These prayer guides are written by The Grove's founding pastor, Jerry Conner.
As we pray this week we will be unpacking what it is to pray, discovering the who, how, what, where, when of prayer and hopefully growing deeper in our relationship with God.
Thursday, May 7
Looking for God’s answers
1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
David wrote Psalm 63 from the desert, a place of desolation and desperation. He was not in a place where he longed to live, but he found himself in a place he hoped he would not have to experience. Scholars believe he wrote this when he fled to the desert in Judah from his own son Absalom who was seeking to kill him. David was a man who lived his life pressing into his relationship with God. To him this was a very personal matter, crying out for a very real situation.
From the beginning, he acknowledged and aligned himself with God and he was pursuing his God with great earnestness. He was pouring his heart and emotions out to God, he was putting his whole self into praying to God, he longed for God like a long cool drink while he was physically in the heat of the desert. He was expecting something from God that he could not find on his own in his current setting.
For David, his relationship with God was always on his mind. Whether he was on the run in the heat of the day, or on his bed in the middle of the night, his heart and mind were steadfast in pursuing his Lord.
Like Jesus taught the people in Matthew 7, we must be willing to ask, seek and knock to experience God’s faithful responses. It is one thing to ask God for what we need, and some stop there and never realize what Good has for them. Others will take the initiative of the next step to seek God out. Our prayers will require our involvement of looking for the answers and at times they will come in ways and places we never expected. We must also be willing to stand at the door and knock, and knock, and knock, waiting for God’s response. We don’t know when he will come to the door, so we keep knocking.
For some, if they don’t get what they want in the time and ways they want it, then they look for ways to deal with their needs on their own. Their initiative is to satisfy their needs by their own methods. They assume God was too busy, or not interested in answering their prayer, so they will take care of it on their own.
But God is looking at prayer as a relationship with him, like David had with him. David was very aware of his circumstances but his heart longed for God. Are you and I standing at the door knocking to get what we want, to or are we wanting for God to open a door to himself?
Father, Thank you that you long for us to call to you. We have seen you in your sanctuary and beheld your power and glory, and so we praise you for your goodness.
- Take a moment to recall how you have experienced God and his power in your life.
Father we long for you to the depths of our souls, to know you and experience your goodness in our lives.
- Take a moment and express to him how you long for him in your words.
Father, we cry out to you and ask, plead, for your hand to move in this area of our life. We cling to you like David did – in your own words cry out to God for your own needs. We look for your good answer, in your timing and manner. We stand knocking and waiting for you to open so we can be with you.
- Take a moment to pray for God to allow churches buildings across our city to open again so we can gather to worship him in his congregation. May he be praised by his people in Jesus name, Amen.
Wednesday, May 6
Praying for others
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
The early church father, Augustine, said prayer is “the soul’s articulation of its longing for God.” He went on , “In prayer, God increases our capacity for God’s gift of himself.” Prayer and spiritual transformation are deeply integrated. In fact, there can be little or no inner renewal apart from prayer. It is in prayer, before God, where lasting sanctification of our lives occur.
When Jesus prayed for his followers, including us, he asked that our lives would be changed more than the circumstances of our lives. That our lives would be set apart from the rest of the world, purified and made sacred because of God’s truth.
Paul prayed many prayers for the believers in his first century ministry. He was always thanking God for them, holding them up, asking God to strengthen them in their souls so they could live lives that would bless God and others. He would bless them for their faith of Christ’s growing presence in them and their fellowship of love for one another and others around them.
He would remind them that he was constantly praying for them, (Eph 1:16, Col 1:9, 2 Tim 1:3, 2 Thess 1:11) asking God to give them wisdom and knowledge of his will so they could live lives that would please God.
He would pray that grace and holiness would grow in their hearts and minds; that they would live blameless lives worthy of the Lord and please him in every way. Paul longed for his friends to grow in demonstrating love and knowledge of God’s truth, that they would have full understanding of every good thing that they have in Christ. (1 Thess 3:13; 1 Cor 1:8; Col 1:10; Phil 1:9; Eph 1:18-19; Philemon 6)
He prayed that his friends would be filled with Christ himself, bearing the fruit of righteousness and have a full measure of the fullness of God. He longed for them to demonstrate the strength and power of God through their lives. Paul prayed that their love would lead them to greater depths of knowledge of God and bring him glory and praise. (Phil 1:9-11)
Praying this way for others changes everything for the lives of those we love. Yes we are aware and concerned for the circumstances of their lives, but their souls hold the presence of God, who can use their circumstances to demonstrate his love, goodness, strength and joy in ways that bring peace and hope into their lives.
As you and I pray for those we know, and know of, who are facing the challenges of Coronavirus and its effects, let us pray that they would be filled with all of who God is and what he can do in and through their lives. May they experience his nearness and peace as they allow God to shape their lives to look like Jesus in their circumstances.
Father, We pray for our brothers and sisters who are facing the challenges that this virus has placed on their lives. Some are ill, some have lost jobs and businesses. For some, this ‘stay at home order’ has put new strains on their marriages, and families. The anxiety some have experienced is creating fear and stress in their lives that is overwhelming their hearts.
Father, we pray for our brothers and sisters that you would make yourself known to them in the midst of their circumstances. May they experience your extraordinary presence that brings them strength in their souls to face their days. May you bring understanding and clarity to their minds according to your truth that produces righteousness and hope.
Father, may their love for you and Christ grow in their hearts and may that love be demonstrated in the ways they love their family and others in their lives and days. May their lives, and our own, bring you glory today as you set us apart for your purposes. Amen.
Tuesday, May 5
Jesus Teaches Us How to Pray
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
[For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.’ ”]
“Experience can’t be taught – only caught”. There are some things that can’t be learned by reading a book or even watching someone else, these are the things we have to grow in by engaging in them. Prayer is like singing, it is something you learn and get better in by doing it. Like a singer can get better through the help of a vocal coach, a persons prayer life will grow stronger by getting some advise and the Bible is full of people’s experience of praying to God. Every hero of the faith in the Bible has much to tell us about prayer, but none so clearly as Jesus, God’s Son.
Jesus taught his followers how to pray, twice, using the same prayer and all of Jesus’ teachings and the gospel itself is encapsulated in this beautiful prayer.
Charles Spurgeon said “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”
Learning how to pray and growing in it, is one of God’s greatest gifts that he has given all of his children and learning how to pray as Jesus taught his disciples will help us grow in our spiritual lives. Our prayer lives are not intended to be a performance for others to relish, in but a personal interaction that refreshes our relationship with God. We pray in the spirit where our hearts and minds are exposed to God’s eyes regardless of what others might see of our lives.
Jesus teaches us that there are 7 gospel priorities built into this prayer. His prayer aligns our perspective in a right order – God first then the person.
- We are in an extraordinary relationship where we can call God Father.
- God is unique and not like us in any way, he is holy, sacred and worthy of worship. All his ways are completely good, true, pure and right – always.
- God has a kingdom that he is advancing. anyone who desires to enter into God’s presence is to encounter His kingdom, the place of his reign and rule. As we seek to see God’s kingdom come in our communities, we should begin to see people coming to discover God’s goodness and love for them and making decisions to follow Him.
- We discover the priority of lordship to the Father. God begins to show us His will, and the answer to our prayers, through our own lordship to Him.
- We discover our daily dependence upon God, everything we have is from his hands and he is completely capable of providing for us.
- He values right relationships; He forgave us and expects us to forgive others in the same way.
- He desires us to live under his authority and experience his protection from evil.
The Lord’s prayer is not just a prayer that we are to recite, but it must become the model and guide for how we are to pray to him. It should set our perspectives of Who we are praying to, how we are to pray to Him, and the priorities of his kingdom that He loves.
Father, Thank you that we can come before you in prayer. Teach us to pray as your son taught his disciples to pray…
‘Our Father in heaven,
Thank him that you can call him Father.
hallowed be your name,
Recognize he is completely holy and distinct from all of creation.
your kingdom come,
Pray for the places that come to your mind where his kingdom should reign.
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Before God, submit your desires about the matters on your heart to his will.
Give us today our daily bread.
Thank him for the ways he has and is providing for your life
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Ask God for forgive your sin and for help to forgive others in your life
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
The enemy is defeated by the gospel that is expressed in our trust of God’s strength. We must be willing to stay behind and live under the authority of God, His ways and will.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.’
Worship him for his goodness, power and glory and thank him for being eternal.
Thank you Father for hearing our prayer, in Jesus name, Amen.
Monday, May 4
Knowing Who God is Impacts how We Pray to Him.
5 I am the Lord, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,
6 so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
7 I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things.
8 “You heavens above, rain down my righteousness;
let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
let salvation spring up,
let righteousness flourish with it;
I, the Lord, have created it.
This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: 3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
John 16: 23-24
23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
When you pray to God, do you think about who is it that you are praying to?
It is vitally important to know who you are praying to when you begin to pray. It will influence your entire prayer experience.
The way you know and view God will determine how you will pray to him. If God, to you, is a vindictive God, or a distant and uninvolved God, your prayers and expected results will be performance oriented with low expectations. If you seek God when you have a problem that needs to be fixed, then God becomes your servant, like a genie in the bottle that comes out when you rub it. Do your prayers tend to center around you and making your life better, or God and what he is doing in his kingdom?
We know God because he has revealed himself to us. At some point deep within us, in our hearts or minds or souls, in that place that can not be touched or taken out, it can not be x-rayed, but yet we know it is there - it is there that God has revealed himself to us. In that secret place. That is the you who is being called to pray before him, where you can talk, learn, hope, dream and change.
How does knowing that God is omniscient and knows everything and doesn’t need you or I to inform him of anything, how does that influence the way you pray to him?
Knowing that God will not change himself or his purposes, how does that impact how you approach him in prayer? Knowing that God is eternal and knows the past, present and future as clearly as we can look at a painting.
The God you pray to is sovereign over all creation and has all power over all things, how does that influence the faith that you begin to pray with?
Knowing that God is good and faithful, and merciful and gracious, to you and the individuals and situations you may be praying about whether they are strangers or family, friends or enemies, his response will always be faithful to who he is and loving to you and others.
When we pray, it is a spiritual activity for a spiritual encounter with a spiritual God. When we pray we are coming before the living and sovereign God whether we are giving thanks for a meal or kneeling in confession over sin, or standing in the gap for another person. In prayer, we are engaging into a spiritual realm where spiritual resources provide love, wisdom and power to bring about his purposes, and a realm where spiritual authorities govern our physical realities over forces of good and evil and where we can grow in spiritual maturity that is gauged by our ability to discern the differences. When we pray, we come before the God of all things who wants to use us to do his things.
Father, Thank you that we can come before you in prayer. What a great gift of your grace. Thank you that in your presence we can know you better and discover your ways. Help us to have hearts and minds that are moldable to your heart and mind.
- In your words, Thank God for the ability to come before him in prayer.
- Thank him for making himself known to you. Focus on one or two of his attributes and acknowledge who he is.
- Ask him to shape your prayers to be pleasing to him and his purposes.
- Ask that he would give our government leaders wisdom to lead our country well during this time.
- Pray that he would demonstrate his sovereignty and provide a vaccine that will be effective and developed soon.
Father, May we grow to know you better and desire to pray in ways that would demonstrate your great presence with us. Amen