How does biblical knowledge change what I pray? To answer that question, I want to tell you a story from my life.
I love the biblical book of Isaiah. When I was a senior in high school we did The Sound of Music and I had the part of Sister Margareta. My lines at the end of the play, as the von Trap family left the Abby for their journey across the mountains to safety were taken from Isaiah 55:12: “For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” That started my love affair with that wonderful chapter in that amazing book. Today as I think about how knowing Scripture has affected my prayers, nothing has done so as much as Isaiah.
When I was thirty-one I went through a crisis of faith. I read a book by Karen Mains about her experience of dedicating her life totally to Christ and her journey as God took her seriously. Despite reading how that decision led to an emotional breakdown before coming to the sweetness of a close relationship with Jesus, I craved the reality she found. I knelt before God and prayed the same prayer, “God, I want to be completely Yours. I give myself wholeheartedly to You.”
Just like Karen, God took me on a journey where He pressed on every area of my life where I resisted Him. I became completely broken. Isaiah became alive for me. Isaiah 58:11 became to corner stone of my prayers, the plea of my heart. Isaiah wrote: “And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” I spent hours on the floor in tears, my Bible opened in front of me, turning over my scorched places to the Lord, crying out to Him to make me a garden not a wilderness. And after months of prayer, the freedom and sweetness came!
At a time when God was about to send judgment on His people for years of rebellion against Him, God gave Isaiah a message. It was terrifying for me. In Isaiah 6 God says, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.”
As I read those words, my prayer became, and still is to this day, “Father, please don’t ever say those words over me. Give me ears that hear, eyes that see, and a heart that understands. I want to see You.”
A paragraph in an article about prayer jumped off the page and into my heart this week. Pastor Brian Alarid noted in his article, A Daily Pursuit: “Passion is an irreplaceable necessity as we develop our prayer life. If you don’t care about what you’re praying for, why should God care?” This is another lesson Isaiah taught me. That book if full of emotion and reading it wraps you up in feeling the presence of God. Isaiah is heartbroken over sin, first his own, and then the sin of God’s people. He prophesied clearly about Jesus’ birth and sacrificial death, in descriptions that grab your heart. They surely grabbed the hearts of the New Testament writers, as they quote him more than any other Old Testament prophet.
Everything I learn about God from Scripture brings me to prayer.
He is the potter and I am the clay, therefore He has the complete right to make of me what He chooses. My prayer becomes a prayer of surrender. Every good gift comes from Him, therefore I come in praise and thanksgiving. He is the creator and sustainer of life so the beauty I see around me brings me to praise and thank Him for His creative love for me. He asks me not to worry or be anxious for He supplies life, health, joy, peace, salvation, forgiveness, an inheritance.
All these things lead me to prayers for what I need, for the needs of those around me, and for trust in His provision. He is the planner, the one who holds the present as well as the future, therefore I can trust Him for He says He works all things for my good and His glory. As I pray, believing what I learn of Him, panic ceases and peace comes. As I read how He has worked in the past I see He isn’t predictable, doesn’t move according to a set pattern, and doesn’t always do things according to the timetable of those who rely on Him. Lazarus had to die, Paul’s ship had to wreck, persecution had to come to the early church, Daniel and his friends had to be taken captive, Job’s life had to be shattered. I come to Him trusting that He will supply all my needs but also knowing that His list of my needs may differ from my own, His timetable is better than mine, and that His purposes and thoughts are far beyond and better than my own.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
Those things happen as I speak to Him after He has spoken to me. Our conversations push the teaching deep in my heart and break through the stubbornness and rebellion I’ve built up in my life. His truth brings passion, purpose, and motivation to equip me to love and serve Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Below the following video link study guide, you will find some activities for you to participate in this week. Pick two or more and prayerfully ask God to open your eyes to see, your ears to hear, and your heart to understand.
If you missed meeting with us via ZOOM on Wednesday morning, and before going to the Practical Application Assignments, we ask that you watch the YouTube Video “Biblical Knowledge & Prayer” from our Wednesday morning session at the following link: https://youtu.be/OSCxlq_UWYg
Practical Application Activities
Our key question for this session is “Why are biblical knowledge and discernment important in prayer?” After working on an activity in relation to this question, please send a message summarizing your efforts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video Activity – Dangerous Prayers
Please listen to Pastor Craig Groeschel’s message, “Dangerous Prayers.” The sermon is an excerpt from a prayer conference entitled Unleashed, livestreamed on June 19, 2020, and sponsored by Whenpeoplepray.
When you have listened to this 23-minute sermon, please take time to jot down an answer to the following questions. At the beginning of our next lesson on July 1, “Awakened Faith,” we will give you an opportunity to share what you have noted. Here are the questions to answer…
- What were the key points?
- What new ideas or questions did the message raise for you?
- What have you prayed about over the last week?
- How does that reflect what you believe about God?
Activity – Create in Me A Clean Heart
Are the following Scriptures captured in the song below as set to music by a Roman Catholic musician Terry Talbot? Are there any other Scriptures you think are reflected here? Psalm 51; Proverbs 3:5-7; Mark 8:34-38
Create in Me A Clean Heart
Chorus: Create in me a clean heart O God / Let me be like You in all my ways / Give me Your strength / Teach me Your song / Shelter me in the shadow of Your wings / For we are Your righteousness / If we die to ourselves / And live thro’ Your death / Then we shall be born again / To be blessed in Your love
Activity – PRAYING THE SCRIPTURES
- READ. Read the passage before you carefully, praying for insight and pausing to reflect on the words or statements that capture your attention. A good place to start in praying the Scriptures is the Psalms or the words of Christ.
- PARAPHRASE. Put in your own words the “BIG IDEA” conveyed by the passage – a universal principle (truth) that applies to all people of all time.
- PONDER (MEMORIZE). Since God’s person is the One that makes His word absolutely true and powerfully effective in our hearts and lives, identify one thing that must be true of God for the BIG IDEA to be true and relevant for you and me.
- PERSONALIZE. Identify the thing you feel in your heart must happen in your own life, or the life of your church or community, if God’s Word is to be fulfilled in space and time.
P Praise. Begin by telling God what you appreciate about the truth revealed about Him in this passage. Tell Him what you see in Him, perhaps for the first time, and what you appreciate about what you are learning about Him from the passage. Thank Him for His many gifts to you.
R Respond. Give voice to whatever is the most appropriate thoughts or actions in response to who He is and what He is saying through the passage. Remember, that by saying the prayer with sincerity you create a pathway for participating in concrete ways in the fulfillment of His Word in your life.
A Accept. Remember that God is as perfect in His goodness and love toward you as He is pure in character and sovereign over all of history from beginning to the end. So confidently enter His presence on the basis of Christ’s death for your sins, and wait upon Him for answers to the deepest cries of your heart (most urgent needs of our lives), on the basis of Christ’s intercession for you in heaven. This is the meaning of praying by faith, in Jesus’ name.
Y Yield. Let God choose the good that comes from your prayers. Yield up all “rights” to Him and be glad that you can partner with Him in the outworking of His good and glorious plan for our lives. Anticipate the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a lifting of burdens from your heart, and a settled peace of mind about the future.
|“Lord, help me to adopt an inner response of humility and gratitude to You – an open, receptive heart to whatever You want to say or do in, and through me.”|