Lesson 6August 3 - 9

Prayer Power

Read for This Weeks Study:   Luke 11:5-13;  18:1-8.

Memory Text:   "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers"  (1 Peter 3:12, KJV, NKJV).

Key Thought: A healthy prayer life is as necessary to sustain Christian growth as breathing is to sustain our physical existence. Prayer is the breath of the soul.



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PRAYER WARRIORS. When William IV of England died, a 17-year-old girl was sleeping in the palace. After awakening to the news that she was now the Queen of England, she fell to her knees and prayed that the Lord would guide her through the years ahead. Thus Queen Victoria began one of the greatest reigns of British history.

Fanny Crosby always prayed before she attempted to write a hymn. Considering that she wrote approximately 8,000 hymns, she must have prayed a great deal.

And Martin Luther said that he prayed an hour each day, except on those days which he knew would be particularly busy. Then he spent two hours in prayer.

The parables we will study this week teach us the importance of prayer in the process of Christian growth. Is prayer a vital element of your life? Take some time this afternoon to consider your daily activities. How often do you find yourself praying throughout the day? As you study this week, think of ways to improve your prayer life, and resolve that, with God's help, you will draw closer to Him through prayer.

SundayAugust 3

"TEACH US TO PRAY" (Luke 11:1-13).

List at least three things you notice about the setting of this parable. Luke 11:1-13.

The disciples seemed to realize the importance of prayer in establishing and maintaining a close relationship with God. In answer to their request, Jesus instructed them by giving them a sample prayer and telling them a parable.

Jesus' sample prayer teaches us much about prayer. The order of the prayer suggests that before we ask anything for ourselves, we first should give God the glory due Him. When we do so, we will put other items in their proper place.

Notice how the prayer immediately goes from the heights of adoration to the most basic of human needs. Jesus knows that we cannot live by bread alone. But He also knows that we cannot live without it. Thus He teaches us that He is concerned about our physical well being and that it is proper for us to dialog with Him about it. This particular request is also one of compassion. The plural pronouns us and our imply that we should pray not only for personal needs but for the needs of others, as well.

Review the rest of Jesus' sample prayer by listing phrases of the prayer that go with each item below.

Prayer about past sin

Prayer about one's relationship with others

Prayer about future trials and protection

Truly to pray 'lead us not into temptation' is to renounce the ways of our own choosing and to submit to the ways of God's choosing." - SDA Bible Commentary vol. 5, p. 348. Furthermore, temptation (KJV) can mean any situation that tests our faith or challenges our principles.

Use the elements of Jesus' sample prayer to compose your own prayer. Such an exercise can infuse new life into the sometimes all too-familiar verses we have studied today. (1) Adoration/praise to God. (2) Our needs for the day. (3) Forgiveness of sin. (4) Our relationship with others. (5) God's care and protection.

MondayAugust 4

ASK, SEARCH, AND KNOCK (Luke 11:5-13).

Immediately after Jesus gave the disciples a sample prayer, He further instructed them by telling them a parable. Read Luke 11:5-8. Several customs are apparent in these verses: (1) During hot weather, people often traveled at night. This could explain the midnight hour. (2) Hospitality was a sacred duty. But because just enough bread was baked in the morning for one day's use, the friend could not fulfill this duty. Thus he was faced with quite a predicament. (3) Doors were usually left open during the day. But closing them in the evening signaled the householder's desire not to be disturbed. Thus, it was considered quite rude to knock on a closed door, unless the need was crucial. (4) A Palestinian house was usually divided into two parts by a low platform that comprised about one-third of the floor space. On the platform sat a charcoal stove around which the entire family slept on mats. If one person arose, it was likely that others would be disturbed. Thus the friend felt he could not arise.

Summarize three things this parable tells us about prayer. In what way is the meaning of the parable similar to certain sections of the Lord's Prayer? Luke 11:5-13.

Christ is not saying that God is one from whom we must wring a blessing. Instead, He is contrasting the householder with our heavenly Father. He is saying, "If this irritable person will give whatever is needed, how much more will your heavenly Father give?"

But the central theme of the parable is "steadfastness in prayer. The parable also defines the kind of requests for which our Lord counsels steadfastness--prayers whose object is the blessing of our fellow men and the extension of His kingdom." - SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 790.

Verses 9 and 10 state that if we ask, we will receive. Why is the request of verse 13 vitally important?

Verses 9 and 10 do not mean that whatever we ask for, God will give us. But when we ask for the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts and transform our lives, God will not refuse us. As the Holy Spirit influences our lives, God's will becomes our will. When that happens, our requests will be in line with God's desire for our lives.

How would a modern parable about persistence in prayer read? Over what would you show insistence?

TuesdayAugust 5


Read Luke 18:1-5 and decide upon one word or small phrase that you think best describes (a) the widow, (b) the judge, and (c) the point Jesus is trying to get across about the nature of prayer.

This description of a Mesopotamian court "room" helps us visualize the parable better: "On a slightly raised dais at the further end sat the kadi, or judge, half buried in cushions. Round him squatted various secretaries and other notables. The populace crowded into the rest of the hall, a dozen voices clamoring at once, each claiming that his cause should be the first heard. The more prudent litigants joined not in the fray, but held whispered communications with the secretaries, passing bribes, euphemistically called fees, into the hands of one or another. When the greed of the underlings was satisfied, one of them would whisper to the kadi, who would promptly call such and such a case. It seemed to be ordinarily taken for granted that judgment would go for the litigant who had bribed highest. But meantime a poor woman on the skirts of the crowd perpetually interrupted the proceedings with loud cries for justice. She was sternly bidden to be silent, and reproachfully told that she came there everyday. 'And so I will,' she cried out, 'till the kadi hears me.' "- H. B. Tristram, Eastern Customs in Bible Lands (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1894), pp. 228, 229.

Amid such a scene, hear the widow cry out, "Grant me justice against my adversary" (Luke 18:3, NIV). But what chance did she have against such a system? Even the Greek word for widow means "forsaken" or "left empty."

What prompted the judge to answer the widow's plea? Verses 4, 5.

To "always pray and not give up" (verse 1, NIV) means that we should always be quick to pray when the need arises, whether that need be to praise and thank God, or to request special help and guidance. But sometimes we all feel as powerless as the widow. Then meditate upon Jesus in Gethsemane praying again and again (Matt. 26:36-44; Luke 22:39-43). And memorize Paul's counsel in Ephesians 6:18.

How can the widow's example encourage you to keep on praying? Think of one or two matters about which you are ready to give up praying. Then ask God to help you be as persistent as the widow. Never give up!

WednesdayAugust 6

A PRAYER FOR VINDICATION (Luke 17:20-34; 18:1-8).

Jesus probably told the parable of the widow and the corrupt judge as a follow-up to His sermon on last-day events in Luke 17:20-34, where He dealt with falsehoods that could cause even His followers to go astray. Thus, the parable of the widow and judge "applies specifically to the experience of God's people in the last days ... in anticipation of the deception they must meet and the persecution they must suffer."- SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 843. Thus the widow's pleas for justice against her adversary (Luke 18:3) become our prayers for vindication.

Who is our adversary and the father of lies (John 8:44), including the falsehoods Jesus mentioned in Luke 17:20-34? 1 Peter 5:8. (See also Zech. 3:1-4.) How does the parable reassure us that God will indeed deliver us from our adversary? Luke 18:5-8 .

In the original language of 1 Peter 5:8, the adversary (antidikos) is identified with the devil. The same word for adversary is used in Luke 18:3.

"The worse this judge appears.... the more does the voice of the Saviour seem to say to us, 'Men ought always to pray, and not faint.' " - Charles H. Spurgeon, The Miracles and Parables of Our Lord (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, reprinted 1992), vol. 3, p. 439.

"Will he keep putting them off?" (Luke 18:7, NIV). It often seems to us that God delays His answers to our prayers. But all the while He is actually working quickly, setting "in operation those forces that will accomplish His good will for the 'elect,' and these forces may be in operation long before the results become apparent. Furthermore, God may at times delay 'avenging' His 'elect' in order that those who are persecuting them may have time and opportunity to repent. God loves the persecutors as well as the persecuted [see 2 Peter 3:9]."- SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 845.

We should also remember that a delay can help us understand our dependency upon Christ, an understanding that makes it possible for God to work on our behalf. When you suffer injustice, remember the widow's perseverance and the words of Peter in 1 Peter 2:20-24.

The parable gives us hope and assurance. But it also gives US". cause for self-examination. Will you pursue any of the falsehoods abounding in the last days? (Luke 17:20-34). Or, like. the widow, will you pray for vindication until the need to do so no longer exists?

ThursdayAugust 7


One morning, Cynthia Coston, homemaker and mother of two young boys, reviewed the activities she needed to accomplish that day. When she realized she would need guidance in arranging her schedule, she asked God for help. She writes, "When I allowed the sweetness of prayer into my day, it seeped down through my busy activities and made the duties seem more manageable. My outlook improved and the things I didn't accomplish seemed less important.'--Adapted from Among Friends, Rose Otis, editor, pp. 344, 345.

This week, our study of two parables has instructed us regarding prayer. Today, we will consider what Scripture has to say about various aspects of prayer. For each aspect, summarize what the texts tell us about it. The benefits of prayer. James 4:8; 5:16.

Conditions of answered prayer. 2 Chron. 7:14; Heb. 11:6; 1 John 5:14, 15.

What to pray for. Matt. 5:44; 26:41; 1 Tim. 2:1, 2; James 1:5; 5:13-16.

How to pray. Ps. 62:8; Matt. 6:7; Phil. 4:6.

Matthew 22:37-40 tells us that "the whole Law and the Prophets" depend upon the greatest command of loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and a second command to love your neighbor as yourself. But it is foolish to expect that we can love God so completely without a personal knowledge of Him. How can we obtain such a knowledge? The disciples guessed it when they asked Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). Thus, "Jesus gave His disciples a plan through which they could love God and become an expression of His love to their fellowmen. The method of Jesus for discipleship was to teach men and women to pray. Prayer would usher them into a loving, intimate relationship with the Father.'- Sammy Tippit, The Prayer Factor (Chicago, Ill.: The Moody Bible Institute, 1988), p. 67.

Is the disciples' request yours? In what ways do you expect the Lord to answer you when you pray, "Lord, teach me to pray"?

FridayAugust 8

FURTHER STUDY:Read the following prayers found in the Bible. What prompted the people involved to pray? Where and how did they pray? Did their lives meet the conditions of answered prayer? How did their prayers compare with the principles behind the Lord's Prayer (see Sunday's lesson)? 1 Sam. 1:8-20; 1 Sam 2:1-10; Dan. 9:1-23; John 17.

Read any or all of the following: Steps to Christ, "The Privilege of Prayer," pp. 93-104; Christ's Object Lessons, "Asking to Give," pp. 139-149; "Shall Not God Avenge His Own?" pp. 164-180.

"The soul that turns to God for its help, its support, its power, by daily, earnest Prayer, will have noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth and duty, lofty purposes of action, and a continual hungering and thirsting after righteousness. By maintaining a connection with God, we shall be enabled to diffuse to others, through our association with them, the light, the peace, the serenity, that rule in our hearts. The strength acquired in prayer to God, united with persevering effort in training the mind in thoughtfulness and care-taking, prepares one for daily duties and keeps the spirit in peace under all circumstances."- Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p.85.


1. The disciples did not ask Jesus to teach them to work miracles, to heal, or to preach. Instead, they asked Him to teach them to pray. Before studying this lesson, what would you have asked Jesus to teach you? Why? How has this lesson changed your mind about what you would like to learn from Christ?

2. Read Matthew 26:36-45. Contrast Christ's example with the disciples' actions. Why had the disciples failed to pray, even though earlier they had expressed a desire to learn to pray from the Master Himself? Why do you think we often fail to pray?

3. Read Luke 6:12 and Mark 1:35. Is Jesus' example practical, for us today? Why or why not? Should our lifestyle dictate our prayer life? Or should our prayer life dictate our lifestyle?

SUMMARY:  Prayer is as important to our spiritual health as eating is to our physical health. Just as it is essential to eat the right foods, so it is essential for us to pray in the right way. Through daily heart felt prayer, both public and private, we draw closer to Christ, who then infuses us with more of His love and grace.

Changing Teams

Neumoel Stina

One Sabbath, I was preaching in a church in the city of Bauru, Brazil. As I preached on the seven great miracles of Jesus recorded in John's Gospel, I noticed a tall young woman sitting in the front row, weeping. I was troubled over her tears, concerned that I had said something to hurt her. At the end of the sermon, I appealed to people to accept Jesus as their personal Saviour. Many stood, including this girl. After the service she approached me, her eyes filled with tears, and said, "I did not know Jesus loved me so much. I want to be an Adventist." She told me a little about herself, that her name was Ana Maria, and that she was a basketball player. I promised to pray for her.

Three months later at a youth congress in another city, I received a message that a girl was looking for me. Soon Ana Maria arrived. "Pastor, you may not remember me," she greeted.

"I do," I answered. "You are the basketball player."

"No, Pastor, ex-basketball player; today I am an Adventist, and I want you to baptize me."

Ana Maria had gone through unpleasant situations in professional basketball, and while desperately searching for meaning and happiness, she said that something--or Someone--spoke to her of a God, but she wondered, "Will God accept me?"

While in her mother's home in Bauru, a windstorm swept through the area, destroying the house. No one was injured, but it was a traumatic experience. A group of young people helped the family and invited Ana Maria to attend a lecture as part of a spiritual retreat. Ana Maria accepted the invitation as a gesture of gratitude for what the young people had done for her mother.

During the lecture, Ana Maria asked God to fill the void in her life. She said that her prayer was answered when she heard the news that Jesus' miracles showed His great love for her.

I baptized Ana Maria, along with 14 other people, a few months later. Today Ana Maria is on Jesus' team in the great game of life. She wants to study theology and to be a Bible worker. And while she prepares for the theology course, Ana Maria is preparing others for baptism.

Elder Neumoel Stina is president of the West Sao Paulo Conference in Brazil.

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