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School of Prayer; Eddie and Alice Smith
Topic Started: Dec 26 2011, 10:12 AM (681 Views)
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Lesson One: Prayer is Genuine

One cold morning in the winter of 1990, I (Alice) had an encounter with the Lord in prayer that was new and different to me. As I nestled into my prayer closet with coffee in hand, I sensed the Lord inviting me to lay a world atlas out on the floor. This impression from God settled deep in my spirit, so I quickly obeyed.

This particular day I was alone in the house. The children were in school, Eddie was at the church, and I was able to dedicate my time to the Lord. I was excited to have a full day with Him.

My heart beat faster as I pulled the atlas onto the floor. Kneeling down beside the maps, I first noticed the Soviet Union. Without any expectations of what God was up to, I was shocked as I began to weep loudly for the people in the Soviet Union. I knew the burden had lifted when my spirit felt released and my tears dried up. But just as I thought my prayer time was over, the Lord whispered another nation to my heart. Hours passed as I interceded for peoples around the world. I cried out to God in prayer, as His spiritual partner, for lost souls in nation after nation.

Then an amazing thing happened. It has never happened before or since. As I entered into a very deep burden for Israel, I could audibly hear a voice crying over my right shoulder. Startled, I looked—fully expecting to see the Lord Jesus. No one was there. But the room was filled with the glory of God. I was experiencing a divine visitation that can hardly be described. I will forever remember Jesus' cry for His people Israel. Famous radio commentator Paul Harvey has a daily program called The Rest of the Story. Here is the rest of the story. I had no way of knowing that day in intercession that God was preparing me to take a prayer journey to the Holy Land one year later to pray on site the very same prayers I had prayed from my prayer closet in Houston, Texas.

Praying is life's highest privilege! Why? Because it is prayer that allows us to draw near to the heart of God. In prayer we commune with our awesome heavenly Father. Prayer gives us access to the ear of God, enabling us to fulfill His purposes in the earth! And in prayer, He actually shares His deepest desires and purposes with us.

Let's take a closer look at prayer—exciting, engaging prayer that gets God's attention and cooperates with Him to accomplish His kingdom purposes. We can discover the characteristics of such prayer, and learn to transform our prayer lives into power encounters with our powerful God.

Genuine, sincere prayer gets God's attention.

The parents of four-year-old Johnny overheard this bedtime prayer: "And God bless Mommy and God bless Daddy and God bless my dog. And God, take care of Yourself, 'cuz if something ever happens to You we're all gonna be in a mess." Now, Johnny expressed genuine prayer.

When we talk about prayer in this book, we are not talking about a religious rite. To some, prayer may be little more than a ritual. But for true Christians, prayer is about relating with the living God.

We are not going to teach you how to pray the boring, churchy, starchy prayers you may have heard before. As a matter of fact, unless you are six hundred years old, it's about time you discard the "thees" and "thous" of fifteenth-century Elizabethan English. Let's be done with puny, powerless, whiny prayers that seem to rise no higher than the ceiling. Can we hear an amen?

Question: Take a moment to reflect on your prayer life.

1. How often do you pray? 2. What kinds of things do you pray about? 3. When do you pray?

From now on when you pray, we want you to get real with God. Stop performing. Forget about impressing Him. And certainly forget about impressing others. Don't worry about saying the right words. Prayer should be a normal, sincere, genuine conversation between you and your heavenly Daddy.

See ya next week! Eddie and Alice "America’s prayer coaches" ========================================

Intercessors, like "spiritual defense attorneys," plead the cases of others in prayer before God's throne. Eddie and Alice present their readers fresh insights into effective intercessory prayer as they view it through "another lense." The Advocates: How to Plead the Case of Others in Prayer may be their most unique book yet! For more info, or to order goto: http://tinyurl.com/bgt7f

Enroll in this free 52-Week School of Prayer at www.TeachMeToPray.com It’s based on Eddie and Alice's book, Drawing Closer to God's Heart: A Totally Practical Non-Religious Guide to Prayer. It’s offered with generous permission from Strang Communications, the publisher. For more information or to order the book visit: http://tinyurl.com/hpy4f

Tell your friends about our 52 Week School of Prayer and the bonus! Click Here
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Lesson Two: Prayer is Current and Persistent (Part One)

Prayer is as current as today's newspaper. It is as real as this book you are holding and as fresh as the breath you are now breathing. In fact, we hope this book will help move you toward the place where prayer becomes your breath! Praying about current events can be fun and powerful.

Sometimes the prayer assignments are serious and difficult. In 1997 several of our closest church families gathered to pray about a serial killer who had committed five murders in the city of Houston. On that particular Wednesday night the children and youth joined the adults in fervent intercession for this man to be captured prior to the ten o'clock news.

Later that night as we prepared for bed, suddenly from another room we heard our youngest daughter, Ashlee, squeal with delight. As we rushed to see what had happened, she was jumping up and down in the living room pointing at the television. "They caught him! They caught him!" she shouted. The news reporter explained that at about 8:45 P.M. that evening, the police had received an anonymous tip as to where the killer was hiding. When they arrested the man, they were able to verify immediately that he was the murderer, for in his pocket was the class ring of the man he had murdered the night before.

For current and engaging prayer breakthroughs to occur like this one, we may have to lay aside some of the old habits of prayer we have learned. It's time to risk, stretch and ask God for new and fresh approaches to prayer. Contrary to what you may feel or have been taught, not all of your prayer assignments will require years to complete!

In our formative years, sometimes we heard it taught that to pray twice for the same thing was a sign of unbelief. We were even taught that it was "vain repetitions" (Matt. 6:7, NKJV). But that's not true! Let's all learn to dig deeper into the Scriptures and not believe everything we're taught— or everything we read, for that matter—until we confirm it through the Word of God.

Christ taught us to pray repeatedly and persistently when He said: "Ask [keep on asking] and it will be given to you; seek [keep on seeking] and you will find; knock [keep on knocking] and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." —MATTHEW 7:7–8 ==========================================

WHAT GOD'S WORD TELLS US ABOUT PRAYING

Pray persistently

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.' And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'" —LUKE 18:1–5, NKJV

Pray earnestly

"And being in agony, He [Jesus] prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground." —LUKE 22:44, NKJV

Pray always

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." —EPHESIANS 6:18, NKJV ===========================================

In Matthew 26:44 we read that Jesus "left them [His disciples] and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing." Jesus was not the only person in Scripture who prayed for the same thing three times. The apostle Paul also prayed for the same thing three times: "Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me." —2 Cor. 12:8, NKJV

We must understand that all prayer is war!

Perseverance is a primary requirement for effective prayer. The British intercessor George Muller said, "When once I am persuaded that a thing is right, I go on praying for it till the end comes. I never give up till the answer comes. The great fault of the children of God is that they do not continue in prayer. They do not persevere. If they desire anything for God's glory, they should pray until they get it."

Anything less than persistent prayer is lifeless prayer.

Why is persistence so important? There are at least three reasons persistence in prayer may be necessary.

Persistence in prayer sets the stage for His response.

God often postpones His answer in order to prepare the person or the situation for which we are praying to receive His response. (Read Luke 22:31.32; Acts 2:14, 32.33.)

Charles H. Spurgeon said, "We must be careful not to think that delays in prayer are denials. Unanswered prayers are not blown away by the wind; they are treasured in the King's archives where every prayer is recorded."

(More on persistent prayer next week!)

Eddie and Alice "America’s prayer coaches"
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Section One: The Characteristics of Prayer

Lesson Three: Prayer is Current and Persistent (Part Two)

2. Persistence in prayer gives God time to make adjustments. Persisting in prayer may be necessary because God is reshaping us. Sometimes God delays giving us His answer while He makes adjustments in our lives. Your waiting on the Lord is sometimes necessary because the Lord is waiting on you. (Read 1 Samuel 1:10.11.)

He may be testing your faith, your sincerity and your desire. (Read 2 Chronicles 7:14.15; Isaiah 64:1.2, 7; Hebrews 11:6.)

This was certainly the case with the prophet Elijah, who prayed until it rained. He had to send his servant out seven times to look for a rain cloud before it appeared (1 Kings 18:43).

3. Persistence in prayer removes demonic resistance. Sometimes demonic resistance requires persevering prayer. We call this spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:11.12). It was certainly true for Daniel. (Read Daniel 10.) Daniel prayed and fasted for three weeks. During that time God revealed many things to him about the last days. These revelations were so great that Daniel fell on his face trembling. The angel of God strengthened him, because demonic princes were opposing Daniel's prayers.

Understand that all prayer is war! Many of us give up the fight before winning the battle! The angel told Daniel that although God had heard his prayer the first day, it required twenty-one days of persistent prayer with fasting for God's angel to get through with the answer!

Persistence is continuing or staying with a job until it is done.

In honor of my (Eddie) grandfather Rufus Smith, who drove the last steam engine on the Frisco Railroad before his retirement in the late fifties, I would like to tell the following true story of persistence in prayer.

On the front page of the "Endeavor World" a few years ago was the picture of an engineer about to mount an engine. Beneath the picture was this statement: "George Bemis, of Indianapolis, is here shown about to board his engine for his last run after fifty-three years of service with the Big Four Railroad. In all that time he has not had a single accident.

But the quality of his service may be judged from the fact that he never made a run without first kneeling in the cab of his engine and praying that the Lord might help him to bring the passengers to their journey's end. He was seventy years old when he retired with this unique record.

God's Word speaks:

Elijah said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again." —1 Kings 18:43, NKJV

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." —Ephesians 6:11–12, NKJV

There is simply no substitute for persistent prayer!

1. Question: List a few things for which you have been praying a long time.

2. What one thing will you commit to pray for persistently until the Lord answers or releases you from asking?

Until next week, Eddie and Alice "America’s prayer coaches"
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Section One: The Characteristics of Prayer

Lesson Four: Prayer is Continuous and Specific

Doesn't it just drive you crazy when small children ask over and over again for the same things? It may bother us, but most of the time we honor the pleas of our babies. Your heavenly Father never tires of hearing your ongoing prayers, and He loves to bless His children. Real prayer is continuous, not a hit-or-miss proposition.

Frequency reveals priority. The fact that we eat three times a day proves that eating is very important to us. Prayer was a high priority to Jesus. How do we know? Because He prayed frequently. It is said, "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed" (Luke 5:16, emphasis added).

As gasoline fuels our automobiles, prayer should fuel our lives. The apostle Paul summarized it in two words: "Pray continually" (1 Thess. 5:17)! The King James Version says it this way: "Pray without ceasing." You can and should pray any time, any place. The apostle Paul suggested that we never cease praying. It should be a nonstop, two-way conversation throughout the day. ============================================

PAUL PRAYED—ALWAYS

As you might expect, Paul practiced what he preached! He prayed continually for others as the following verses describe:

"But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord. . ." —2 THESSALONIANS 2:13

"God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times . . ." —ROMANS 1:9–10

"We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." —1 THESSALONIANS 1:2–3 ============================================

Those who "prayed in" Pentecost prayed constantly: "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers" (Acts 1:14).

When Peter was in prison, the church prayed for him without ceasing. "Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him" (Acts 12:5, KJV). If New Testament saints practiced the secret of continual prayer, shouldn't we?

Prayer is Specific

A friend of ours recently went through a difficult illness, which included an extended hospital stay. Rather than simply praying for her healing, she asked the doctors each day exactly what it was that they needed to see happen next.

They would tell her the primary immediate issue, and she and her family and friends spent the day asking God for that one specific thing to happen. She was healed and released more quickly than her doctors ever expected!

Too often our vague generalities in praying hinder our receiving heaven's answers. We seem hesitant to say exactly what we really want. If you desire to see answers to your prayers in a greater measure, learn to pray specifically for what you need.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God... And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." —Phil. 4:6, 19

In many cases our failure to pray specific prayers prevents us from receiving God's blessings.6 For example, someone who is about to be evicted from their apartment because they are behind in their rent may ask for God's blessings instead of asking for $967, which is the actual amount of the past due rent! We receive not, because we ask not!

Question: What do you need God to do in your life or in the life of someone close to you?

Write down one very specific request for which you need to pray, and then pray it now. (If you are doing this Bible study in a group, share your prayer requests with each other.)

Great lesson next week!

Eddie and Alice "America’s prayer coaches"
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Lesson Five: Prayer is Humble

Humility is an important secret to answered prayer. Prayer rising from a prideful heart is vanity. James writes to us, "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble'" (James 4:6).

No one wants to plead a case in heaven's court against God! Yet that is exactly the case of one who prays pridefully. God opposes him! Paul urged Timothy to recognize the peril of becoming prideful and arrogant:

But mark this: "There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them." —2 Tim. 3:1–5

Some people who are filled with pride and arrogance do pray. Their prayers no doubt sound like that of the proud Pharisee in Luke 18.

But there are several kinds of people who don't pray. For example:

Strong people

Strong people don't pray because the very essence of prayer is weakness and dependency. Our generation is so concerned about building our "self-esteem" that we have become like the church in Laodicea. In Revelation 3:17, Jesus said to that church, "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." The Laodiceans were too proud to realize how needy they really were.

Satisfied people

Satisfied people don't pray because prayer is an attempt to see things change. Intercessors, God's praying people, live in a state of holy discontentment. They are seldom satisfied with the status quo. They are visionaries who can see what things ought to be and labor in prayer until they see them come to pass.

Slothful people

Lazy people don't pray because prayer is work. It's much easier for us to turn our head, ignore the responsibility God has given us and hope for the best, than it is to draw aside and appeal a case in heaven's court. For a lazy person, not praying is far easier than praying. Words that are often connected with the work of prayer include struggle, travail, wrestle and watch -- all of which denote effort.

1. Read Galatians 4:19. Why do you think prayer is sometimes compared to childbirth?

2. Read Isaiah 62:6–7. What does the Bible say to those who are God's watchmen?

3. Read Ephesians 6:12–17. How does the apostle Paul describe prayer?

When we pray, God works. But many of us don't have faith to believe. We'd rather believe that when we work, God works. Because we think God puts a premium on our work, rather than on our prayer, we put our emphasis on our work (which we can control and for which we can receive credit) rather than on God's work (which we can't control and for which only He receives glory)!

Hudson Taylor, the noted missionary servant of the historic revival in China, once said, "You can work without praying, but that is a rather bad plan. You will, however, never be able to pray seriously without working."

Along the same line, evangelist Billy Graham said, "First pray . . . then work! That's the order of God. From one end of the Bible to the other, we find the record of people whose prayers have been answered -- people who turned the tide of history by prayer, men who prayed fervently and whom God answered."

The bottom line is this: God is not impressed with our work; He is only impressed with His own work. And He has directly linked His work with our prayer. Yes, God has chosen prayer as a link between Him and man in order to carry out His will and purpose for creation. God literally performs His miraculous work through us in prayer!

Jesus knew this very well. He said, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day" (John 9:4, KJV). Jesus saw His role on earth as doing His Father's work, not His own. He said, "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (John 5:19).

If Jesus could do nothing by Himself, wouldn't the same be true of us? In order for us to do the works of the Father, we must receive His instructions. We will, as Jesus did, receive the Father's instructions in prayer.

Yours in prayer, Eddie and Alice "America’s prayer coaches"
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Lesson Six: Too Busy to Pray?

". . . rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer . . ." -- Romans 12:12, KJV

Too often prayer is our last resort rather than our first response. The apostle Paul challenged the Christians in Rome to be instant in prayer (Rom. 12:12, KJV). The next time you hear the whine of an ambulance's siren or hear the report of a tragedy on the television news or listen to a troubled person pour out his heart to you, ask yourself, "How am I to pray?"

Do you think you are too busy to pray? Even nature needs to pay attention to the needs around it. Some years ago, many hives of bees were brought from a cold climate to the tropical island of Barbados. Right away the bees went to work, gathering honey for the winter, which their instinct taught them to expect. The winter didn't come, however, and the bees became lazy. They stopped gathering honey. They spent their time flying about and stinging people. Those who do not produce anything else usually produce trouble.

Let's not be church whiners, or those who sting with gossip and division. Let's be producers—producers of effective and targeted prayers for the good of humanity and the glory of God.

Let's Think About It (Record your answers for your own reflection. No need to turn them in to us.)

Describe a time when you felt God was directing you to pray about something specific.

How did you respond to His promptings?

We learned the past several weeks about the importance of perseverance in prayer.

Describe a time when you prayed for something for a long time. What happened?

Can you think of a time when you prayed consistently for something, but the answer never came?

Why do you think your prayer was not answered?

We have learned about three kinds of people who do not pray. Describe why these types of people might not see their need for a prayer life.

1. A strong person

2. A satisfied person

3. A slothful person

Jesus said that He did nothing except what He saw the Father doing. How does this apply to your prayer life?

Your Time With God

In these lessons we learned some of the characteristics of prayer. Our method of praying should always be genuine, current and persistent. Remember what George Müller said. When he was persuaded that something was the will of God, he would never give up praying for it until the answer came.

Your loving heavenly Father is ready to hear and answer your prayers. Take time today to share your deepest burdens with the Lord. Pour out your heart freely as you express your desire for a closer and more intimate walk with Him. Ask God to teach you how to pray.

Why don't you read aloud this prayer to the Lord?

"Lord Jesus, I am so happy to know You as my Lord and Savior. I long to know You better. Forgive me if I've felt intimidated in Your presence.

I want to be like the men and women of old who believed You for great things and saw them happen. I desire to pray current, genuine and persistent prayers. I want to live a clean life so You can use me.

Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and empower me to pray the kinds of prayers that matter to the kingdom of God. Give me strength to resist believing that You don't care about my needs or burdens, because I know You do care. You love me unconditionally, and I happily receive Your love, grace and encouragement to keep on keeping on.

I surrender to Your will for my life today, Lord.

In Jesus' name, amen."

Next week we'll begin to look at the prayer ministry called "Intercession."

Eddie and Alice "America’s prayer coaches"
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