Bible Study Notes 1/10/2023
Word Alive! © 2022 Fall / Winter Series Connected! Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 10 Jan. 2023, Lesson 6, Part 2
Thom S. Rainer, Connected – My Life In The Church (Session 6)
Devotional Time: Thom S.Rainer, Connected, Chapter 6 (pp. 55-63)
Connected In Prayer – Prayer is the greatest spiritual discipline Jesus taught His disciples. In addition to teaching the disciples the true purpose of prayer, Jesus modeled prayer as an essential discipline in His own life (See, Mark 1:35-36, NLT). Jesus was exemplary in His prayer life, and encouraged His disciples to pursue prayer in the same manner. We see evidence of this in the ministry of the early Christian church. The apostles encouraged and expected Christians to pray for each other. Such prayers were not repetitious sayings; but they required a pure heart, and passionate engagement. The Holy Spirit was to lead Christians in prayer, and they were to engage in the discipline on “all” occasions (Read, Ephesians 6:18, NLT). The Apostle Paul and other leaders of the Church passionately requested prayer for their ministry; regardless of the hardships they were encountering (Read, Ephesians 6:19-20, NLT). While there were in ancient times, and today, ministries which are specifically devoted to prayer; every Christian is to engage in personal and corporate prayer. For example, during the time of Christ’s birth, Anna, a devout widow, engaged in a prophetic ministry; she remained in the Temple worshiping; fasting; and in prayer, day and night (See, Luke 2:36-37, NLT). All persons in the Church at Philippi were instructed: “Do not be anxious about anything Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.” (Philippians 4:6, NLT). In answering the concern of a disciple, Jesus gave the disciples, and all Christians, the foundational principles of prayer (Read, Luke 11:1ff. NLT; See also, Matthew 6:9-13, NLT). We may note, John the Baptist taught a prayer of repentance and preparation for the Messiah. Because Jesus is the Messiah, He taught people to pray for and embrace His kingdom; its nearness in their lives; and for salvation through faith in Him. The necessity of prayer for each other is so compelling. We see this near the end of Jesus’ life, while He prayed in Gethsemane. Jesus requested the disciples to pray for themselves; for Him; and to remain awake. Instead, they fell asleep, and experienced some of the consequences Jesus had warned them about (Read, Mark 14:32;37, NLT). We should always pray, and remain alert! (Read, James 5:17, NLT). Three principles about prayer:
a. As Christians, we must consistently pray for each other.
b. Prayer is the one great discipline Jesus emphasized.
c. Prayer is as much a life example as it is speech.
Connected In Prayer, Part 2 – In his very insightful study series, Connected – My Life In The Church, author and pastor Thom S. Rainer, relates an encounter between another great Christian author and a Chinese pastor, who despite warnings by the Chinese government, was baptizing believers in public ceremonies. The other author asked the Chinese pastor, “What can we do to help you.” The pastor replied, “You can pray. Please tell the church to pray.” The American Christian author immediately thought of some kind of material support (money or resources). He later realized that the Chinese pastor and church members believed that “prayer” was the most powerful resource they could ever have. When Christians take seriously the power of prayer, miraculous things can happen! This was known by the early Christian church. The Apostle James instructed the members of the Church, and its leaders, to engage in persistent prayer; ensuring their physical healing and spiritual well-being (See. James 5:13-15, NLT). We can also note that a prerequisite for prayer; and a part of prayer, is the confession of our sins. It is this personal and corporate act of devotion that clears the path for prayers to be heard and acted upon. Any spiritual discipline we exercise, requires the elimination of distractions and sinful residue. When this happens, there is great power in our prayers (Read, James 5:16-18, NLT). The Church has weathered many storms, since its establishment by Jesus. The early Christians came to realize the efficacy and power of prayer. Like the saints of old, we must be “bold” in our exercise of prayer; focusing on Jesus, and not ourselves. A bold prayer is not about the latest cliches, nor the popular language we often hear in our Christian circles. Boldness does not mean “commanding” God to do anything. Boldness is “confident affirmation” in what God has decreed and declared in His word. Boldness is given by the Holy Spirit (See, Acts 4:29-31, NLT). We might note that after the Church prayed, its members carried out their ministry (“preached the Word of God”) with boldness. Boldness in the New Testament Greek is parrhesia; which means, “to speak plainly; freely; without confusion or ambiguity). Prayer, for self and others, involves sincere preparation (Read, Psalm 66:18-20, NLT).
__________________________KEY IDEA __________________________
What We Believe!
“Intercessory prayer connects Christians to each other.”
Jesus taught prayer as the most important discipline.
We are made stronger when we pray for each other.
Ephesians 6:18, NLT
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
Ephesians 6:19-20, NLT
“And pray for me too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for Him, as I should.”
Luke 11:1 NLT
“Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As He finished, one of His disciples came to Him and said, “Lord teach us to pray, just as John taught His disciples.”
Mark 14:32;37 NLT
“They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I pray.” Then He returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray so, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
James 5:17, NLT
“Never stop praying.”
James 5:13-15, NLT
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praise. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins you will be forgiven.”
James 5:16-18, NLT
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years. Then when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.”
Acts 4:29-31, NLT
“And now. O Lord, hear their threats and give us your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power. May miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word Of God with boldness.”
Psalm 66:18-20, NLT
“If I had not confessed my sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withhold His unfailing love from me.”
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