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Sabbath School Lessons on Holy Spirit
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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 10: The Holy Spirit, the Word and Prayer *
Introduction: Sometimes we have trouble matching the promises of the
Bible with our own experience. For example, in several places the
Bible tells us that if we ask God we will be given what we seek. See,
e.g. Matthew 7:8. In Matthew 18:19 we are promised that if two agree
"about anything" then "it will be done for you by My Father in
Heaven." Have these promises always worked out for you? If not, why
not? Very recently, I read that if I might benefit from my prayer,
that would be a "questionable motive" that would invalidate my
request. No doubt the writer of that statement thought that explains
why some of our prayers are not answered. How can a selfish motive
disqualify my prayers when Jesus tells me that I should pray "Give us
today our daily bread?" Matthew 6:11. Clearly, we need further study
on this topic! Let's dig into our study of the Holy Spirit and
- Holy Spirit and Prayer Intercession
- Read Romans 8:26-27. What does this teach us about our
skill in knowing what to pray? (It says we don't know what
we ought to pray for.)
- A reasonable Christian will likely conclude that if
God doesn't seem to answer his or her prayer, the
fault must be with us in some way. Does this text
seem to confirm that problem?
- How does the Holy Spirit help us with making the
"right" prayers? (He intercedes for us.)
- What comes to mind when we are talking about human
intercessors? (Obviously, I think about lawyers. A
lawyer knows, based on training and experience, how
to put a client's request in the proper terms. We are
told that the Holy Spirit has a way of communicating
that is more effective than words.)
- Why would you call the intercession of the Holy
Spirit "groans?" Why would that be more
effective than words?
- Why would we need the Holy Spirit to make our
prayers better? Doesn't God understand? Isn't
the Holy Spirit God's Spirit?
- Who is the "He" in Romans 8:27 who searches our
hearts? (Read Jeremiah 17:10. I think it refers to
God the Father.)
- Look again at the last part of Romans 8:27. How does the
fact that God knows the mind of the Holy Spirit help with
our prayers? (God knows our hearts and He knows how the
Holy Spirit thinks. This combination helps us to know what
and how to pray. Why? The Holy Spirit triggers those
impulses of ours that create the "right" prayers, and then
transmits them in a way consistent with God's will. This
shows that the problem is not with God's understanding,
but with the nature of our prayers.)
- If we think that God is not answering our prayers,
could the problem be that we are not asking the Holy
Spirit for help?
- Read Ephesians 3:16-17. What both strengthens our "inner
being" and allows Jesus to dwell in our hearts? (The Holy
- Read Ephesians 3:17-19. What does Jesus, living in us
through the Holy Spirit, help us to understand about God's
love? (It helps us to understand the nature of God's
- Read Matthew 7:9-11. What does this tell us about God's
approach to answering our prayers? (Do you give your
children everything they request? Of course not. You know
that giving some things would be harmful. You know that
the timing of your gift is important.)
- Read Matthew 7:12. Is Jesus making random statements of
truth? Or, is this connected to the topic of asking God
for things? (Jesus' statement seems connected in two ways.
First, God's decision on what prayers to answer positively
reflects His love - just like treating others as we would
like to be treated reflects love. Second, our prayers need
to take into account their impact on others.)
- Let's revisit the issue of God answering our prayers. We
learned that God responds to our requests like a loving
parent would respond. We also learned that the Holy Spirit
living in us helps us to understand the contours of God's
love. Considering those two important points, how does the
Holy Spirit help us with answered prayers? (By
understanding God's love, we understand what we should
pray for that is consistent with His love for us.)
- The Holy Spirit and Asking
- Read Matthew 7:7-8. Are there any qualifications on these
promises? (Yes, in the sense that we need to ask, seek and
knock. It means we need to take the initiative.)
- Read Matthew 18:19-20. Why is it important to have two
agree? (If you have to tell someone else what you have it
mind, it might moderate your prayer. If you need to have
the second person agree, that is a limit on unreasonable
- Why does Jesus add that the Holy Spirit will be
present where two or three come together in Jesus'
name? (The direction of the Holy Spirit with regard
to our prayers, as we just discussed, is
- Read 1 John 5:14-15. Is this statement "according to His
will" a condition to answered prayer?
- Notice that in 1 John 5:15 it seems to say something
different, that God hears "whatever we ask." Is
there a conflict in these two verses? First we are
told Jesus only hears when we ask according to His
will, but then we are told that He hears no matter
what we ask? (The consistent way to read this is that
Jesus "hears" requests that are consistent with His
will. Of those requests that are consistent with His
will, He grants them whatever the request may be.)
- Let's be very practical here. I recall fervently and
repeatedly asking that my parents would live to be 85
years of age. That did not happen. My father died at
70 and my mother died at 80. How could requesting
life for my parents be anything but consistent with
God's will? (I don't have the space to give the
details. But, now that I'm looking back on these
events, I believe that God's timing was perfect,
given the fact that we live in a sinful, imperfect
world. Had I known the end from the beginning (as I
do at least in part now), I would have agreed with
God's timing. He gave the most loving answer
considering the interests of all three of us.)
- The Holy Spirit and Faith
- Read Mark 11:22-24. Can you think of anything more useless
than throwing a mountain into the sea? After all of this
discussion about how the Holy Spirit will help us to know
what is best to request from God, why does Jesus use an
example like this?
- What do mountains represent in real life? (They are
obstacles. They are difficult to get around. They are
- What does the "challenge" nature of a mountain tell
us about what Jesus is really saying in this verse?
(No matter how big the problem in your life, it is
subject to removal through your prayers.)
- When Jesus says "does not doubt in his heart but
believes" to what is Jesus referring? (This gets back
to the connection with the Holy Spirit. It is the
Holy Spirit within us that makes these things
- Read Mark 11:25. Is this another condition on getting our
prayers answered? (Jesus makes it a condition of
forgiveness. Jesus says the same thing in Matthew 6:12.
However, Jesus does not explicitly say that it is a
condition of answered prayer.)
- If it is not a condition of answered prayer, why does
Jesus mention it here? (Recall our earlier discussion
about how the Holy Spirit focuses the best impulses
of our mind when we pray with His help. Jesus is
doing the same here, He is focusing our best
- Do you feel that you have answers to why some prayers are
not answered, when at the same time God gives us expansive
promises about prayer? (The texts we have studied suggest
that love is at the bottom of all answers to prayers. God
gives us positive answers when we ask and it is in our
best interest. God also promises His Holy Spirit to give
us that discernment, and to inspire our impulses, to ask
for the very best things.)
- Friend, you need the Holy Spirit! Among other things, you
need the Holy Spirit to guide and bless your prayer life.
Will you continually ask the Holy Spirit to guide your
mind and your prayers?
- Next week: Grieving and Resisting the Holy Spirit.
* Copr. 2017, 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.