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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 10: The Promise of Prayer *
Introduction: How is your prayer life? If you are like me, I've
struggled over the years with exactly how I should pray. These
days, I think that I am in some sense "in tune" with God during much
of the day. It is hard to describe, but it is looking for what God
has in mind as various situations arise. On the other hand, except
for my morning walk on the beach, I don't spend a lot of time in
focused, formal prayer. Clearly, I've got a lot to learn and I'll
bet you do too. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and examine
what Jesus teaches us about prayer!
- The Authorized Prayer?
- Read Luke 11:1. Why do you think this disciple was moved
to ask Jesus for instruction on how to pray? (It was
something about how he saw Jesus praying.)
- Read Luke 11:2 and Matthew 6:9. When Jesus says, "When
you pray," or this "is how you should pray," does He mean
this is how we should say every prayer? (Perhaps, but I'm
doubtful because I am certain God does not want us to say
memorized prayers without thinking. Imagine if your
friends memorized what they would say to you and repeated
it every time they saw you. You would not like that.)
- If Jesus is not saying "use these words," what is He
saying? (At a minimum, Jesus is giving us a pattern
for prayer. If we keep this pattern in mind,
instead of just repeating it mindlessly, I think we
are following Jesus' instruction.)
- The Prayer Pattern
- Let's explore the pattern of prayer that Jesus gives us.
Read again Matthew 6:9. What does calling the God of the
Universe "Father" suggest about prayer? (A normal
father/child relationship is very close. The child knows
that the Father loves and wants to help.)
- What does this suggest about the reasons for us
going to God in prayer? (If you would go to your
father or mother for help, then you should go to God
for help. The idea is that God is there just like a
godly parent would be there for us.)
- What is the first message that we should bring to
God in our prayers? (That we want a Father/child
relationship with our God, but we always remember
that He is holy.)
- Why should we add God's location? (This reaffirms
that God is Lord over all.)
- Read Matthew 6:10. What should we tell God about our
primary hope? (That the Kingdom of Heaven will come soon.
We want to be closer to God.)
- In the meantime, what should we offer to do? (We
will be part of God's will being done (not just
dreamed) here on earth.)
- What does that mean about your life? (You are
praying that your life will reflect God's
Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.)
- Read Matthew 6:11. Notice the order of the prayer
pattern. Praise to God who cares about us. A welcome to
His coming kingdom, and a desire to live now like kingdom
subjects. Next, we talk about our needs. Is that
selfish? (This is such an encouraging verse. Jesus
teaches us to ask for those things we need. This is not
the last subject, it is one of the first subjects. That
teaches us that God cares about our needs and wants to
hear our requests.)
- Read James 4:2 and Luke 11:9. What additional wisdom
do we find about praying for our needs?
- Read Matthew 6:12. When I was a kid, those teaching me
religion would scare me by saying that I had to be good
to have my prayers heard. If that is true, why does Jesus
put confession here, as opposed to being the first thing
in our prayer? (God wants us to confess our sins, but He
wants to hear our praises, our plans and our needs
- How important is it for us not to hold grudges and
hard hearts towards others? (It is essential. God's
forgiveness to us turns on our forgiveness towards
- Why are we held to God's high standard of
conduct? (Read Matthew 6:14-15. God died for
us. He died in a very painful way because of
our sins. Our sins against God are much greater
than any other person's sin against us. For an
illustration of this, read Matthew 18:23-35.)
- Read Matthew 6:13. This is a puzzling verse. The first
text that comes to mind is Matthew 4:1 where it records
that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into temptation. What do
you think it means to ask God not to "lead" us into
temptation? ( James 1:13-14 tells us that God does not
tempt anyone. It is Satan's agents, our own evil desires,
which tempt us. Jesus may mean "keep Satan's agents from
testing us." Read Luke 22:42 for an example.)
- We cannot control Satan or God. What important
practical lesson should we take from this portion of
the Lord's prayer? (We need to avoid temptation. We
foolishly do things or say things that lead us and
others into temptation and sin. This is a reminder
to steer clear of those things which lead us into
- Look again at the last part of Matthew 6:13. Is our
deliverance from evil linked to avoiding temptation?
(Satan wants to hurt us. The whole point of temptation is
to separate us from God and separate us from the good
things in life. We want to avoid temptation so that we
can avoid evil.)
- Why is this prayer about being delivered from evil
last? When you consider your prayers, do you make
- If you make your request to be delivered from
some sort of evil first, is that a mistake? (I
believe the order of Jesus' prayer is
important. Perhaps our highest goal is to live
like citizens of the Kingdom of God even though
we live in the midst of evil on earth.)
- The King James Version ends with a glorious tribute to
God. Because this does not appear in the earliest copies
of this prayer, it was added by some scribe who was
inspired to add his own unauthorized tribute to God.
Every one of us, after reading Jesus' prayer, should feel
the same way - that our Father's Kingdom, power and glory
- Prayer Attitudes
- Read Matthew 6:5. Have you ever seen someone who fits
this description? I recall at one religious school
graduation, the person giving the main prayer mentioned
the oil production statistics of his country! At an
earlier graduation, a parent giving the main prayer
recited the history of his child growing up. Why does
Jesus call these people hypocrites? (Because the prayer
is about praising people, not God.)
- What is the effectiveness of such a prayer? (If you
want to be seen, it is just fine. If you want God to
be involved in your life, it is does not work. Your
reward is simply being seen and heard.)
- We have a praise and prayer request time in our
church. Some people take this time to give a mini-sermon for the rest of us. Are these people like the
- Read Matthew 6:6. What does this tell us about public
prayer? (The most important prayer time is when we are
alone with God.)
- Why do you think this is true? (We are not
influenced by our consideration of those listening
- I hear of husbands and wives who pray together. What
do you think about that?
- Read Matthew 6:7-8. Against what is Jesus warning us? (Do
not mindlessly repeat the Lord's prayer. Do not
mindlessly repeat the prayers that you make every morning
and evening. God wants your brain engaged. Pray like you
are speaking to another person.)
- How should the fact that God already knows our needs
impact our prayers? (Recall how Jesus started
praying. He did not begin with His needs or suggest
that we begin by confessing our sins. Asking God for
stuff, is not the primary point of prayer. A
relationship with God is the primary point of
- People tell me that we need to keep bringing our
requests to God. Jesus says God already knows,
don't babble on. What does this suggest? (Read Luke
18:7-8. We can hardly restrain ourselves from
repeatedly crying out to God. I don't think that is
what Jesus is condemning. Heartfelt, fervent prayers
will result in justice.)
- Friend, we can approach the God of the Universe with the
same boldness as we approach our parents. How can you
miss so great an opportunity?
- Next week: God as Artist.
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.