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Bible Study: The privilege of prayer

NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Bible Studies For Life curriculum.

Bible Passage: Luke 11:1-4

Discussion Question:

— What program or series on TV are you tempted to binge watch?

Food for Thought by Matt Tullos*

Since the pandemic, we have sharpened a peculiar set of skills all under the umbrella of watching. In fact, many research studies have concluded that Americans spend more time in media (television, streaming services, social media, messaging and gaming) than they sleep. Binge watching has become a national pastime.

I have to admit that I’m disappointed when I watch a series that makes me wait a whole week to find out if the guy in the series will discover that his wife is a Russian spy.

And yet, binge praying never really caught on.

If it did, some amazing things would happen. Most believers don’t set aside time to pray each day. Only 31 percent of believers claim they set aside time for prayer. What’s wrong with this picture?

Throughout the Gospels, we read that Jesus spent large blocks of His time praying. If the Son of God needed prayer that much, we too must pray in faith.

The disciples saw Jesus control and command the weather, heal chronic illnesses, send demons running to the far regions and feed multitudes, but the disciples asked Him to teach them one primary skill: prayer. They knew from Jesus’ mode of operation that prayer was the key that unlocked all the other doors of empowered living.

Think about it. We get an audience with the One who created everything from the rings of Saturn to the beasts of the Serengeti. He created my wife. If she were not around, I don’t think I’d ever find my keys!

Seriously though, the chance to kneel before the Father and have a conversation is the greatest thing this side of heaven. It’s an opportunity for deep growth. As Søren Kierkegaard put it, “Prayer doesn’t change God, but it changes him who prays.”

While the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5–7 expands Christ’s teaching on prayer, let’s begin with a brief examination of the Model Prayer.

Right from the start, we see that the focus isn’t a laundry list of fears, needs, concerns and obsessions. The focus is on the Father. Our culture knows the Lord’s Prayer from movies, locker rooms, hospitals and a million other locations. It’s a cultural default prayer that we use when we want to pray, but we don’t have the words to pray conversationally.

We often forget that the Lord’s Prayer reveals a powerful outline and a radical message about prayer. Most Christians pray for God to work, but prayer is God working on you. That’s what the Lord’s Prayer does. It is intended to help us refocus our priorities around the movement of God. It reframes our attitude and our focus away from the chaos of daily life. It centers us on God’s heart. The Lord’s Prayer reminds me that in Christ, I have the resources to face anything.

Through the years, I’ve come to understand that the Lord’s Prayer is really about releasing:

• “Father, your name be honored as holy.” I release my urge to play God with my circumstances.

• “Your kingdom come.” I release my kingdom to embrace Yours.

• “Give us each day our daily bread.” I release the desire to be a self-made provider.

• “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us.” I release forgiveness to those who have wounded me, and I recognize and repent for the wounds I have caused to others and even to myself.

• “And do not bring us into temptation.” I release my long-held belief that I am more powerful than my sins and addictions. And I release my personal possessions, properties, fame and strength to embrace all that is You.

Life becomes a celebration and a conversation with our Creator if we are willing to surrender everything to Him. The other option is to keep striving when transformation and rest is waiting at arm’s length if we would only surrender.

*Matt Tullos has been writing dramatic content, devotionals, sermons, videos, poems and humor since 1985.

Bible Studies for Life

Bible Studies for Life is a family of resources addressing key issues in the lives of adults, students, and kids. Visit www.biblestudiesforlife.com and use it to help you “Connect the Unconnected, Strengthen Families, and Disciple People with Wisdom.” Free session downloads are available, plus PDFs and videos that accompany this Bible study resource.

    About the Author

  • Staff/Lifeway Christian Resources