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LESSON 1: THE FOUNDATION OF PRAYER, SONSHIP
This study is designed to help you to base your understanding and practice of prayer on Scripture rather than on the way you have learned to pray from listening to other people. This is a dangerous and futile way to pray because it perpetuates the errors of others and takes us farther away from the truth of the Scriptures.
This is my attempt to help you get back to the Bible as the source of your prayer lives. It is my passion and my prayer that this not be just an academic exercise but a life changing experience if you are serious about being a disciple of Jesus.
These are not prescriptions or a formula for successful prayer. They are Biblical guidelines to help you understand what prayer is so that you can engage meaningfully with God as your Father, not to get what you want but to work with Him in His purpose for you and for His kingdom.
Although all religions claim to engage their god in pray, prayer is actually the exclusive right of believers through faith in the one true God and who approach the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Other religions use various methods to “pray” to:
1. Get their god’s attention;
2. Gain his favour;
3. Avoid his anger;
4. Get what they want.
Prayer is not based on relationship but on fear and lies because gods do not exist except in the minds of those who believe in them. Gods are a deception of the devil and are the impersonation of demons to gain control of people through fear.
“Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything. No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God...” 1 Corinthians 10:18-20a (NIV).
Likewise, distortions of Christianity (sects and heresies) control and hold people through superstition and fear.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18.
Question: Do gods exist? Where do they originate?
Gods do not exist. They are the product of human imagination inspired by the devil to draw attention away from the living God and to receive worship in the name of the false god.
1. PRAYER IS A FAMILY EXPERIENCE
True prayer can only take place within the context of a Father / son relationship. Jesus’ relationship with the Father is the model of Biblical prayer.
Question: Does God answer the prayers of unbelievers? On what basis?
Every person on earth is potentially a son or daughter of God (Acts 17:28) and has been forgiven (Luke 23:24; 2 Cor 5:19) Those who receive Him are given the right to become children of God.God responds to unbelievers through His mercy. He does not have to answer their prayers but He does in order to show them His glory.
God relates and responds to us as a Father.
He knows our needs. There is no need to explain or advise. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:6-8 (NIV).
God responds to us as the perfect Father.
Because of His wisdom, God will alway do and give the best to His children. “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 good gifts to those who ask Him.” Matthew 7:11 (NIV).
We can approach God with confidence as His children. Because Jesus had reconciled us to the Father: “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” 2 Corinthians 5:19a (NIV).
Because He has given us the right to be His children: “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God...” John 1:12 (NIV).
Because He has given us the Spirit of sonship, not the spirit of fear: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself testifies that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:15,16 (NIV).
Because He deals with us as sons: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ... Dear friends, now we are the children of God...” 1 John 3:1a. 2a.
Question: If we are children of God, why does He not answer all of our prayers?
He is a wise and loving Father. He answers us in accordance with His nature and His will.
God treats us on the same level as He treats Jesus
Jesus gave us power-of-attorney to use His name: “In that day you will ask in my name; I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved me, and have believed that I came from God.” John 16:26-27 (NIV).
Jesus is our elder brother: “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Hebrews 2:11 (NIV).
We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His suffering in order that we may also share in His glory.” Romans 8:17 (NIV).
Question: If Jesus is perfect and we are imperfect, how can God treat us the same?
God treats us out of who He is, not out of who we are. He sees us as already perfected in Christ and does what He does to move us towards who we already are.
2. OUR ROLE AS SONS OF GOD
Sonship carries both privileges and responsibilities.
We cannot enjoy the privileges of sonship and ignore the responsibilities that go with it. As children of God we are to be partners in our Father’s business:
“For we are God’s fellow workers...” 1 Corinthians 3:9a (NIV).
“But seek fist His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV).
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV).
Question: What is God’s business?
The business of the Son and us as sons of God is His kingdom. It is our role as followers of Jesus is to continue on earth what He began. He came to bring God’s rule into the chaos of what man has done through his rebellion and disobedience.
Characteristics of a mature son.
Jesus is the model of mature sonship: “During the days of His life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Although He was a son, he learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him,” Hebrews 5:7,8 (NIV).
The Holy Spirit plays an active part in this “family” enterprise: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that cannot be expressed. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26,27 (NIV).
The business of the Son and us as sons of God is His kingdom.
Question: What are the most important qualities of a mature son?
Submission and obedience to the Father.
Jesus perfectly modelled both – see Hebrews 5:7-8; Psalm 40:6-8; Hebrews 10:5 7.
1. True prayer can only be experienced on the basis of true sonship.
2. Everything God does in us and for us is based on our relationship with Him as His children.
3. Part of our prayer experience is nurturing our Father / son / daughter relationship in order to grow our confidence in God as our Father.
4. Prayer is engaging with each person in the Trinity. We come to the Father through the Son with the help of the Holy Spirit.
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