1. A MODEL PRAYER
a. Why is it so important to stay in touch with our Saviour? John 15:4–7; Proverbs 18:24.
“Through nature and revelation, through His providence, and by the influence of His Spirit, God speaks to us. But these are not enough; we need also to pour out our hearts to Him. In order to have spiritual life and energy, we must have actual intercourse with our heavenly Father. Our minds may be drawn out toward Him; we may meditate upon His works, His mercies, His blessings; but this is not, in the fullest sense, communing with Him. In order to commune with God, we must have something to say to Him concerning our actual life.”—Steps to Christ, p. 93.
b. Since the disciples saw Jesus often in earnest prayer, what did they ask Him to teach them and what model did He provide? Luke 11:1; Matthew 6:9–13.
c. Was this model prayer meant to be merely memorized and repeated over and over again? What other lessons can we learn from this instruction? Matthew 6:7.
2. ADDRESS AND ADORATION
a. What do we comprehend by the words at the beginning of this model prayer “Our Father”? Romans 8:15–17; John 20:17.
“Those who accept Christ as their personal Saviour are not left as orphans, to bear the trials of life alone. He receives them as members of the heavenly family; He bids them call His Father their Father. They are His ‘little ones,’ dear to the heart of God, bound to Him by the most tender and abiding ties. He has toward them an exceeding tenderness, as far surpassing what our father or mother has felt toward us in our helplessness as the divine is above the human.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 327.
b. What other important role does God have besides the friendly term, “Our Father”? Psalm 5:1, 2.
c. According to the next section in this prayer, before asking God for help, what important point are we to express first? Psalms 140:13; 92:1.
“ ‘In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:18. This command is an assurance that even the things which appear to be against us will work for our good. God would not bid us be thankful for that which would do us harm.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 255.
d. In the example of Jehoshaphat, how is the importance of praise and thanksgiving revealed—even in the midst of battle? 2 Chronicles 20:1–30 (6–12, 21, 22).
“We must gather about the cross. Christ and Him crucified should be the theme of contemplation, of conversation, and of our most joyful emotion. We should keep in our thoughts every blessing we receive from God, and when we realize His great love we should be willing to trust everything to the hand that was nailed to the cross for us.
“The soul may ascend nearer heaven on the wings of praise. God is worshiped with song and music in the courts above, and as we express our gratitude we are approximating to the worship of the heavenly hosts. ‘Whoso offereth praise glorifieth’ God. Psalm 50:23. Let us with reverent joy come before our Creator, with ‘thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.’ ”—Steps to Christ, pp. 103, 104.
3. PETITION AND CLOSING
a. Even though we have our temporal needs such as our daily bread, what spiritual application is always to be our primary concern even over our temporal needs? 1 Kings 17:12–14; John 6:48; 14:13, 14; 15:7.
“It is by receiving the life for us poured out on Calvary’s cross, that we can live the life of holiness. And this life we receive by receiving His word, by doing those things which He has commanded. Thus we become one with Him.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 660.
“To pray in the name of Jesus is something more than a mere mention of that name at the beginning and the ending of a prayer. It is to pray in the mind and spirit of Jesus, while we believe His promises, rely upon His grace, and work His works.”— Steps to Christ, pp. 100, 101.
b. Since the main purpose of prayer is spiritual in nature, what specific request can never be forgotten? Luke 11:4; Matthew 26:41.
“Through being overcome with sleep, the disciples heard little of what passed between Christ and the heavenly messengers. Failing to watch and pray, they had not received that which God desired to give them—a knowledge of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. They lost the blessing that might have been theirs through sharing His self-sacrifice.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 425.
“God has always given men warning of coming judgments. Those who had faith in His message for their time, and who acted out their faith, in obedience to His commandments, escaped the judgments that fell upon the disobedient and unbelieving.”—Ibid., p. 634.
“It was in sleeping when Jesus bade him watch and pray that Peter had prepared the way for his great sin. All the disciples, by sleeping in that critical hour, sustained a great loss. Christ knew the fiery ordeal through which they were to pass. He knew how Satan would work to paralyze their senses that they might be unready for the trial. Therefore it was that He gave them warning. Had those hours in the garden been spent in watching and prayer, Peter would not have been left to depend upon his own feeble strength. He would not have denied his Lord. Had the disciples watched with Christ in His agony, they would have been prepared to behold His suffering upon the cross. They would have understood in some degree the nature of His overpowering anguish.”—Ibid., pp. 713, 714.
4. ANSWERS TO PRAYER
a. What are some of the main reasons why prayer is not always answered as we hope? James 4:3; Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 28:9.
“If we regard iniquity in our hearts, if we cling to any known sin, the Lord will not hear us; but the prayer of the penitent, contrite soul is always accepted. When all known wrongs are righted, we may believe that God will answer our petitions. Our own merit will never commend us to the favor of God; it is the worthiness of Jesus that will save us, His blood that will cleanse us; yet we have a work to do in complying with the conditions of acceptance.”—Steps to Christ, p. 95.
“Oh, how many lose the richest blessings that God has in store for them in health and spiritual endowments! There are many souls who wrestle for special victories and special blessings that they may do some great thing. To this end they are always feeling that they must make an agonizing struggle in prayer and tears. When these persons search the Scriptures with prayer to know the expressed will of God, and then do His will from the heart without one reservation or self-indulgence, they will find rest. All the agonizing, all the tears and struggles, will not bring them the blessing they long for. Self must be entirely surrendered. They must do the work that presents itself, appropriating the abundance of the grace of God which is promised to all who ask in faith.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 165.
b. What is necessary for prayer to be answered—and why? James 1:6, 7.
“When we do not receive the very things we asked for, at the time we ask, we are still to believe that the Lord hears and that He will answer our prayers. We are so erring and short-sighted that we sometimes ask for things that would not be a blessing to us, and our heavenly Father in love answers our prayers by giving us that which will be for our highest good—that which we ourselves would desire if with vision divinely enlightened we could see all things as they really are. When our prayers seem not to be answered, we are to cling to the promise; for the time of answering will surely come, and we shall receive the blessing we need most. But to claim that prayer will always be answered in the very way and for the particular thing that we desire, is presumption. God is too wise to err, and too good to withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly. Then do not fear to trust Him, even though you do not see the immediate answer to your prayers.”—Steps to Christ, p. 96.
5. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
a. In all prayer, what important point are we to always recognize and be ready to yield to? 1 John 5:14, 15.
“Our asking must be according to God’s will; we must ask for the things that He has promised, and whatever we receive must be used in doing His will. The conditions met, the promise is unequivocal.
“For the pardon of sin, for the Holy Spirit, for a Christlike temper, for wisdom and strength to do His work, for any gift He has promised, we may ask; then we are to believe that we receive, and return thanks to God.”— Education, p. 258.
b. How often are we to pray? Daniel 6:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
“God does not mean that any of us should become hermits or monks and retire from the world in order to devote ourselves to acts of worship. The life must be like Christ’s life—between the mountain and the multitude. He who does nothing but pray will soon cease to pray, or his prayers will become a formal routine. When men take themselves out of social life, away from the sphere of Christian duty and cross bearing; when they cease to work earnestly for the Master, who worked earnestly for them, they lose the subject matter of prayer and have no incentive to devotion. Their prayers become personal and selfish. They cannot pray in regard to the wants of humanity or the upbuilding of Christ’s kingdom, pleading for strength wherewith to work.”—Steps to Christ, p. 101.
c. Are there special circumstances that demand the channel of communication always to be open and what should be our attitude when coming before our Maker? Nehemiah 2:4, 5; Hebrews 4:16.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What was the purpose of the model prayer that Christ taught the disciples?
2. How important is adoration and praise to our Creator?
3. Although temporal needs are important, what should take priority?
4. What would be the greatest hindrances to prayer?
5. How important is it to know God’s will before we pray for specific things?