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The Model Prayer – Pt 1/6

The Teaching of Jesus on Prayer – Part 1 of 6
Expanded and Adapted From The HOPE Study Guide

 

If you wanted to learn how to pray, who would you choose for a teacher? In Matthew 6:9-13, you can find a model prayer given to you by Jesus Himself. It was not given simply to recite, but to teach you how to pray. It has been called “the true pattern for all prayer.” Each verse in this prayer identifies an important dimension of prayer. This is Part 1 of 6.

“OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED (HOLY) BE THY NAME.” – VERSE 9 (word added)

The starting place for prayer is God Himself. Begin prayer by setting your heart and mind on who God is, rather than on yourself and your circumstances. It will affect everything that follows. Jesus begins His model for prayer by bringing together two truths that seem so opposite it is almost inconceivable they could be spoken in the same breath. God is your Father. He loves you with a passionate, perfect, tender, unconditional love. God is also Holy. His glory and majesty are so intense, that even the host of angels surrounding His throne must cover their eyes and feet so as not to be overcome by His presence (Isaiah 6:2). Prayer involves both extreme intimacy and reverence.

A five–star general, the highest ranking officer in the military, may be known by many people. Most of them stand to attention and salute when he walks by. But his beloved (his wife, his children, etc.) know him intimately and can barge in on him at any time. There are many people who know about God, but as His children, we have direct access to our Father. Through prayer we can enter His throne room at any time …and we can know that He longs for us to be there!

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba (literally Daddy)! Father!” (Romans 8:15, explanation added).

We have all been created with a profound need to be fathered. For many, that need has never been met. A father is one who protects and provides for his children. With wisdom and love, he guides them and prepares them to flourish in life. God desires to father you. Before reading on, think for a moment what it means to have God, the Holy, All Powerful, Creator and Ruler of everything, as your Father. Respect Him and receive His love. Continue reading


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Growing in God

The Basics of Growing in Your Relationship with God.
From The HOPE Study Guide

THE BASICS OF GROWING IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
Coming into a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ is a wonderful beginning – but it is just that: a beginning. While it may be the end of the journey called “coming to faith,” it is only the start of another journey that might be called “growing in God.” The apostle Paul claimed that “knowing” Jesus Christ was the great goal of his life. He said, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).

Paul saw growing in God as an undertaking that would consume him until death ushered him into God’s very presence! So how do we come to know our great, saving God, and to grow in Him? There are many ways, but time has shown that a few are key. Our knowledge of Him cannot help but grow as we study His Word, communicate with Him in prayer, share life with other believers, tell others about what God has done for us, and follow Him daily in faith and obedience. We’ll examine each of these briefly in turn.

1. STUDY GOD’S WORD

You would never expect a child to grow into a healthy adult without proper nourishment. Children eat to grow. Likewise, the Word of God is the spiritual food that nourishes every growing Christian. The apostle Peter encouraged Jesus’ followers to, like newborn babies, “long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Peter 2: 2-3). Just as there are many styles of eating – there are also many ways to “take in” God’s life–giving Word. Consider these to begin:

  • Reading your Bible daily. Many plans exist for reading a portion of the Bible each day. If you are a new follower of Christ, you might begin by reading a few verses of the gospel of John daily until you have finished the book. Then move to another gospel (Matthew, Mark or Luke), or one of Paul’s “missionary” letters like Ephesians or Philippians. You might also find a “devotional” Bible which selects portions of scripture for you to read daily, and includes thoughts to consider on that particular passage.
  • Reading through the whole Bible. Some Bibles are published with guides for reading the Bible through in a systematic way. If your Bible does not contain such a guide, you can easily find one. Several are available at http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/12/27/reading-the-bible-in-2013/.
  • Discovering God’s Word is filled with promises for you. Memorize and meditate on His promises. Again, some Bibles will have at least a partial listing of God’s promises in their reference section. Others are available at no charge:   http://bible.org/article/selected-promises-god-each-book-bible.
  • Studying the Bible in a group. Studying God’s Word together with other Christians is a wonderful way to grow in insight and in community. Seek out a leader in a Bible–believing church in your area and ask about group studies that might be available to you.

In every instance, the emphasis on Bible study should not be simply academic, or study for study’s sake. You are studying not to gain “head knowledge” but to know more deeply and fully the God whose saving plan has included you. You are a part of His story now!

2. COMMUNICATE WITH GOD

Prayer is simply communication with God – and it is so important. It may seem at times like one–way communication, but it is not. Prayer involves speaking to God and listening for His voice in return – as He speaks through His Word, through His servants, and through the still, small voice of His Holy Spirit. Through prayer we thank God for His goodness to us, confess our sins, praise Him for who He is, and make requests of Him. It is in regular prayer that we grow in our relationship with God and mature in our faith. The Bible says we should pray about everything, and that we should pray “without ceasing.” Truly, nothing is too small to take to God in prayer. He is the Lord of all life.

  • Get in the habit of spending time each day with God. Learn to listen as well as to speak. Some people call this time with God a “quiet time” – but it may not be quiet at all. You may pray aloud, sing praises, or read aloud prayers from scripture during this time. The important thing is to set aside a time for God that will not be compromised, even if it is just a few minutes of undistracted focus every morning or evening.
  • Keep a prayer journal. Recording your prayers can help you see how God has led you, and to praise Him for His faithfulness in giving not just what you ask him for – but what you truly need. Be sure and share answered prayer with others, too. God’s faithfulness to you can be used to build someone else’s faith as well!
  • Study what Jesus taught about prayer in The Model Prayer at the end of this study. When Jesus’ disciples said “Lord, teach us to pray,” this is what Jesus offered in response. Many people say this prayer in a rote, or routine way – hardly thinking of what the words mean. As you study this prayer, consider each part of it, and what it says about God’s constant care and concern for you.
  • Train yourself to maintain a running dialogue with God throughout the day. Some call this “practicing the presence” of God. Simply remind yourself that God is with you all day, every day – and that you are free to speak with Him about anything, at any time.

Continue reading


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The Ministry of Jesus – Teaching and Miracles

Jesus proves Himself.
Lesson 47 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.

– John 21:25

The very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.

– John 5:36

As Jesus and His disciples journeyed through the land, people gathered around Him. He was a master communicator. With wonderful stories and illustrations, Jesus taught people the ways of God, and called them to live according to those ways. Jesus had compassion for the outcast and the brokenhearted. He convicted those whose hearts were full of pride. He spoke with the authority of one sent from God, but He was not just a man of words.

Jesus expressed His compassion and proved His authority with miracles. He was reported to have calmed storms and walked on the sea. On two occasions He took just a few loaves of bread and a handful of fish, and multiplied them to feed thousands of people. Jesus gave sight to the blind, caused the lame to walk, and healed people of horrible diseases. He cast demons out of people, and He even raised people from the dead. For thirty years, Jesus had lived in obscurity. But now, He was demonstrating His power over the physical and the spiritual world, over life and death.

– The HOPE, Chapter 9

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

During the three years between His baptism and His death and resurrection, Jesus traveled throughout the land of the Hebrews ministering to the people. There were two main aspects to the public ministry of Jesus. The first of these was His teaching.

As we read about the teaching of Jesus in the Bible, it is characterized by authority (Matthew 7:29, Mark 1:22, Luke 4:32) and wisdom (Matthew 13:54, Mark 6:2). Amazed (Matthew 7:28, Mark 1:22, Luke 4:32) and astonished (Matthew 13:54, Matthew 22:33, Mark 6:2, Mark 11:18) are the words used most to describe the reactions of those who heard Jesus teach. Even among those who doubt that Jesus is the promised Deliverer, His teaching is considered remarkable. His “Sermon on the Mount” and numerous parables1 are viewed to be among the greatest wisdom literature in the world.

The second aspect of Jesus’ ministry had to do with the miracles He performed. Most of today’s lesson will be concerned with the miracles of Jesus. But before we go further, let’s define our terms. The modern word “miracle” is derived from the Latin word miraculum, which means, “a wonder” or “something wonderful.”2 In the Bible, there are four words (two Hebrew and two Greek) that are translated as the word “miracle.” In each case, these words describe an intervention by God in which the ordinary course of nature is overruled, suspended, or modified.3 The Biblical term “miracle” means something much more than its Latin root.

Note that the Biblical use of the word doesn’t simply refer to the involvement of God in the affairs of man. It refers to what C. S. Lewis calls “a divine interference with nature by a supernatural power.”4 God does innumerable things for us on a daily basis, but He doesn’t necessarily supersede the laws of nature to do them. However, if you had terminal cancer one day, and then the next day it was gone, that would be completely contrary to the laws of nature. A miracle defies natural explanation because it defies natural law. Continue reading


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Prayers of Faith and Cries of the Heart

This Week’s Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. (18) Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5:14-18 NASB

 

In James 5:15&16, we read about the effectiveness of a “prayer offered in faith.” And in verses 17&18, the prayers of Elijah are cited as an example of such a prayer. These examples are recorded in 1 Kings 17:1 and 1 Kings 18:1 & 18:42-46.

Elijah’s prayer In 1 Kings 17:1 reads more like a confident prophetic proclamation than a request, “As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” Because Elijah was a righteous man (Jas 5:16) and a prophet of God, we must conclude that these words did not originate from Elijah’s self-initiative, but from God’s revelation to Elijah. Elijah was praying in accordance with God’s will.

In chapter 18, we find it explicitly stated that God told Elijah exactly what to do and say, (18:1) “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth.” Then Elijah went up Mt. Carmel, got on his knees, and again, prayed in accordance with God’s revealed will. This account is given to us in James 5:17&18 so that we might know how to pray today. Continue reading


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Power in Prayer

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Read the Scripture: 1 John 3:21-24

Would you tag your relationship with God super vibrant? Ultra dull? Or somewhere in between?
This short message from Ray Stedman may shed some light on what makes the difference.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him (1 John 3:21-22).

Part of the reason so many are finding Christianity to be boring is because they are not experiencing the kind of Christian living described in this passage. They have not entered into this kind of relationship, where each day they experience the glorious adventure of seeing a living God at work, answering prayer, and giving to them things that they ask. But in this passage we have a beautiful picture of the normal life of a Christian. It is all centered in prayer, because prayer is the most fundamental relational activity that a Christian can experience. Prayer is the expression of dependence on a loving God, and the whole Christian life is to be characterized by a continuous attitude and spirit of prayer.

Look at the earmarks of true prayer that John brings out in this passage. First, there is the spirit of prayer. We have confidence before God (and the word is, literally, boldness); we have boldness before God. If you have boldness before someone, it implies that you are in a close relationship with that person, that you have a clear right to come before him or her. There is no fear of rebuke but a good understanding between you. Thus, to have confidence or boldness before God implies that you have a clear understanding of your right to come before Him. Continue reading


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From Mars Hill to Times Square

Mars Hill Staff Devotional

The Sermon given was rooted in Acts 17.

In 1957 Rev. Billy Graham preached to a crowd of some 125,000 in the middle of Times Square, New York! Using the passage from Acts 17 where Paul delivered the gospel to the learned men of Athens gathered on Mars Hill, Rev Graham also spoke a simple and powerful message of Christ to those gathered. Do you think this kind of event could happen today? Why or why not? Click on the link below to watch an incredible vintage video!

http://espace.wheaton.edu/bgc/NYC57/cn54f149.html

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Friendship With God

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Oswald Chambers

Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? — Genesis 18:17

We often think with joy that Jesus is our friend, but what are some of the challenges of His friendship? Why did Abraham stop praying when he did? He was not intimate enough yet to go boldly on until God granted his desire, there was something yet to be desired in his relationship to God.

Read this message from Oswald Chambers for more insight: http://utmost.org/classic/friendship-with-god-classic/


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Listening to God

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Are You Listening to God?

 

We began today’s staff devotional with Exodus 20:19, “They said to Moses, ’You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” Do you prefer to listen to God, or to someone who teaches you about God?

Before you answer, read this devotional from Oswald Chambers . . .http://utmost.org/are-you-listening-to-god/


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7 Realities of Experiencing God

Mars Hill Staff Devotional

We took an abbreviated look at the 7 Realities of Experiencing God from the “Experiencing God” study by Blackaby and King. Our relationship and fellowship with God grows by His initiation in our lives, and by our response to His initiation. How deep do you want your fellowship in Jesus to be? It is as deep as your response level to Him.

1. God is always at work around you.
2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real
and personal.
3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer,
circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes,
and His ways.
5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a
crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in
what He is doing.
7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He
accomplishes His work through you.

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To learn more about this great study, click here:  http://www.blackaby.net/expgod/


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Days of Heaven on Earth

Mars Hill Staff Devotinal

 

Launching from an AB Simpson devotional, we discussed what it means to “pray without ceasing” – 1 Thess 5:17. Among other things, we concluded that constant intimate communion with God requires us to get beyond a formal “religious” concept of prayer.

An important help in the life of prayer is the habit of bringing everything to God, moment by moment, as it comes to us in life. This may become a habit the same way all habits are formed: repeated and constantly attended, moment by moment, until that which is at first an act of will becomes spontaneous and second nature.

Read a bit more here: http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/simpson?mmdd=0121