“Prayer: Does it Make any Difference?”
Chapter 4: The God Who Is:
Page 46: “Prayer as a transaction rather than relationship can decline into a practice more duty than joy, an occasional and awkward exercise with little connection to life.”
A man may “say his prayers” at night or before meals, repeating words he learned in childhood. His wife prays more conversationally, in bits and snatches during the day, but she too views God as distant and unapproachable, off in heaven somewhere.”
“Neither has much sense of a loving God who wants an intimate involvement in their lives.”
Confess! Do you view the Lord this way? Do you see God as a distant, somewhere out there being that you have an obligation to pray to? Or how about the way I used to think – that if I didn’t pray, I would somehow be punished. God would stand there, hands on hips, and stare me down with a very disgusted look.
1. Do you feel obligated to pray to God? Is it something you delight in or is it a chore?
2. If you think of this as a chore, how are you praying? Is there a depth to the prayer? Or are you patronizing God? Are your prayers sort of like “Here’s a little something going on God, I’ll catch you later with the real details.”
3. In the hurriedness of our everyday life, do you see prayer as giving you strength or making you tired?
Page 50: “Why Pray? In one sentence the answer would be, “Because Jesus did.” He bridged the chasm between God and human beings. While on earth he became vulnerable, as we are vulnerable; rejected, as we are rejected; and tested, as we are tested. In every case his response was prayer.”
This has always been the kicker for me. I read how Jesus prayed to God, over and over, and I think to myself, wow, what kind of relationship is that? What must it feel like to be so close to God you pray for hours and then get up and say, “OK now I’m ready for the Pharisees, the Romans and the Gentiles.” Will I ever be able to have that?
1. Has the Lord helped guide you in prayer? What instances do you remember that the Lord prayed to God for direction? What instances did He pray to God for peace of mind?
2. Philip talks about the fact that God is already present in my life and all around me. Do you have the sense that God is always around you?
a. Let’s pray right now, asking God, through our Lord, to be present around you-never to leave; always to stay.
- i. Cut out the prayer card that is attached. Put it nearby as you do this study. God I pray that you are present with me. And I will be present with you.
Page 54: “I need to think more about God than about myself when I am praying…Prayer that focuses on God, meditative prayer, can serve as a kind of self-forgetfulness.”
For me, this statement is what life as a follower of Christ, is really about: self-forgetfulness. Philip is pointing out that we are asking for prayer for “God’s sake, not [our] own”.(p. 55) When we remove ourselves from the mundane worries of the day and focus on the larger issues that God created us to address here on earth, the fatigue of the daily grind tends to dissipate. In fact, do you ever wonder—what the heck was I worried about yesterday again? If only we could remember that while we’re in the process of worrying, right? Prayer can help us with that.
Write down every issue that is worrying you today.
1. Talk with the Lord, ask him, “How do you see me in your purpose on this earth?” How do the issues in my life serve you? Through your Holy Spirit, speak to me about what You would like me to focus on. Help me alleviate useless issues that disturb me.
a. Throughout the next chapters, note God’s direction in your life. Share that with others in the comment section. Your input can be an encouragement to all of us.