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Sabbath School Lessons on Discipleship
About the Author
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 41 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 3: Discipleship and Prayer *
Introduction: How is your prayer life? If you are like me, your
answer is "inadequate and needs improvement." When I walk in the
morning, I try to pray and look for God's leading in writing this
lesson. However, my mind is like a squirrel constantly trying to dart
off onto other matters. If you think your prayer life could use
improvement, let's race into our Bible study to see how we can
improve our conversations with God!
- Prayer Preparation
- Read Matthew 6:5 and Matthew 6:1. Who is speaking here?
- What principle of life is He telling us? (Work done
for personal glory is not rewarded by God.)
- What kind of reward is being discussed here? (This
cannot be salvation, for then our works would earn
salvation. It must be some personal reward given by
God here or in heaven.)
- In recent years I became friends with a great
theologian who is incredibly humble. My motives are
mixed whenever I preach and teach. Part of my motive
to do my best is to have others think I'm very good,
and part of my motive is to help people better
understand the Bible. I asked this humble saint about
this and he said he also had mixed motives. If this
is true for you, what does this text mean? (Either
you try to reward yourself or you have God's reward.
Which would you prefer?)
- What prayer principle do we learn here? (Prayer
should not be about personal glory. It should not be
about "tooting our own horn.")
- Read Matthew 6:6. Why is closet prayer the best? (It
avoids the problem of praying to be heard by others - and
God rewards us.)
- Does this problem extend to other aspects of church
service - that people are involved to be seen? (I've
noticed that people who are making a prayer request
in church, want to preach. People who have special
music, want to preach. No matter what specific part
of the church service, some want to turn it into a
mini-sermon. Why is this? I suspect it has to do with
- Read Matthew 6:7-8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. On one
hand we are told not to be babbling, and on the other hand
we are told to "pray continually." How do you reconcile
these two ideas? (Right now I have a top prayer priority
for a close relative. It is hard for me to avoid
"babbling" (just repeating my prayer). One thing I've
learned over the years is an attitude of prayer. To have
one part of your mind in contact with God for His
- Have you thought about prayer being like someone
talking to you? Would you appreciate the other person
repeating the same thing continually, like they had
Alzheimer's? (No! I'm sure God does not appreciate it
- If repetition is out, how do we let God know that
something is really important to us? (We can just say
that. At the same time, I think God understands when
we want to repeatedly talk about something that is
very important to us. However, we should not
mindlessly repeat the same words.)
- Let's look again at Matthew 6:8. If God already knows my
needs (and I certainly believe this), then why do I need
to pray at all? (This helps unlock the solution to the
problems in our prior discussion. If prayer is not to
alert God to things He already knows, then prayer must
mostly be for our benefit. Babbling would not encourage
us, but sharing our deepest concerns with God would
- Model Prayer
- Read Matthew 6:9. What, exactly, do you think Jesus means
when He says this "is how you should pray?" Should we
repeat this specific prayer?
- If we just recited this prayer, would we be
- If you were teaching someone to pray, how would you
do it? (We provide examples of things to help people
learn. In my own prayer life, I consider each part of
the Lord's Prayer to be an example to teach us both
the order and the topic of our prayers. Let's explore
this next in more detail.)
- Read Matthew 6:9 again. How should our prayers start? (The
first thing is praise. I think every prayer should start
with praise to God.)
- Why? Does God need compliments to grant our
requests? (It turns our mind to the fact that our
first priority in life is to give glory to God. It
reminds us of the greatness of our God - who is also
our Father! What a thought!)
- Read Matthew 6:10. What topic comes next in our prayers?
(When Jesus comes again, God's goal will be reached and
sin, death and sickness will be gone. We want God's will
to be done in our life and in our world right now. This is
where we can talk to God about our goals and our problems
- Read Matthew 6:11. What does God encourage us to pray
about here? (Our needs! Give us what we need, Lord. It is
great to pray for others, but God also encourages us to
pray for our self.)
- Read Matthew 6:12. In your typical prayer, what topic do
you discuss first? (My normal instinct is to pray for the
forgiveness of my sins. Somehow I think that should be
the first order of business before I get into anything
- Why do you think forgiveness of sins should come
after praise, problems and needs? (Asking for
forgiveness does not reflect God's first priority for
our prayer life.)
- Notice the qualifier on forgiveness. On what does the
forgiveness of our sins rest? (Read Matthew 6:14-15:
- Do you have someone you have not forgiven? If
so, what do Jesus' words suggest? (That God
will not forgive your sins. This is a serious
- Do you have a forgiving attitude in general
toward those who fail to meet your standards?
- Read Matthew 6:13 and James 1:13-15. Jesus asks God not to
lead us into temptation, but James says that is
impossible. Should we just cross out this part of the
prayer because we don't have to worry about God tempting
- Read Matthew 4:1. Here, Jesus is being led by the
Holy Spirit into temptation. Is James just confused?
- Let's read a couple of other texts that might help us.
First, read Matthew 26:38-39. What is Jesus requesting
here? (Jesus is moving into a time of terrible temptation.
He naturally wants to avoid this. He prays that God will
remove the temptation.)
- Second, read Job 1:9-12. What is God's role in the
temptations that follow in Job's life? (God permitted
- Can you see common ground between James 1:13 and these
other texts, especially Matthew 4:1? (In none of these
texts do we see God tempting anyone. It is always Satan
who does the tempting. I've long thought that in Matthew
4:1 the Holy Spirit led Jesus to Satan before Satan was
fully prepared. That first temptation does not seem to be
the result of the kind of preparation that we saw in the
Garden of Eden. Thus, temptation will come to all of us,
and I think Jesus is asking that the temptation not be
allowed to come to us when we are less able to handle it.
Of course, what James says about temptation and our
thought process should ring true to all of us.)
- Let's look at the last part of Matthew 6:13. How does this
fit into the discussion we just had about God controlling
when we are tempted? (Jesus asks for victory over sin and
- What topic does this suggest for our prayers? (We
should pray about our sin problem. We should ask for
God's help live holy lives.)
- In what other ways can we be delivered from Satan?
(This is the place where I pray about my family,
myself and the needs of others to be delivered from
- The New International Version of the Bible (the one we use
here) does not contain the language "for yours is the
kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." That
is because none of the ancient manuscripts contain this
language. It seems someone copying the Bible got carried
away and added it. However, I like it so I end my prayers
just like I started them -- with praise to God.
- Friend, will you set aside some quiet time with the Lord's
Prayer (the prayer in Matthew 6) and use it as an example
for your prayer to God?
- Next week: Discipling Children.
* Copr. 2014, 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.