“God is my best Friend,” Judy said quietly to her friend Stacy as the adult Sabbath school was tranforming into the worship hour.1
“Mine, too,” Stacy replied. “The best Friend I’ve ever had. I talk to Him a lot.”
A set of shoulders in front of them paused and turned in their direction. It was Bob, one of the teachers for another adult class. “Be careful, ladies,” he said. “You talk like that too much and you make God look cheap.”
Judy and Stacy looked at each other. Bob opened his hands and gestured toward the women. “Let’s go into this room for a minute,” he said. “Church won’t start for a while.”
His first question was for Stacy. “What do you talk to God about?” he asked. “Do you seek His counsel for how to live a holy life?”
“Of course,” Stacy said.
“And what else?”
“Oh, I talk to Him about everything. My work, my family. Everything.”
“So do I,” Judy said. “I chat with Him all day long. And at night if I wake up.”
“Do you think this sort of ‘chatting’ is prayer?” Bob asked.
Silence. Then Stacy said, “Of course it is. There are many kinds of prayer. Conversational prayer is one type. Talking to Jesus as to a friend.”
Bob sighed. “We’d better go to the church service, but before we do, I want to warn you about taking God too lightly. He is the Creator of the universe, the Master Builder, the best of everything that’s good. We need to be very careful about trying to bring God down to our level and talking to Him as if we were equals. Think about it.”
The organ was already playing, and the three entered the sanctuary and went to three different locations for the worship service that followed.
[Thought Questions for The Promise of Prayer March 7, 2012]
1. Casual prayer. Read the story, above, and ask yourself, Does God expect us to behave in a certain way when we come to Him in prayer? Why don’t we throw ourselves on the floor or cover our heads when we pray? What kind of language should we use when we pray to God? or does it matter? Does God want us to approach him as a friend? a buddy? or, if we’re young, a daddy? Or should we be casual with God in some circumstances and loaded with reverence in others?
2. Pray as we walk with God. What do you think the angels talk about in their prayers? Why do they love to be close to God? Should we have the same impulses and thoughts as the angeles do? Do most members of your church spend a lot of time every day in prayer? How do you know? Are there differences between private one-on-one prayer with God and public prayer where we bring the listeners to the throne of God? What about petitions we share in Sabbath school class or family?
3. Prayer is powerful. Have you ever been a witness to an amazing proof that God answers prayer? How powerful is prayer? Why don’t we have more evidence in our family or in the local church that God answers prayer? What was the last prayer you prayed that had a sure answer? Have you noticed that there are certain types of prayer that seem to cause changes immediately? What are some characteristics of those types of prayer? What is the greatest challenge we face when we pray earnestly for a specific outcome? What do you think of a “pre-prayer” that helps you put your heart in the right mode for meaningful prayer?
4. Jesus prayed. Have you ever wondered what our Creator God, incarnated as a human but still God of the universe, had to say to His heavenly Father? What do you think the Father had to say to His Son in prayer while Jesus lived His humble life on earth? (Read John 17.) Does that mean that you and I have a less compelling reason to pray to our God? Could you and I ever pray as effectively as Jesus did? What did Jesus pray for while on earth? How can Jesus’ prayers help us formulate our own prayer life with God? How often did Jesus pray? How often should you and I pray? Why? What was the purpose of Jesus prayers? What should be the purpose of ours?
5. The prayer of faith. Why is faith an essential element of prayer? If you didn’t have faith in God would you ever pray? What does faith bring to the process of prayer? Have you ever tried to tell God everything that’s been happening to you and then realize He already knows all of that? In fact, God knows your thoughts before, during, and after your prayer. So why do we pray? What happens during prayer that cannot take place in any other setting? How can prayer help us “die daily?” How can we help others enjoy the privilege of prayer? What about our children? Can we teach youngsters to have faith and pray to God?
6. You didn’t ask. Your lesson states that without exception our prayers influence God. Do you believe that? How can weak, sin-sick human beings have any influence whatsoever on the Mighty God? Do we have to be sin-free before we can hope to be heard by God? Are there requests that God always fills when we ask Him in prayer? What are some of them? Most teenagers are drawn to activities that involve fun and food and good looks. Does God hear the prayers of our teenagers? Explain. When you pray for the spiritual life of others, do you also ask God to show you ways to influence that person to love Him more?
7. The breath of the soul. Can you imagine having your ability to pray taken away from you? How would you feel? Aren’t you glad that can’t happen? (at least as long as our senses are still working). Even behind prison walls, even facing death in war, can we still pray and be heard? Does Jesus reach out to us even in such dire situations? Should we pray for sick or injured persons to be healed by God? Should we pray for individuals studying our church’s beliefs to ask for baptism? Should we pray more–or less–for our own lives to be molded into the likeness of Christ? How are you planning to change your prayer life starting this week?