Monday, November 14, 2011

This is the Adult Sunday School/International Sunday School/Uniform Series Lesson known by some as Praying as God's People aka The Practice of Prayer on Matthew 6:5-15 for 11-20-11

November 20, 2011 Adult Sunday School on Matthew 6:5-15
Let's talk about prayer.

Jed Greenough

Are you a spectacle?  Do you enjoy it when everyone’s eyes are on you?  Well there is one place you shouldn’t be according to the Lord Himself and that is when you go to the Father in prayer.
Now we aren’t talking about ceasing the prayers we do together in our meetings, Sunday School, groups and times of worship.  No, we are talking about when others are going about their lives or their meetings, Sunday School etc. and someone throws what everyone else is doing aside and breaks into a public spectacle of their own prayer. 
You see my suspicions are that just like other instructions we received through the scriptures about worship, when it comes to prayer, our God is one of order and not chaos. 
These instructions won’t matter a great deal to the hypocrite that Christ mentions because it’s usually all about them anyway.  But for those that have kind of grown comfortable in the practice but truly are interested in worshiping Him in spirit and in truth there it is, He doesn’t like it.
So what does He like?  This may sound stupid but it is what came to me and stuck there so here it goes.  He wants you to pray in a way that measures your words almost as if He were someone who didn’t have all the time in the world, though He does.  Imagine that you had the opportunity to talk with the most important man or woman in the world, let’s say the head of your country. Envision that you had something to talk about with them that were of the utmost importance. I am sure you know that a person at this level of power would have a very tight, structured schedule and that your time would be limited.  You would choose your words wisely and I am sure you would treat them with the greatest decorum.
Now this really isn’t the greatest analogy but I am sure you get the point that though God always has time for you He is still this holy God of order that we should approach with the greatest reverent awe.
Christ indicates that we should approach Him thus and after coming to Him in this way acknowledge that no matter what, it is His creation and it is His will that really matters in the end.  Ask Him for what you truly need.  Ask Him for forgiveness never forgetting to do likewise.  And finally ask for His assistance as you walk in this fallen world.
I think that this is a good reminder to us that maybe in our zeal and love for Him we tend to bring Him down to our level and forget that as Isaiah 55:9 tells us the difference between His ways and ours and His thoughts and ours are like the difference between the heavens and earth.  That’s the way we should want Him to be and that’s the way He is.  We just need to act like it.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7
Stand in Awe of God
 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.  Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.  As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.  When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.  It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.  Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?  Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.

For Discussion:

1.     None of this is said to suggest we pray less just that the Bible indicates there is an orderly way to pray to an awesome God of order.
2.     Do a concordance study of prayer.
3.     Read several scriptures in your group concerning prayer.  Some suggestions: Romans 8:26-27, 2 Chronicles 7:14, James 5:16.
4.     Read and discuss some of David’s prayers in the Psalms.
5.     Not everyone will agree with my view obviously, discuss people’s viewpoints on prayer.
6.     Discuss how we may have inadvertently lowered our prayer standards and what might be done to raise those standards.
7.     Though Christ gives us a pattern here in today’s scripture for prayer, obviously it is not an all-inclusive one.  Clearly there are other things such as thanksgiving that should go into our daily prayers.

Hebrews 5:7
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

11-27-11:  Facing Life without Worry (Don’t Worry About Tomorrow), Matthew 6:25-34
12-4-11:    A Blessing for All Nations (God’s Call to Bless), Genesis 12:1-9
12-11-11:  A Promise to Abraham (A Covenant with God), Genesis 15:1-6, 12-18
12-18-11:  The Lord Provides (The Challenge to Commitment), Genesis 22:1-2, 6-14 or 22:1-14
12-25-11:  According to the Promise (Mary’s Song of Praise), Luke 1:46-55 or 1:46-66; 2:1-7

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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