Writer: Joy Yankey
Big Idea: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Does prayer make a difference? Why pray if I tried that before and God didn’t answer my prayer? What’s the point of praying if God knows everything? How do we know we are praying correctly? Even when we try to pray, there are so many distractions. We are assaulted by what C.S. Lewis called the “Kingdom of Noise.” We are uncomfortable with silence. Developing a prayer life isn’t accomplished in a few months, it is a journey of a lifetime. There is too much depth in God to capture prayer easily. Jesus often encouraged His disciples to become like children. Instead of childlike, we pray “spiritually,” routine, or mechanical prayers. Jesus invites us to come like a child: messy, distracted, weary, worried, etc. Children are never frozen by their selfishness. Come with runny noses and dirty hands. Don’t try and get the prayer right; just tell God what’s on your mind. Praying “real” is better than praying “right.” In the opening words to the Lord’s Prayer are “Our Father.” If your human father failed you, imagine a good father. If you don’t know how to pray, start by telling God what’s on your mind. Remember when your child took their first steps? They were wobbly and unstable. That’s how prayer can initially feel. Approach Him like a wobbly child learning to take your first steps. Misconception Assessment.
Key Passages: Matthew 6:9, Rev. 3:20, Mark 10:14-15, Luke 10:21, Matthew 11:28, Matthew 21:16, Luke 15:1-2, Psalms 131:2
I love little kids, especially their appreciation and excitement over little details. Walks with little ones can take an hour to go around a short block because each flower and butterfly needs to be commented on and admired, accompanied by a non-stop chatter about whatever is on their mind. They live life in the moment and without worry, trusting that their parents are taking care of them. When I think about coming to Jesus as a child, this is what comes to mind: trusting that our Father is good with good plans and offering Him my stream of consciousness, whether excited, frustrated, upset, hopeful or confused. Kids don’t worry about what their parents think of them or work to clean themselves up first – they just come as they are. And that’s how God invites us to come to Him.
God invites each of us into a deeper relationship and conversation with Him through prayer. My bookshelves are lined with books on prayer; I have a deep longing for a more intimate relationship with Him in this way, and I am always hunting for that one “thing” that will help me go deeper. But in the end, it’s not a thing, but practicing what I already know: talking and sharing and listening – as I do with any friend with whom I want to deepen a relationship. The more purposeful I am in investing, the more the relationship grows. So with God, I have conversations in the car, while walking, while sitting or kneeling; I invite God into my everyday life while writing emails (or this devotional). I ask Him for direction as I decide which item on my to-do list to tackle next, confess my lack of patience with the slow driver in front of me, and thank Him for the beautiful sunshine and His amazing nighttime display. Prayer helps realign my heart as I remind myself who God is, who I am, and His purposes in this world.
And while that’s what I wish each day looks like, too often it is not. Instead, I fixate on my agenda and my to-do’s and rush through planning and meetings with just a cursory nod to God. I invite Him to bless what I am doing, rather than making the time to realign my heart to His. And God our Father patiently waits for me to return to Him. My favorite parable is the Parable of the Two Sons in Luke 15. I love the picture of God as the Father: He is our Father who comes running, embraces and speaks to us the moment we turn to Him. He doesn’t wait and ask us why it took so long, why we decided to come back, He just celebrates us. Even when our motives aren’t pure (the lost son came back because anything would be better than pig slop!), and even when we feel like we are stumbling with our words and aren’t sure how to pray, God embraces, listens and loves us.
God is infinite and there is always more we can learn about Him, ways we can grow deeper in our relationship with Him, and ways to grow and stretch in our prayer life with Him. As Jesus taught His disciples, we are invited to pray intimately to “Our Father.” He is our good Father, Creator and Ruler of all, yet through Christ we are invited to boldly enter His throne room, no matter where we are on our prayer journey. We give grace to toddlers who are just learning to walk – we don’t expect them to run a marathon. In the same way, God gives us grace (and give yourself grace!) as you grow in your prayer life with Him. Worship and thank Him, confess before Him and share your concerns – and make time to listen. The Creator of the Universe, Our Father, is waiting.
- If anyone is new, start here, if not go to question 2:
- When/how did you become aware of God’s love?
- Who were the people who played a key role in your spiritual journey? How?
- What are 2/3 key moments in your relationship with God?
- Take a moment to ask questions.
- What has been your experience of prayer?
- How have you experienced God’s answering prayer? How does that impact or shape your understanding of prayer?
- As we go through this series on prayer – keep a journal on what God is teaching you and be prepared to share each week. What did God teach/reveal to you this week? How is God encouraging you to pray?
Read Matthew 6:5-13
- Why did Jesus give His disciples this prayer?
- What does it mean for us to call God Our Father?
- How is He similar to your earthly father? Different?
Read Mark 10:13-16, Matthew 21:16, Psalm 131:2
- What is Jesus’ response to children?
- How do we “receive the kingdom of heaven like a little child?”
- What characteristics of children should we imitate in our walk with Christ?
What new practice will you try during this prayer series? (examples: begin or end the day in prayer, pray out loud with a friend or with your family, use the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) model in your prayer time.
Prayer: Take a moment to share prayer requests and pray for each other. Consider using the prayer in the prayer guide.
Weekly Prayer Focus: Throughout the week, pray that God would show you that He loves and cares for you.
Past Series Curriculum
Week 3: Matthew 5:21-30 – Anger, Judgement Date: September 23/24 Writer: Tracy Edwards Since Adam and Eve, we have been notoriously bad at determining for ourselves what is good and what is evil.…Read More
Week 1: Matthew 5:1-12 – Beatitudes Date: September 9 & 10 Writer: Steve Dang In first century Palestine, the people at the bottom of socio-economic-political pole were ignored and abandoned. But Jesus…Read More
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