December 30 - January 5
The Model Pray-er and the Model Prayer: Christ
HAVE YOU EVER EAVESDROPPED ON A PRIVATE CONVERSATION? In our lessons this quarter we will listen to urgent messages from the battle lines to God in His heavenly headquarters as great saints of the Bible struggle with the forces of evil. Jesus, the greatest prayer warrior of all, shows us when to pray, how to pray, and for what to pray. In a hostile world, separated from the glory of heaven and the adoration of angels, He endured loneliness and torture of soul. His source of strength, however, was His communication with Headquarters.
What is prayer? It is "the breath of the soul" (Gospel Workers, p. 254), "the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven's storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence," and "the opening of the heart to God as to a Friend."Steps to Christ, pp. 93-95. "Our prayers will take the form of a conversation with God as we would talk with a friend. He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Often there will come to us a sweet joyful sense of the presence of Jesus. Often our hearts will burn within us as He draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch."Christ 's Object Lessons, p. 129. As you study this week, ask yourself what prayer has done for you.
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE:
I. Jesus' Prayer Life (Luke 3:21, 22).
II. "I Have Prayed For You, Peter" (Luke 22:31, 32, 40-46; 23:34).
III. "Teach Us to Pray" (Luke 11:1-4).
IV. "Give Us This Day" (Matt. 6:11-13).
V. Jesus' Principles of Prayer (Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-14).
MEMORY TEXT: "'So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find: knock and the door will he opened to you. For everyone who asks receives: he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will he opened' "(Luke 11:9, 10, NIV).
Luke 3:21, 22, says that Jesus prayed at the beginning of His public ministry. What do you think He included in that prayer? What response did He receive?
The Gospels portray Jesus as praying through each stage of His journey to the cross. Today and tomorrow, we will travel with Him through each of these stages to see how prayer encouraged Him and to learn how it can do the same for us.
What do the following texts teach us about Jesus' prayer life and prayer in general?
|Text||Jesus' Prayer Life||Prayer in General|
|Luke 5:15, 16;|
The longest of Jesus' recorded prayers, His prayer in John 17, ends the instruction He gave to His disciples in the upper room and Gethsemane. Some have said it is the most profound chapter in the Bible. (See The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1051:1, "These words spake Jesus.")
"In the opening of his prayer (vs. 1) and three times later (vss. 5, 21, 24) Christ calls God Father. . . .
"And that name gives the atmosphere to the whole prayer. Listening, we learn how natural prayer is, how simply we can turn to God, sure of his interest in us and his loving kindness toward us; in the happy assurance that he will certainly do for us all that even God can do, and that gladly and willingly. Christ spoke to God with open face, as a man to his friend, as a child to its father, reverently and humbly."The Interpreter's Bible, vol. 8, p. 742. (We will study this prayer in depth in lesson 11.)
It is now Thursday evening, only hours before Jesus' arrest and trial. Jesus is eating the Passover meal with His disciples. He warns them that one is about to betray Him and all would forsake Him (Luke 22:14-62; see also The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 866:14, "The hour").
What special message did Jesus have for Peter? Luke 22:31, 32.
"How true was the Saviour's friendship for Peter! How compassionate His warning! But the warning was resented. In self-sufficiency Peter declared confidently that he would never do what Christ had warned him against. . . . His self-confidence proved his ruin. He tempted Satan to tempt him, and he fell under the arts of the wily foe."Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1123:31-34, "Peter Tempted the Devil."
Considering the force of the original Greek, we could say that Satan demands to have every one of us. He lost heaven and eternal life to gain this world, and he struggles to charm each of us and fasten us in his grip. Jesus, however, disputes his claim. He won the right to save every soul (John 1:29; Rom. 5:18). Earnestly He prayed for Peter (Luke 22:31, 32). These prayers gave Peter courage to face the darkest moment of his life.
We travel on to witness Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Read Luke 22:39-44. Once again, despite great anguish, we hear Him calling God His Father, indicating that, even though on the rest of His journey He must travel through great tumult, He still trusts in the divine plan.
Jesus' prayer in Luke 22 points out the risk we sometimes take when we pray. If we really are sincere when we pray, " 'Yet not my will, but yours be done" (vs. 42, NIV), we must be ready to drink the cup He places in our hands, even if it is bitter. Remember, however, that just as God sent an angel "not to take the cup from Christ's hand, but to strengthen Him to drink it," so He will empower us. (See The Desire of Ages, p. 693; for further study, read p. 694.)
Jesus' prayer life followed a pattern we all can follow. He met every crisis in advance through prayer. Before stepping forth to meet His enemies or to meet an unfair trial, humiliation, torture, and death, He fought the battle in prayer. He then was able to stride forth calmly as a Victor to meet His foes..
Why can we say that Jesus' prayer in Luke 23:34 expresses the sum and substance of Christianity?
Jesus' disciples were deeply moved as they watched Him intercede with God before ministering to the multitudes each day. They longed to have the same kind of relationship with God as He did. So they requested, "Lord, teach us to pray." Jesus responded with "the Lord's Prayer." Read Luke 11:2-4.
Listed below are phrases from this prayer. What relationship between ourselves and God does each of these phrases illustrate? The first one is done for you. (From John F. MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7 [Winona Lake: Indiana, BMH Books, 1985], p. 374).
"Our Father": the father/child relationship____________________________________
"Hallowed be thy name": __________________________________________________
"Thy kingdom come": _____________________________________________________
"Thy will be done": _______________________________________________________
"Give us. . . our daily bread": _______________________________________________
"Forgive us our sins": _____________________________________________________
The Lord's Prayer has two sections, the first dealing with God's glory, the second with human needs. Each section has three parts. The first three parts are petitions in behalf of God's name, His kingdom, and His will. The second three parts are petitions for food, forgiveness, and protection. (See MacArthur, p. 373).
"Hallowed be thy name." Though we can be as familiar with God as a child to a parent, we must also bow in reverence before His awesome majesty. Those closest to the throne in heaven fall down on their faces before Him (Rev. 19:4).
"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth." We should long to see the reign of evil come to an end when Jesus will be King of kings and Lord of lords and take up His great power to reign (Rev. 11:15-17). "Thy will be done" means first that God's will becomes ours, and second, that our tortured world will become subject to His will.
|Why do you think the first part of the Lord's Prayer deals with God's glory? Is affirming His power as we begin to pray a way of strengthening faith in His ability to answer our needs?|
The second half of Jesus' model prayer centers on our needs. What does "our daily bread" mean? (Matt. 6:11).
Such a request is fitting for much of the world where the task of providing food for a hungry family is a constant struggle. Our Father hears such cries for help. More prosperous Christians can help to answer those prayers.
"Daily bread" includes all our human needs, especially a daily supply of spiritual bread for the soul (John 6:35).
What is another request we are to make of the Lord while we pray? Matt. 6:12; Luke 11:4.
This request is based on the tradition of forgiving debts during the sabbatical year (Deut. 15:1, 2). The sabbatical year of release is a type of the "acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18, 19, NKJV), when Jesus by His grace releases us from our debts by granting pardon for our sins. Those who have been crushed by overwhelming debt know the joy of release. We should experience the same relief and gratitude when Jesus forgives our sins.
In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus declared that it is a criminal offense to withhold forgiveness from a fellow human being. Unwillingness to forgiveresentment, hatred, a vengeful attitudepoisons the one who harbors it, embittering the springs of life and producing mental and physical disease. For our own sake, as well as the wrongdoer's, we should forgive.
Puritan writer, Thomas Manton, said, "There is none so tender to others as they which have received mercy themselves, for they know how gently God hath dealt with them."MacArthur, p. 395.
"He who sincerely seeks and entreats forgiveness of sins, longs to be able to sin no more. So he prays, conscious of his own weakness, that God may guide his life away from circumstances in which he is exposed to evil temptations."Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1951), p. 321.
|Most of us have heard or repeated the Lord's Prayer so many times we hardly consider what it means. To help solve this problem, write your own prayer, based on the parts of Jesus' model prayer that Tuesday's lesson mentions. After you have written and prayed your prayer, repeat the Lord's Prayer.|
Through His parables, Jesus taught many of the principles of effective prayer. What principles can you gather from the following parables?
|The Parables||The Principles|
Luke 11:9. The Greek emphasizes persistence in prayer. "Keep on asking," "keep on seeking," "keep on knocking," and your divine Neighbor will open the door and give you what you need.
How is God pleased when we ask Him to help others?
"Men may sometimes think of God as One who would prefer not to have people trouble Him, but His true character as a solicitous, loving, and generous Father is clearly set forth in vs. 9-13. The reluctance of the friend to arise and supply that which was needed in no way represents God. . . . Here, the lesson of the parable is not one of comparison but of contrast."The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 789:7, "Trouble me not."
|What do you say to someone who argues this way: "Why does God need to hear us pray over and over? If He knows what we need and intends that we have itwhy doesn't He just give it to us?"|
FURTHER STUDY: On a separate sheet of paper, list the principles of prayer that you have learned from this week's lesson. Provide a text for each principle. The following questions can help you organize your list.
Read either "Come Rest Awhile" in The Desire of Ages, pp. 359-363 or "The Privilege of Prayer" in Steps to Christ, pp. 93-104.
"Our Saviour identified Himself with our needs and weaknesses, in that He became a suppliant, a petitioner, seeking from His Father fresh supplies of strength, that He might come forth braced for duty and trial. . . . He found comfort and joy in communion with His Father. And if the Saviour of men, the Son of God, felt the need of prayer, how much more should feeble, sinful mortals feel the necessity of fervent, constant prayer."Steps to Christ, pp. 93, 94.
SUMMARY: Prayer is the power line between earth and heaven, linking us to the mind and might of God and allowing us to converse with Him as with a friend. Through a constant connection with Him, we can face trials, overcome temptation, and share the blessings of heaven with others.
J. H. Zachary
INDIA-The Meitei people, who live in the hills of northern India, are still largely unreached with the gospel.
Ranjit Singh and his wife worked for several days to plant 2.500 cabbage plants in their garden. But as they worked, they noticed that some of the cabbage plants were beginning to wither. The ground was dry, and there was no sign of rain. Without rain there would be no harvest, and the family would face a difficult year.
The Singhs had lost faith in the gods they had called upon throughout their lives, but they did not know where to turn for help. Which of Hinduism's 300,000 gods would answer their prayers for rain to make their cabbages grow?
Then Mr. Singh recalled hearing someone say that the God of the Christians was all-powerful. He talked it over with his wife, and they decided to pray to this unseen God for rain. "If the God of the Christians hears our prayer and answers, then we will know that He is the true God," Mr. Singh told his wife. For the first time in their lives the couple poured out their hearts to God for help.
That night it rained. The next day, the couple stood in amazement when they realized that the rain had fallen only on their cabbage patch and nowhere else in the village. Mr. Singh did not hesitate; he set out to learn how he could become a follower of this powerful God who had answered their prayer. But his wife hesitated.
Mr. Singh found a Protestant pastor and asked him how he could become a Christian. The pastor baptized him that day, and Mr. Singh went home happy. But he did not know what it meant to be a Christian. What should a follower of God be doing? How should he worship? What did God expect of him?
Some time later Mr. Singh met an Adventist pastor and asked him, "What does it mean to be a Christian?" Through a series of Bible studies, the pastor showed the couple what it meant to follow Christ. Both Mr. and Mrs. Singh were baptized.
The miraculous rainfall did not go unnoticed by others in their village. Many were deeply impressed and have shown a willingness to learn more about the God who can control the wind and the rain.
Pray for the Meitei people as they seek God.
J. H. Zachary is coordinator of international evangelism for The Quiet Hour and a special consultant for the General Conference Ministerial Association.
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