Lesson 3 January 11-17
Discipleship and Prayer
Read for This Weekís Study: Dan. 9:2-19; Matt. 14:22-23; 26:36; John 17:6-26; Heb. 2:17; 1 Pet. 4:7.
Memory Text: "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17:20-21, NKJV).
Whatever else we do in the work for souls, whatever outreach programs we create, we are to earnestly pray for those whom we are seeking to reach. This is central to what it means to be a Christian, even more so a disciple-maker. What powerful changes might occur if constant, fervent prayer was central to our methodology in seeking to make and keep disciples!
"Let the workers grasp the promises of God, saying, "Thou hast promised, "Ask, and ye shall receive. "I must have this soul converted to Jesus Christ." Solicit prayer for the souls for whom you labor; present them before the church as objects for the supplication. . . . Select another and still another soul, daily seeking guidance from God, laying everything before Him in earnest prayer, and working in divine wisdom."-Ellen G. White, Medical Ministry, pp. 244, 245.Sunday
Frequently, prayer assumes a self-centered posture. Believers present their wish lists before God, hoping to get that which they ask for. Though, of course, we are told to set our petitions before God, sometimes our motives are not pure. After all, are not our hearts corrupt, wicked, and deceitful? Might not our prayers, at times, simply reflect the sinfulness that lies within?
Intercessory prayer, however, focuses on another personís needs, thus removing the likelihood of selfish motivation. Throughout history, intercessory prayers have represented the highest expressions of spiritual discourse. Untainted by the desire for personal gratification, these conversations demonstrate selflessness, compassion, and earnest longing for the salvation of others.
Read Daniel 9:2-19. What burdens Daniel throughout this prayer? What role does confession play within the prayer? Because of advanced age, Daniel would not likely personally benefit from Jerusalemís restoration. Therefore, what motivated this prayer?
Seventy years have passed since Jeremiah uttered the prophecy that Daniel now considers. After so many years, Danielís Jerusalem friends have likely already perished. Jerusalemís restoration would not restore Danielís personal fortunes, either. Nothing in Danielís prayer suggests selfish concerns. The ancient prophet expressly implores God regarding the future of the exiled Jewish nation and the reputation of Jehovah Himself. Extended confession precedes his requests. In confession Daniel includes himself among the disobedient. The prophet is unwilling to presume his own innocence. Daniel himself takes responsibility while primarily pursuing restoration in order to benefit others.
Think about your prayer life: what you pray for, why, and for whom. How much death to self is involved in it? How can you learn to be less self-centered in your prayer life? That is, how can your prayers, even the ones for yourself, be less selfish?Monday
Time for Prayer
Think through what prayer really is: fallen sinful beings, worthy of death, are able, instantly, to have direct communication with the Creator of the universe-our Holy God.
Also, when God in Christ clothed Himself in human flesh, accepting humanityís limitations, He, too, sensed the necessity of prayer. Though not standing before the Father in the same position that we as fallen sinners are, Jesus as a human still saw the necessity for prayer.
Read Matthew 14:22-23; 26:36; Mark 1:35-37; Luke 5:15-16; 6:12-13. What characterized Jesusí personal prayer life? Describe the circumstances that surrounded Jesusí praying. What lessons can we glean from the particulars of Christís prayer life such as frequency, location, and timing?
Christ certainly modeled the prayer life that He enjoined on His disciples. Mornings, evenings, after preaching, before preaching, whenever possible-Jesus prayed. Gardens, mountains, solitary places, wherever distractions subsided-Jesus prayed. Separated from the Fatherís presence spatially, Jesus united with the Father through prayer spiritually. Christís spiritual lifeblood came coursing through the spiritual artery of prayer. Should Christís modern followers-weakened by sinful tendencies, choked by worldly cares, frustrated by failures-settle for something less than Jesusí prayer life?
"Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him."-Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 93.
Read Mark 11:22-26, Luke 11:13, John 14:12-14. How are we to understand the promises written here about prayer? How have you experienced what Jesus said here? At the same time, how have you learned to cope when things you have prayed for havenít come as you have hoped?