Sabbath School Lesson for January 6-12, 2024

Just a reminder for new readers…the Bible verses referenced in these articles are hyperlinks and can be easily accessed by clicking and/or hovering over them.

Overview of Lesson 2, Teach Us to Pray

Memory Text: “Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’ ” Luke 11:1 NKJV

As with the disciples of John, Jesus’ disciples observed the fervent prayer life of their beloved Master, and they desired to pray like He did. It was natural that the disciples of John and Jesus requested specific prayers to guide their conversations with their Father God. After all, they had been reciting prayers from the book of Psalms (poetry that is part of what’s called the Writings) all their lives in the synagogue services and their personal devotions at home.

Only by deeply immersing ourselves in the messages contained in Psalms will we be able to derive the same spiritual uplifting that will carry us through our most trying circumstances. The psalms, with their emphasis on praise and honest sharing and intimacy with the Creator, can not only thoroughly transform our prayer life, but also our character and interaction with God and others.

What to expect from this study…

  • Sunday: Fostering the Use of the Psalms in Prayer–reflecting deeply on the messages of the psalms
  • Monday: Trust in Times of Trouble–Psalm 44, an example of corporate prayers for God’s people
  • Tuesday: A Psalm of Despair–Psalm 22, an example of personal prayers of grief and loneliness
  • Wednesday: From Despair to Hope–Psalm 13, an example of prayers that promote our faith and hope for the future
  • Thursday: Oh, Restore Us Again–Psalm 60, purposeful prayers that make us more aware and compassionate

Sunday: Fostering the Use of Psalms in Prayer

The book of Psalms has much to offer us, but a lot depends on how we use these prayers of praise. There are various ways to approach reading and gaining spiritually from the psalms. We might consider reading all 150 of them from beginning to end. Or we might find it helpful to read them by categories, depending on our current emotional or physical need. Remember there are, for example, psalms of lament, thanksgiving, forgiveness, wisdom, and historical interventions.

After deciding what kind of study appeals to us, we would benefit most by incorporating these steps: reading them slowly and thoroughly, reflecting deeply on them, and then conversing with God naturally from our own hearts as the Spirit guides us. Our decisions on how to use the psalms are dictated to a certain degree by the events happening in our life and by listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice in our hearts.

It is always helpful, as well, to memorize some of our favorite, most meaningful psalms. This appears to be recommended in Psalm 119:11 when it talks about hiding His word in our heart, which makes it easier to recall them when needed.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 105:5 and James 5:13

For what purposes can we use the psalms?

  • Colossians 3:16 and Psalm 119:11

What does it mean to “dwell” in the psalms or to “hide” them in our hearts? How does memorizing them help us do this?

Monday: Trust in Times of Trouble (Psalm 44)

Psalm 44 is a moving, honest prayer for God’s people that begins with praise for God’s protection and conquest over their enemies in the past. His mighty interventions even caused the psalmist to rejoice that his own weapons of bow and sword were not needed to provide such safety (Psalm 44:6). God had graciously taken care of them when they needed Him most.

But the second half of the prayer reveals a much different situation, which describes fierce oppression from enemies that overwhelms them, and makes them question why they are currently suffering so much despite their continued love and loyalty to God.

When we are emotionally distraught over any unexpected adversity, we, too, can prayerfully express our frustrations to God in an open and honest manner. He doesn’t expect us to deny our feelings when things turn sour. On the contrary, it is safe to tell God exactly what we are going through, and even question His presence and concern for our welfare.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 44:6, 7 and Ephesians 6:16, 17

When our faith is strong, why are weapons often not needed for our safety?

  • Psalm 44:18, 19

Why does God permit such negativity in our prayers, even to the point that it sounds like we are accusing God of neglect?

  • Psalm 44:28

After they unloaded all their pent-up frustrations, how did their knowledge of God make it possible for them to request God’s help? How might the prayer itself have made this  possible?

Tuesday: A Psalm of Despair (Psalm 22)

We expect to see prophets of the Old Testament foretelling the life and death of the Messiah. But Messianic prophecies are also seen clearly in many of the psalms.

Psalm 22 is a classic example of this. It alludes to the immense suffering endured by the Son of God at the hand of his enemies. We feel compelled to praise Him for His sacrifice, which enables us to draw from His strength, and somehow forge ahead with our own challenges.

The last recorded words of Jesus (Matthew 27:46), as He was close to death on the cross, came from Psalm 22:1, which says “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” There is no greater despair for mankind than to feel we are forsaken by God. And yet, we know that Jesus was rewarded for His sacrificial death. His resurrection gives us all hope for a full restoration of everything we might lose here on earth.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 22:1 and Matthew 27:46

How important is it for us to gain strength from the psalms, as Jesus did?

How does Psalm 22 help us remember God’s love, and deal with our own despair?

Wednesday: From Despair to Hope (Psalm 13)

In just six short verses, Psalm 13 brings us from desperate pleadings for aid to the high point of rejoicing and praising God for what He had done and would do for them in the future. Although prayer doesn’t always cause such a quick transformation, it can help turn our thoughts around to where they should be. And isn’t that the purpose of prayer? To draw us closer to our Maker so we can deal with our present challenges.

We find in the beginning of the prayer in Psalm 13:1 that God is accused of forgetting the petitioner. Is it possible for God to forget anything? Certainly not, and most likely the psalmist realized that. But it is possible for us to feel that we are forgotten. God understands our feelings, and our need to put them into words.

Likely we have all felt negative about God at some point, based on negative things happening in our lives. But God doesn’t hold that against us. He patiently waits for us to turn our thoughts and lives around, so we are more aligned with His perfect will. This happens by turning our focus away from ourselves, and considering God’s past interventions and promises.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 13:1-4

What kind of feelings and problems was the psalmist facing as he prayed this prayer?

  • Psalm 13:5, 6

Where should we put our trust?

What makes you rejoice when you think about God?

Thursday: Oh, Restore Us Again (Psalm 60)

Psalm 60 is definitely a psalm of lament., a plea for God to save them. This psalm shows us that it’s possible to feel broken down and cast off from God, and yet find strength to rejoice in His provisions and once again take up His banner to be victorious.

Even when we don’t feel distressed about events in our life, worshippers benefit from reading and applying the messages from the psalms. First, they remind us of times when we, too, have had difficulties to surmount. Suffering of one kind or another is part of the human experience that can’t be avoided or ignored.

And secondly, prayers of lament cause us to have more compassion for those who are going through tough times. By immersing ourselves in the strong feelings expressed in these psalms of lament, we find they foster within us a desire to be more like Jesus and minister to those in need. Restoration is possible, as we take up His banner of love (Proverbs 60:4).

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 60:1-5

What kind of feelings are found in these verses?

How can we benefit from reading them, even if we aren’t going through difficulties at the time?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Often having troubles in life is the motivation for the most intense, productive prayer communication we can have with God. By reviewing prayers of this nature in the book of Psalms, we are reminded that when hard times hit, the best place to go is to our knees.

There is so much sorrow on this earth, but many people testify that God has richly blessed them with the strength and fortitude to withstand their pain, when they open their hearts to Him and pray fervently and honestly for intervention.

Whether it’s despair that comes to us personally or corporately as a group of people, spending time with God in prayer can make a big difference in our level of hope. Reading, meditating, memorizing, and reciting the prayers found in Psalms will instill within us the desire to include God during times of extreme lament.

God has seen and heard it all and is intensely concerned for and involved in the outcomes that we cannot see ahead of us. There is simply no better partner to have with us during these trying times than our all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God.

Next Week: The Lord Reigns

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