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Abide 14 – Prayer Changes Everything!  

Day 1 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2)

Introduction There’s a very brief part of Jesus’ model prayer found in Luke 11 that many give little thought to, Luke 11:3 (NIV) Give us each day our daily bread. Is Jesus really saying that “daily bread” is the only need you have to pray for?  

Remember, this is a simple tool that Jesus gave his disciples, and to all who would follow him. It’s a guide for prayer. Of course, it wasn’t meant to be a complete list of everything that you can or should pray for!   After all, the apostle Paul referred to consistent prayer, saying, Ephesians 6:18 (ESV) … praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. And it’s something he practiced! Even Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer – which proves that there is MUCH to pray for.  

The Need for Intercessory Prayer  

Prayer is important, but if God is sovereign, then why is it necessary to ask for things in prayer? The answer is connected to God’s original plan when he created man and woman. Throughout the Bible, you can observe that God delegated authority and responsibility, for the care of all creation, to people. It all started with Adam and Eve, Genesis 1:26 (NIV) Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."  

This is exactly what one psalmist echoed, Psalm 115:16 (NIV) The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given (assigned) to mankind. The Hebrew word, “nathan,” translated here as “given,” means to assign. Put another way, God didn’t give away ownership of the earth, BUT he did assign responsibility of ruling it to humanity. This is staggering and a key reason why you need prayer!   Jesus also told his followers to pray - your kingdom come, your will be done (Matthew 6:10). Surely, he wouldn’t want you to waste your time asking for something that was going to happen anyways? Jesus anticipated that his followers would pray.  

Consider the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 and 18. According to James 5, Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain for three years. After the three-year drought, God said to Elijah … 1 Kings 18:1 (NIV) "Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land." According to verse 1, whose idea and will was it to send rain? God’s! YET it required Elijah’s perseverance in prayer to release God’s will here on earth!  

Now consider something else James reveals, James 5:17-18 (NIV) Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. Elijah was just like you! Did he ever sin? Was he ever discouraged? Did he ever want to quit? The Bible says, “yes,” to all of these! But he prayed, and God moved. And the same can happen for you!  

There are many stories in the Bible that highlight the incredible power of asking! When Abraham prayed on behalf of his nephew Lot, God spared Lot from the destruction that came on Sodom and Gomorrah. When Moses interceded, God changed his mind about killing Israel in the wilderness. When Daniel cried out to God in prayer, God set in motion the deliverance of Israel from Babylonian captivity. When the church prayed, Peter was set free from prison!  

Some things God WILL NOT move, unless you pray! Your prayers do make a difference – a huge difference! It changes everything! God wants you to pray for his will to be done in every area of your life; in your family, in your friends’ and acquaintances’ lives, in your city, in your country, and beyond.   He is calling you, a follower of the Way, to learn and grow in this truth - prayers of faith are not praying once but persevering in prayer!  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7)

1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. Why is intercessory prayer (asking) necessary? What does it accomplish?  

Life Application (James 1:22)

1. Can you think of a time in your life when you persevered in asking God for something that built his kingdom in some way? Write down what happened.

2. Call, text or, email a few friends. Ask them if they have something to share in response to Question 1.

3. Review John 15:5-6, Romans 12:2, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Peter 5:8, John 10:27, James 1:22, Psalm 1, Colossians 3:2, Psalm 39:4, Matthew 5:16. 4. Memorize Matthew 6:9-13.  

Bible Reading

1. Please read Matthew 27:1-26.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 2 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2)

God DESIRES to Answer Our Prayers A key reason why some don’t make requests in prayer is because they’re not convinced that God wants to answer. In response, Jesus told a powerful parable!  

Luke 11:5-7 (NIV) Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' "Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.'  

Jesus is asking, “Can you imagine going to a neighbor, asking for help to entertain a friend and getting such a response – don’t bother me?” The Middle Eastern responsibility for a guest is legendary; they are not just a guest of one home, but the entire community! Refusal in such a case is unthinkable.  

Jesus continues the parable, “And can you imagine that the neighbor offers such silly excuses about sleeping children and a locked door?!” The scenario is so unimaginable that it’s humorous to the listeners! Then Jesus brought home the lesson of the parable saying, Luke 11:8 (NASB) I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.  

The significance of the passage hangs on the meaning of the Greek word “anaideia,” translated persistence, which can have two meanings: shamelessness (a negative quality) or persistence (a positive quality). With only one exception from ancient Greek and the Greek version of the Old Testament, this word is translated as a negative (shame), never meaning persistence. It wouldn’t even make sense culturally as a guest in the Middle East wouldn’t have to ask but once!  

Therefore, the guest is received because of the shamelessness of the SLEEPER! The sleeper knows the host must gather up the essentials for the banquet from the various neighbors. IF the sleeper refused the request of anything so humble as a loaf of bread the host would continue his rounds cursing the stinginess of the sleeper, who would not get up even to fulfill this small request. The story would be all over the village by morning. The sleeper would be met with cries of “shame” everywhere he went. Because he wants to avoid being shamed, the sleeper WILL rise and grant whatever the borrower wants.  

This parable uses the lesser to greater argument. IF it is true that the sleeper will get up and get the bread, just to save face, THEN how much more will God, who loves you, grant your requests.  

God Offers to KEEP on Answering   In Luke 11 above, you see the words, “ask, seek, and knock.” There are so many things you can ASK for! For example, you can ask for food, resources to serve others, inner healing, growth in character, and more!  

There are also many things you can SEEK for. What has been lost? You can pray for something you’ve misplaced, or for a reminder of something you’ve forgotten. What about a restoration of strength, for work? How about a family member, or friend, or co-worker who is not a follower of the Way – you can pray for them to be found – the Bible teaches that they are lost.  

And you can KNOCK! This can include knocking on a door to gain entry to a closed opportunity.   Finally, it’s important to note that all three verbs – ask, seek, and knock - are in the present tense and active voice, meaning that a better translation of what Jesus said is: “keep on asking;” “keep on seeking;” and “keep on knocking.” Yes, this means that you need to persevere, but it also points to this beautiful truth – if you ask in prayer God is SO good that you’ll keep on receiving, finding, and experiencing open doors! Amen!  

Track Our Answers   A wise habit to get into is to find a place, perhaps in your journal, to track your answers to prayer. This is powerful for two reasons. First, it can spark gratitude in your heart, always a good thing! Second, it can inspire you to pray more. This is VITAL, as James says, James 4:2 (NIV) You do not have, because you do not ask God.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7)

1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. What is the point or points of the parable that was referred to today?  

Life Application (James 1:22)

1. Do you desire to pray? If not, don’t be consumed by guilt. But DO plan to change this:

a. Make it your #1 prayer request

b. Ask your spouse or friend to begin praying for you to have a desire to pray

c. Track your answers to prayer every day

d. Make sure you BEGIN with thanksgiving of specific answers from the day, previous day, week, previous week, and so on! That will jump start your prayer time!

e. Make sure you include listening to God. It’s amazing to hear him! 2. Review Matthew 6:9-13  

Bible Reading

1. Please read Matthew 27:27-44.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 3 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2)

God Desires to Give Us GOOD Gifts As Jesus continues to teach on prayer, he asks a profound question and gives an amazing promise, Luke 11:11-13 (NIV) Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!  

Do you understand the power of what Jesus is saying? He’s affirming that if an earthly father will only give appropriate gifts to his child, how much more will the heavenly Father give appropriate gifts to you, HIS child! Also, if an earthly father will give good gifts to his child, how much more will the heavenly Father give good gifts to you, HIS child?   Luke even mentions the giving of the Holy Spirit, and the early church couldn’t think of a better gift than the Holy Spirit! He’s the best gift! God is THAT generous.  

God Promises to Answer Our Prayers – ALWAYS!  

Paul tells believers, in one of his letters, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV) … pray continually. Why such a command? Because God ALWAYS answers prayers! ALWAYS! This is a truth emphasized in the Bible. Wow!   Consider, Matthew 21:22 (NIV) If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Or another passage, 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV) This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him. Then in Jesus’ famous teaching in John 15, he promises, John 15:7 (NIV) If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  

This is incredible! Paul even says this about God’s generosity in answering prayers, Ephesians 3:20 (NIV) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine … Have you ever received something in prayer that you may have thought about but didn’t pray for? Of course, you have! Praise God!   And not only will he often give you MORE than you ask, but he will frequently give you BETTER than you ask. For example, three times Paul asked the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh (see 2 Corinthians 12:7); but the Lord said he had something better in mind! What was it? To protect him from becoming prideful in how God was speaking to him and using him!  

Someone once said: “The Lord cares more about the line of your eternity, than the dot of your present.” Think about it: Paul is almost 2000 years into eternity already! Do you think he remembers that thorn in the flesh now? And if he does, isn’t it just a faint memory?  

You will not always get exactly what you pray for, but due to the goodness of God what you receive will be MORE AND BETTER. As has been noted, this is something Paul learned, saying, 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV) For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7)

1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. What should motivate you to pray? What reasons are given in today’s reading?

3. Will God only give you what you ask for? Explain your answer.  

Life Application (James 1:22)

1. Throughout this lesson the power of prayer is noted. Of course, specific prayers are natural for someone in a relationship with a good Father. They also glorify God, in that you’re more likely to praise him when you see specific answers. Therefore, think of something specific that you can pray for. Record this somewhere to help you to remember to pray about it every day.

2. Review John 15:5-6, Romans 12:2, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Peter 5:8, John 10:27, James 1:22, Psalm 1, Colossians 3:2, Psalm 39:4, Matthew 5:16, Matthew 6:9-13.  

Bible Reading

1. Please read Matthew 27:45-66.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 4 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) Boundary Markers for Answered Prayer From what Jesus said about prayer above – e.g. “ask and you will receive” - it might appear that prayer is a “blank check” from God. Unfortunately, some have treated God’s promises this way, and confused and hurt many people! Of course, it’s wrong to believe that a person can be selfish and convince God to respond to all of their requests. Instead, there are three conditions, or boundary markers, for what guarantees an answer to prayer.  

Boundary Marker 1: it must not dishonor God   In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus’ disciples are told to pray, “Father, hallowed be your name.” Surely then, God will not respond to requests that would diminish his glory.  

Boundary Marker 2: it must not threaten his higher kingdom purposes   In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructed his disciples to pray, “your kingdom come.” God is building his kingdom on earth, and this is an awesome thing! Therefore, he won’t answer prayers that conflict with this goal.  

Boundary Marker 3: it must not hurt us, ultimately   Yes, you’ll experience suffering on this earth, but in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught you to pray, “And lead us not into temptation” (these are things that will overwhelm or hurt you). Remember what it said in Luke 11:13, that a good father would not give his child a snake or scorpion? Wouldn’t that be harmful? Well, neither will God let you be exposed to something that would harm you beyond what may be useful for your spiritual growth.  

An Objection   Some may object though, to such boundary markers. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “anything,” specifically, John 14:14 (NIV) You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. He did! But please notice the phrase, “in my name.” Why did he include this? What does it mean?  

First: it means praying in a way that is consistent with Jesus’ character   In the ancient world, the “name” of a person represented every part of them, including their character. In fact, to have a good name was to have a good reputation, or in the words of Proverbs, Proverbs 22:1 (NIV) A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.  

And Jesus has a good name! The psalmist says, Psalm 52:9 (NIV) I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. Obviously then, if there are warnings in the Bible to stay away from behaviors that bring harm to his name, then your prayers must line up accordingly.  

Second: it means praying according to Jesus’ will   John explains this very well, 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV) This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him.  

Third: it means praying and acting with Jesus’s authority   When you pray consistent with Jesus’ character and in line with his will for you, then you’ll have his authorization and the power to carry it out! This can be observed in some of Peter’s ministry, as recorded in the book of Acts, Acts 3:6 (NIV) Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." And the lame man walked!  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7)

1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. What are 3 boundary markers for answers to prayer?

3. What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name? (there are 3 things shared in this lesson) Can you get anything you pray for then? Explain.  

Life Application (James 1:22)

1. Can you think of anything from your past that you prayed for, that contradicts one of the boundary markers shared in today’s reading?

2. Consider something that you have been praying for recently. Does it fit in with the boundary markers that were shared today? Is this request consistent with praying in Jesus’ Name? Ask the Holy Spirit if you need to adjust how you pray for this request.  

Bible Reading

1. Please read Matthew 28:1-10.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 5 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2)

So Then, Why Don’t Disciples Pray More? Here is a powerful and challenging quote, “the greatest tragedy is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.” You’ve seen what Jesus promised about prayer. It’s incredible! However, why do so many struggle to pray? What are some reasons for unoffered prayer?  

First: pride   One obvious form of pride is a religious pride that theoretically acknowledges Jesus and the Bible, but practically lives independently. Such people seldom, if ever, pray. They may attend church, but they don’t really ‘think’ they need God! It may sound harsh, but they’re self-deceived.  

A second form of pride is uncovered when people become angry at God because he delays in answering, or because he answers differently than they ask, or because something tragic happened to them. In their hearts they ‘fold their arms’ in defiance, or react with self-pity. They stop talking to God. They think that they know better than God!  

Such pride is so different from Job’s response after hearing that EVERYTHING he owned had been taken or destroyed, and that ALL seven of his children were killed. Job 1:20-22 (NIV) At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.   May that challenge any pride that you might have.  

Second: laziness or distractions   This usually comes from having too many comforts. Many don’t have any real physical or ‘this-world’ needs, so they become distracted by the things of this world – these are worldly ‘Christians.’ Or a person can become undisciplined, and not rise to greet the risen Jesus in the mornings.  

Third: unbelief   Some simply do not believe God when he says that when one prays, they will receive. And so, they don’t ask. But James says, James 4:2 (NIV) “You do not have because you do not ask God.”  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7)

1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. What are 3 reasons given for why some do not pray very much?

3. What are 2 forms of pride that can stop a person from praying?  

Life Application (James 1:22)

1. Examine your life using the 3 reasons why people don’t pray more. Be honest with yourself. Do any of these exist in your life?

2. Many cultures are very busy! Can you imagine standing before Jesus one day and realizing that you missed building his kingdom through prayer because of distractions?

Jonah 2:8 (NIV) says, “those who cling to worthless idols, forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Ask the Holy Spirit if any of these things are idols in your life – sports, television and/or movies, video games, social media, reading simply to escape, a specific hobby. A hungry heart will confess and turn from any idols.  

Bible Reading

1. Please read Matthew 28:11-20.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 6 Final Steps

1. Review John 15:5-6, Romans 12:2, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Peter 5:8, John 10:27, James 1:22, Psalm 1, Colossians 3:2, Psalm 39:4, Matthew 5:16, Matthew 6:9-13.  


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