1. TALKING TO GOD
a. How did our first parents talk with God, and how did sin interrupt this communication? Genesis 1:27–30; 3:8–10; 1 Timothy 2:5.
“After the transgression of Adam, the Lord spoke no longer directly with man; the human race was given into the hands of Christ, and all communication came through Him to the world.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 237.
b. What privilege has God provided so that we who are sinners can still individually communicate freely with Him? John 16:23 (last part), 24; Matthew 7:7, 8.
“Prayer is the breath of the soul. It is the secret of spiritual power. No other means of grace can be substituted, and the health of the soul be preserved. Prayer brings the heart into immediate contact with the Well-spring of life, and strengthens the sinew and muscle of the religious experience. Neglect the exercise of prayer, or engage in prayer spasmodically, now and then, as seems convenient, and you lose your hold on God. The spiritual faculties lose their vitality, the religious experience lacks health and vigor. . . .
“It is only as we behold Jesus that we desire to be like Him, only as we view His righteousness that we hunger and thirst to possess it; and it is only as we ask in earnest prayer, that God will grant us our heart’s desire.
“God’s messengers must tarry long with Him, if they would have success in their work.”—Gospel Workers, pp. 254, 255.
2. COMMUNICATION ESSENTIAL TO FRIENDSHIP
a. God wants you to be His friend. What three aspects are the basis for this relationship? John 15:13–15.
“Every association we form, however limited, exerts some influence upon us. The extent to which we yield to that influence will be determined by the degree of intimacy, the constancy of the intercourse, and our love and veneration for the one with whom we associate. Thus by acquaintance and association with Christ we may become like Him, the one faultless Example.
“Communion with Christ—how unspeakably precious! Such communion it is our privilege to enjoy if we will seek it, if we will make any sacrifice to secure it.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 222, 223.
b. To how many people does God offer this relationship? John 3:16. Name someone who took up God’s offer of friendship. James 2:23.
c. How do friendships usually begin? Proverbs 18:24. While obeying God will be the evidence of our friendship with Him (John 15:14), what action is essential in order to build our friendship with Him? Philippians 4:6.
“Our heavenly Father waits to bestow upon us the fullness of His blessing. It is our privilege to drink largely at the fountain of boundless love. What a wonder it is that we pray so little! God is ready and willing to hear the sincere prayer of the humblest of His children, and yet there is much manifest reluctance on our part to make known our wants to God. What can the angels of heaven think of poor helpless human beings, who are subject to temptation, when God’s heart of infinite love yearns toward them, ready to give them more than they can ask or think, and yet they pray so little and have so little faith? The angels love to bow before God; they love to be near Him. They regard communion with God as their highest joy; and yet the children of earth, who need so much the help that God only can give, seem satisfied to walk without the light of His Spirit, the companionship of His presence.”—Steps to Christ, p. 94.
3. SUBMITTING OURSELVES ENTIRELY
a. How many times did Jesus pray in Gethsemane for the same difficulty? Did the words of His prayer change? Matthew 26:39, 42, 44.
“Three times has He uttered that prayer. Three times has humanity shrunk from the last, crowning sacrifice. But now the history of the human race comes up before the world’s Redeemer. He sees that the transgressors of the law, if left to themselves, must perish. He sees the helplessness of man. He sees the power of sin. The woes and lamentations of a doomed world rise before Him. He beholds its impending fate, and His decision is made. He will save man at any cost to Himself. He accepts His baptism of blood, that through Him perishing millions may gain everlasting life. He has left the courts of heaven, where all is purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one world that has fallen by transgression. And He will not turn from His mission. He will become the propitiation of a race that has willed to sin. His prayer now breathes only submission: ‘If this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.’”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 690, 693.
b. How did Jesus submit Himself to the Father? Matthew 26:39 (last part). Did the Father answer the prayer of Jesus to save Him from the cross? Verses 45, 46; Romans 8:32 (first part).
c. What can we learn from Jesus’ prayer of submission? James 4:6–8.
“It is hard for us to submit to the crucifixion of self; but when the work is all submitted to God, to Him who knows our weaknesses and our sinfulness, He takes the very best way to bring about the desired results. It was through constant conflict and simple faith that Enoch walked with God. We may all do the same.”—The Review and Herald, June 22, 1886.
“The Lord will do His part if the human agent will submit to the control of the Holy Spirit. If we consecrate to God body, soul, and spirit, He will do just as He said—He will be found of all those who seek Him diligently.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, pp. 96, 97.
4. PERSISTENT PLEADING WHEN IN DIFFICULTY
a. What did Jacob pray for when he heard that his brother Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men as he was returning to his father’s house in Palestine? Genesis 32:9–11.
b. After sending a present to Esau to appease him, how did Jacob again lay his fears and cares before God? Hosea 12:4. What persistence and determination did Jacob demonstrate? Genesis 32:24–31.
“Jacob sent his family across the ford of the river, while he alone remained behind. He had decided to spend the night in prayer, and he desired to be alone with God. God could soften the heart of Esau. In Him was the patriarch’s only hope.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 196.
c. How did God, in answering Jacob’s prayer, change both Jacob and Esau? Genesis 32:31; 33:4.
“The error that had led to Jacob’s sin in obtaining the birthright by fraud was now clearly set before him. He had not trusted God’s promises, but had sought by his own efforts to bring about that which God would have accomplished in His own time and way. As an evidence that he had been forgiven, his name was changed from one that was a reminder of his sin, to one that commemorated his victory. ‘Thy name,’ said the Angel, ‘shall be called no more Jacob [the supplanter], but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.’
“Jacob had received the blessing for which his soul had longed. . . .
“While Jacob was wrestling with the Angel, another heavenly messenger was sent to Esau. In a dream, Esau beheld his brother for twenty years an exile from his father’s house; he witnessed his grief at finding his mother dead; he saw him encompassed by the hosts of God. This dream was related by Esau to his soldiers, with the charge not to harm Jacob, for the God of his father was with him.”—Ibid., pp. 197, 198.
5. TRUE COMMUNION CHANGES LIVES
a. What does God know about us? Matthew 6:8 (last part). What is our greatest need? Ezekiel 36:26, 27.
“The change we need is a change of heart, and can only be obtained by seeking God individually for His blessing, by pleading with Him for His power, by fervently praying that His grace may come upon us, and that our characters may be transformed. This is the change we need today, and for the attainment of this experience we should exercise persevering energy and manifest heartfelt earnestness.”—Selected Messages, bk1, p. 187.
b. What assurance do we have that God has an answer prepared before we pray? Isaiah 65:24; Matthew 6:8. What is the purpose of God in prayer? John 14:13, 14.
“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.”—Steps to Christ, p. 93.
“Prayer is not intended to work any change in God; it brings us into harmony with God. It does not take the place of duty.”—The Youth’s Instructor, August 18, 1898.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. When we fail to maintain regular communion with God through prayer, what happens to us?
2. Why is prayer essential to developing a friendship with God?
3. Describe the experience of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, as He submitted to His Father’s will.
4. For whom was Jacob praying as he wrestled with the Angel?
5. Why do we so much need to pray when God knows everything about us already?