of the band and production teams pray over those seats at each campus! That’s how important prayer is!) Is there power in those prayers? I think so. I think God honors those prayers by guiding our leaders, by protecting us, by letting us grow, and by providing the resources and the people we need to meet the challenges that come as we move forward into the purpose God has for CedarCreek Church.

In those times of prayer as a new church, we always believed that God was bigger than anything we could imagine. We knew that God had amazing plans and purposes for us as individuals as well as us as his church. We were confident that we were praying in accordance to his will because what drove us was the desire to see unchurched and spiritually restless people come into a healthy, vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ! We had to pray. We knew nothing about planting a church. We knew if God didn’t show up for us, nothing would happen. All of our planning would be for nothing.  We had to depend on God alone and trust him to provide everything we would need, and here we are!

Has God laid someone or something on your heart that he would have you make the focus of your prayers for the next several weeks, as Ben suggested? We encourage you to pray for family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers whom God might want you to invite to church this Easter. Maybe God is calling you to intercede for an organization or ministry for which you have a “holy discontent.” If you make that the focus of your prayers, you will most certainly discern how God wants you to be involved in that ministry. Perhaps a friend or loved one is struggling with their health, an addiction, or a relational conflict. Make it your joy to intercede for them with the God of the universe, who loves them, and you, more than you could ever imagine. Remember this series’ memory verse:

James 5:16(b)     
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Be earnest in your prayers this week. You will experience great power and wonderful results, and God will be glorified!

 

Questions:
Who does God want you to pray for in the days and weeks ahead?

Do you trust God to answer your prayers? How has he shown up in the past for you?

 

Next Steps:
Sometimes it is helpful to write out your prayers so you can keep track of the answers. In your journal or notebook this week, write out your specific request and date it. Keep track of your persistence in prayer and how God answers your request.

 

Prayer:
Abba Father, thank you that you love for us to ask for the many blessings you have for us.  We trust in your great mercy and the good gifts you have for each of us. Help us to trust you and to be confident in our prayers. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook.


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Are My Prayers a Blank Check From God?

Today we are looking at the importance of what we are asking in his name.

Have you ever asked God for something, but didn’t get it or didn’t receive the answer you were looking for? How do we cope with the death of a loved one after asking for God to heal them? The Bible says we should keep asking, and we will get it; and we can ask anything, and God will do it. But what if what I want is different than what my wife wants?

While those statements are in the Bible, it is important to read the entire context and look at the words Jesus used in these teachings. Let’s first look at Matthew 7:7-11: “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 to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Again in John 14:14, Jesus himself says “ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” Anything!!! That gives me hope when I pray, “God, please let the Browns win one game next season!”

These verses certainly lead me to believe that if I ask God for $100 million and a private golf course and for my kids to never get sick then those things will happen, right? To answer this question, we need to read the entire passage and dig a little deeper.

Prior to inviting us to ask for anything we can imagine, Jesus says in John 14:12-13, ”I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”

The first requirement is that we believe Jesus is who he said he is and who the Bible says he is – the Son of God, the atonement for our sins, and the only way to eternal life in heaven.

Next, he says that he will do the things we ask, in order to bring glory to God. Does my desire to have millions of dollars bring glory to God? It could, but it is an entirely selfish desire.

Matthew 7:9-11 goes on, “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

It seems obvious that if our children are hungry, we feed them real food instead of telling them to eat dirt. God gives us the things that he knows are best for us. I don’t see any immediate downside to being a millionaire, but it would probably change some of the life choices I make and it would certainly decrease my dependence on God to provide my daily bread.

Then, what about James 4? Doesn’t it say that I don’t have millions because I haven’t asked for millions? Take a closer look. “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure (verses 2-3).

The tone of that passage changed quickly and forced me to look inward. Yes, I am jealous of what other people have. When I pray, am I asking God to provide what is best for me, or am I asking for what I think I want? Why am I asking for it? What are my motives, personal pleasure or God’s glory?

The words of 1 John 5:14-15 provide the instruction and the encouragement we can all use at this point: “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”

 

Questions:
When you pray, consider

  1. Am I asking at all?
  2. How am I asking?
  3. Why am I asking?
  4. What am I asking?

 

Next Steps:
Commit to praying for others, for yourself, and for the things that please God over the next week. If you don’t know where to begin, or how, try this:

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven (connect with God relationally), may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come, may your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven (pray for God’s agenda first). Give us today the food we need (declare dependence on God), and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us (Get your heart right with God and others). And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one (believe in God’s truth over the lies of the enemy).


This post was written by Ryan Cook. Ryan is an executive director for two Chick-fil-A restaurants in Toledo, so if you see him at church and think he looks familiar, that’s where you know him from. He is married with a son and a daughter. Follow him on Twitter @CookfilA.


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What Does God Think About Me?

Today we are looking at Who we are to God.

The Bible describes who someone was by whose son they were. Matthew began the New Testament presenting the genealogy from Abraham to Jesus. Fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies and proving to all Jews that Jesus is the true Messiah by his lineage.

Nowadays, our family trees may only be known through an obituary or birth announcement. Today, we get to know each other all too often only through a Facebook post, Twitter tweet, Instagram picture, Snapchat story, or LinkedIn account. Unfortunately, we often don’t have time for close relationships with each other, let alone close relationships with God. But, how we think God views us impacts our prayers. The truth is, God views us as his children and loves us unconditionally. Even when we sin, i.e. do something wrong, disobey him, or don’t spend enough time with him, he still loves us.

Romans 8:15-17    

15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

 

This verse teaches us so much about the way God views us. When we come to God with our prayers, we don’t have to be fearful! He doesn’t see us as slaves, he views us as his children.  In fact, the term Abba used in these verses, is a term of warm affection confidently expressed by a son or daughter. It has no perfect equivalent in our language, but it is often compared to a child calling their father “Daddy”. The next time you pray, remember that God views you as his child.

 

Questions:
When you think of your relationship with God, how do you believe God sees you?

 

What is the difference between being a slave to God and a child of God?

Next Steps:
Take a moment and reflect on the feelings that a loving daddy has toward their son or daughter. Write them down and think about them throughout today. Share your thoughts with someone else.

Prayer:

Father, thank you for seeing me as your child. I am so blessed to be able to call you Abba father. Help me to clearly see who I am to you and to remember that I am your child even in difficult circumstance or ongoing struggle. Amen


This post was written by the LivingItOut Team and Pam Haynam. Pam is a writer for the LivingItOut Bible Study, a Lead Mentor Mom for Momentum, and a cook for the weekend worship band. She has a passion for education and has served on a public-school board and currently serves on a charter school board. She is married with 3 grown children—two whom are married—and two grandsons.


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Does Your View of God Affect Your Prayers?

Prayer is a means by which we connect with God. When I think about praying, the first prayer that comes to mind is “The Lord’s Prayer.” This prayer is often recited without considering how commanding the words actually are. To make our prayers more effective, today we are concentrating on “to whom” we are praying. Let us look at a few passages from the Bible that will help us to understand to whom we pray.

Matthew 6:9 (NIV)
This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…

I count myself lucky to have had an earthly father that was a truly selfless man. He was a great role model for generations of my family and showed unconditional love, so to pray to a heavenly Father brings good feelings. For others, this is not the case. Their fathers may have been abusive or completely absent. If you had a father like this, it may be difficult to understand that our heavenly Father makes up for everything earthly fathers lack, and then some. He treasures us more than he cherishes any of the creatures on the earth. Being able to call God, “Our Father” is intimate.

Psalm 147:5
How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!

God is the great “I AM,” he is the creator of all things, he is omnipresent, he is all-powerful, he is most high, he is majestic, his name is set apart as holy, he is all-knowing, he is the ultimate authority, and his understanding is beyond measure!

Jeremiah 32:17
O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!

When we pray, we should pause to think about whom we are really praying to. God is the creator of all things. 70 Sextillion stars are in the Universe. That is seven (7) with 22 zeros: 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000! That is only ONE of his creations. He created the earth and all that dwell within it. This should help us to understand that everything we pray for is within his power.

When we look at our prayers and examine them, they actually reveal a lot about our belief in God. If we have small prayers, maybe that is because we believe in a God that is only capable or interested in doing small things in our lives. However, when we know God and understand who he is, we are moved to believe that God can do great things through our prayers.

 

Questions:
Do you realize who HE really is?

Do you know what HE is capable of?

What do your prayers reveal about your belief in God?

 

Next Step:
Jesus’ disciples saw how he prayed and noted his prayer was different from all others. They asked him to teach them to pray. Read Matthew 6:5-13 to learn the model prayer Jesus taught. As you read the verses, journal ideas that will guide you to expand your prayers, noting that God is all-powerful.

 

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, give us wisdom to understand that you are all-powerful and everything we pray for, big or small, is within your power. Grant us courage to recognize your greatness and to use it to help us in our everyday lives. Help us to model our prayers after the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. In your Son’s name, we pray. Amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn is the Real Estate Manager for Hancock County. She has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She feels blessed to be writing for the LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

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More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
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Is Prayer Your Last Resort?

“Huddle around men!” As the pre-mission briefing concluded, my Sergeant called the platoon together. “Sir, you want to pray for us?” As I led the platoon in prayer, thirty heads bowed, including an atheist, Wiccan, Mormon, and several agnostics. Without fail, before every mission that my platoon went on in Afghanistan, we would pray together. Guys who didn’t believe in God, guys who didn’t want anything to do with God, and guys who ignored God in their everyday life back in the states gladly participated.

When I was deployed to Afghanistan, I was always amazed at the willingness of soldiers to participate in prayer, especially when they had such a negative view of God and prayer when we were stateside. It gave me such an insight into the “last resort” view much of our culture has of prayer. For many, it takes the realization that circumstances are truly outside of our control before we consider prayer a viable option.

This past weekend, Ben Snyder began a series called Thoughts and Prayers to address many of the misconceptions of prayer our culture has. Ben looked at the example of Jesus this past weekend to remind us that prayer is not a last resort, but it is something we are called to enter into continually as we follow Christ.

The dictionary defines prayer as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God.” Prayer could also be defined as a verbal way through which we know God.

Unfortunately, even as Christians, we often don’t pray, or stop praying, because we come to think our prayer is ineffective. If we feel like prayer isn’t working, we’ll usually stop and point a finger at a few different things: we’ll either blame God for not listening, being too busy, or not caring; or we’ll blame ourselves, thinking we didn’t ask correctly or we don’t deserve the answer; we might even blame our request, maybe we didn’t use the right words, correct tone of voice, or physical posture.

This past weekend, we encountered Jesus’ reminder to us in Matthew 7 of the effectiveness of prayer.

Matthew 7:7-11    
7 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 to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

What an amazing passage! I am an imperfect father, yet I love my children more than I can put into words, and I want good things for them. I cannot even wrap my mind around the immensity of what God my father has in store for me based on what I want for my own children. As Ben unpacked the passage, he revealed how Jesus is teaching his followers that prayer becomes more effective when we are mindful and aware of three things: who we are talking with, who we are in relation to him (God), and what we are asking in his name. Throughout the rest of the week, we will be diving in and unpacking each of these areas and how they bring effectiveness to our prayers.

As we become more mindful of the above three areas this week, we need to remember that prayer was never a last resort for Jesus. Jesus understood and taught the effectiveness of prayer. Let’s take the opportunity during this series to align our view of prayer with the one Jesus taught and give him the opportunity to reveal to us the effectiveness of our prayers.

 

Questions:
Have you ever given up praying for something because you thought your prayer was ineffective? If so, what did you give up praying for?

How does Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Matthew 7 change your view of prayer?

 

Next Steps:
Begin memorizing the series’ memory verse: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16b).

Identify & begin praying each day for a specific thing, issue, person, circumstance, request, etc.

 

Prayer:
Dear Lord, help me to see the effectiveness of my prayers. I can so easily miss the ways you are working all around me. Open my eyes to see your hand at work over these next couple weeks. Let my view of prayer be shaped by you and not by the world I live in. Thank you for listening and answering. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


This post was written by Alex Woody. Alex is the Director of Students at the West Toledo Campus of CedarCreek Church. He has an amazing wife and two joy-filled daughters who can regularly be found filling the West Toledo lobby with laughter and smiles.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media