A House of Prayer

Yesterday (April 5, 2020), I led an online Bible study focused on a steady life of prayer. Here is a brief message and a summary of that Bible study for you. I hope that some of these prayer outlines and insights will be beneficial for your prayer life …

 

On the Monday of the original Holy Week, Jesus marched into the temple in Jerusalem and began forcefully driving out the businessmen, those who were selling animals for sacrifice, exchanging currencies, selling trinkets …

Why was Jesus so worked up?  As He said to the crowds that Monday, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13).

God Himself descended to this earthly temple  and reminded the festival-goers that it was, first and foremost, to be a house of prayer. With all the activity going on around the temple, its true purpose was, sadly, being overlooked. The very leaders who were meant to set an example for the people, were instead tracking Jesus’ every move and plotting His death. Jesus’ bold actions in the temple courts were meant to distinguish God’s house from the marketplace.

Christian houses of worship in the 21st century are still meant to be houses of prayer, places in which God’s people gather to hear His Word and receive His gifts, and respond to Him through prayer and praise.

But most of us are not gathered in public houses of worship these days. Instead, most of us are temporarily confined to our own homes. However, every Christian’s home is a house of prayer, a place where God dwells with His beloved sons and daughters and children!  On that note, here are some basic prayer outlines for you and your family:

Martin Luther’s simple pattern for prayer (ITCP):

Instruction – After reading a passage of Scripture, reflect back to God what you have heard and read from Him.

Thanksgiving – Thank the Lord for the message of the passage, for what it tells you about Him, about the world, and about ourselves.

Confession – Admit to the Lord that you have not lived according to His will as expressed in this Scripture.

Prayer – Trusting Christ for forgiveness, conclude your prayers based on what You have heard from the Lord in His Word.

ACTS Prayer Acronym:

Adoration – Praise God for His saving love, His character, and more.

Confession – Confess your sins, both in general and specifically, to the Lord.

Thanksgiving – Give thanks to God for His forgiveness and many blessings.

Supplication – Share your specific prayer requests for others and for yourself.

The Five Finger Prayer:

Thumb – Pray for your loved ones

Index Finger – Pray for leaders and helpers around us

Middle Finger – Pray for people in positions of authority and influence

Ring Finger – Pray for the weak, sick, and needy

Pinky – Pray, lastly, for yourself

 

Praying Continually

The idea of praying continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17), can seem daunting. However, here is a Bible study outline to help you understand what that can look like in your life:

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  (“pray without ceasing”) and  1 Timothy 2:1-4  (pray “for all people”).  How can you begin to apply these passages to your prayer life?

Jesus sets a consistent example of prayer through the course of His ministry. Here are four passages in which we see Jesus at prayer in the Gospel of Mark:

Mark 1:35 – Jesus prays in a desolate place

Mark 6:45-58 – Jesus prays after the feeding of the 5,000

Mark 14:32-42 – Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane

Mark 15:33-34 – Jesus prays from the cross (see also Luke 23:46)

What do you learn about Jesus’ prayer life from passages like these?

A few observations: Jesus wants and needs to pray to His Father; He often makes time for prayer (sometimes briefly, sometimes for hours); Jesus is forthright in prayer, even admitted that He’d rather not take the cup of suffering; and Jesus uses the language of Scripture to shape His prayers. Jesus’ words in Mark 15:33 and Luke 23:46 are direct quotes from the Psalms, the Old Testament prayer book. God gives us great language to use in prayer through the inspired words of the Bible!

 

Little Big Prayers

Not all of the prayers we read in Scripture are lengthy or elaborate. Some are very simple. They are little prayers with big significance because they are addressed to the true God who hears and responds to the prayers of His people!

Lord, have mercy … We always approach God in neediness. We pray for His mercy for ourselves and anyone in need (see Mark 10:46-52).

Lord, You know … We take comfort in the fact that the Lord knows our needs even before we speak of them (see Matthew 6:8).

Lord, help me … We need God’s help every hour! A believing yet struggling father once prayed for Jesus’ help with his unbelief (see Mark 9:24).

Lord, forgive me … Though our sins grieve the Lord (see Psalm 51), He is faithful to forgive those who confess their sins to Him (see 1 John 1:9).

Lord, use me … Pray that God will bless others through you and your service (see Ephesians 2:10).

Lord, I entrust this to you  … Be still, and know that God will act on your behalf (see Exodus 14:14 and Psalm 46:10).

Your will be done … A timeless prayer from Jesus’ own lips (see Matthew 26:39-42).

Thank You, Lord … A prayer to offer without ceasing! God continually gives us reasons to thank Him (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Come, Lord Jesus … We pray that Jesus will be with us all the days of this life, and that He will return soon to make all things new (see Revelation 21:5; 22:20).

Are there some “little big prayers” you can pray today?

I pray that God’s Holy Spirit guides you to be active in prayer this Holy Week, during this coronavirus pandemic, and throughout your days.

 

Note:  I took the picture of the flowers today (April 6, 2020) in the landscaping at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Warrens, WI.  They are the first to bloom this spring!

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