Sabbath School Lesson 10 for March 4-10, 2017

Although we’ve studied many aspects of the Holy Spirit’s work, there’s one area that is crucial if we are to maintain our connection with God through the Holy Spirit. In order to make it personal and lasting, we must embark on a daily program of devotional time that includes Bible study and prayer.

Without it, our success as Christians will be hindered at best, but it could also be sharply endangered. Not only is our personal relationship with God dependent on our time spent in the Word and in prayer, but our witnessing and service to others is greatly affected as well.

Many of us have felt deficient in our devotional life at one time or another, and indeed most of us wish for a more active prayer life than we have. But, never fear. God also shares a desire for more personal time with you. So, whatever you can arrange is surely looked on with favor by our Best Friend and Advocate, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, is ever ready to enter your private devotions and provide you with more spiritual blessings than you ever thought possible.

Memory Verse: “The Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26, 27 NKJV

This verse truly gives us confidence that the inadequacies we may feel about our prayer life are in a way to be expected. God knows our human weaknesses, but He also knows our desire to please Him and to do the right thing in this sin-hardened world.

When we can in any way verbalize our petitions and praise in the form of a prayer, we can rest assured that the Holy Spirit polishes our words and presents them to the throne of God in a manner that best expresses our intentions and desires.

Sunday: Prayer That Is Pleasing to God

Even though the Holy Spirit acts as a filter for our prayers, making Him rather like a prayer editor, we should be willing to learn all we can about what kind of prayer pleases God. What is He looking for in a well-crafted prayer from His sons and daughters?

First of all, our motives and the condition of our heart are key in communicating with our Father God. Plus, most of the time our prayers consist of a laundry list of requests, causing them to sound more centered on our life and desires than on God’s almighty power and glory.

Prayers must keep God in sharp focus, keeping Him and His will foremost in mind. If our desire is to glorify God, then we should make our requests as open-ended as possible. We can verbalize our desires, but not dictate the outcomes.

Only God knows what is best in each situation. Not just what is best for us, but for others, and ultimately for God’s heavenly kingdom. We are good at guessing the ending of the story, but only God has the inside information on the future that is essential for a truly happy ending.

Discussion Questions: Read John 15:7, 8. What two conditions should define our requests to God? Is knowing Jesus enough? How do our prayers change us, and how does this glorify God?

Read Luke 11:1-4. Why do you suppose the disciples were interested in Jesus’ prayers?

Why is Bible study just as important as prayer? What happens when we study the Bible without prayer, and what happens when we pray without consulting the Word?

Monday: The Foundation of Biblical Prayer: Ask God

Before God can answer our prayers, we must ask them. This seems pretty straightforward. But perhaps you have questioned why the asking part is really necessary. Doesn’t our omniscient God already know our needs and even the desires of our hearts already?

What makes prayer such a powerful communication tool with God? The disciples must have pondered this question as well. They witnessed Jesus, the One they believed to be the Messiah, setting forth on a regular basis to pray alone to His Father, and also praying publicly on several occasions. He even asked for a blessing on the food that day when He multiplied the loaves and fishes.

If prayer was that important to Jesus, perhaps we too had better adopt a praying lifestyle, knowing that its purpose is not to bring God down to us, but to bring us up to God. If Jesus felt the need for this communication, then certainly we faulty human beings need it in our sin-laden world today.

Here’s a simple groundwork for our prayers…

  1. we need to believe in God’s ability to answer them
  2. we need to accept whatever God’s will is
  3. we need to also make sure our sins have been forgiven

When these principles are followed, we may ask away. God is more than willing to hear our petitions and fulfill our wants and wishes in a way that is best for all.

Discussion Questions: Read Matthew 7:7, 8. Why does God invite us to ask, even though He already knows our needs?

Read Mark 11:24 and 1 John 5:14, 15. Which is it harder to believe: that God will answer our prayer or that He HAS answered it according to His will? Why is belief necessary for both?

Read Psalm 66:18 and Isaiah 59:1, 2. Why is it important to ask forgiveness before we ask for anything from God?

Tuesday: The Foundation of Biblical Prayer: Believe

James 5:15 says that “the prayer of faith will save the sick.” Yes, faith is the necessary entity that fuels the effectiveness of all our prayers. Call it faith, belief, or trust…without it, our prayers will be lacking the one ingredient that makes it possible for us to reach up to God.

God’s hand may not be shortened in this reach as much as ours will. Without wholehearted trust in God, we won’t be nearly as blessed as we could have been with the simple, childlike faith that God has requested from us.

Hebrews goes further in saying that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Not only is faith critical to our being blessed, but it is critical from God’s end as well.  We can’t be satisfied with our prayers, if God isn’t satisfied or pleased with our faith.

Discussion Questions: Read Mark 11:24 and Hebrews 11:1, 6, 11, 18. What must we believe in and why?

Read James 1:6-8 and Ephesians 4:14. What two ways are we capable of being tossed to and fro by the wind? How are these ways related?

Read Luke 1:37, Hebrews 6:18, and 13:8. What are some good reasons we can have faith in God?

Wednesday: The Foundation of Biblical Prayer: Claim God’s Promises

Now comes an aspect of prayer life that is seldom taken seriously. Besides asking and believing, there is something else. Consider this verse:

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him [believing part],  that if we ask anything according to His will [asking part], He hears us [claiming part]  And if we know that He hears us [believing part], whatever we ask [asking part], we know that we have the petitions that we asked of Him. [claiming part]” 1 John 5:14, 15 NKJV

So here is an invitation to claim God’s promises, to know that He hears us, which establishes our faith in His Word. By claiming these promises, we allow God to communicate to us. It assures that the conversation will be mutual. We talk to God in prayer, and He speaks to us through the Bible.

One minister, Glenn Coon, has labeled these the ABCs of prayer. We must Ask, Believe, and Claim, in order to have a complete, fulfilling prayer life.

Some examples of promises we might claim are:

“I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Joshua 1:5 KJV

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 KJV

“Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5 KJV

God does not communicate with us any clearer than He already has in His Word. What better way to get to know Him than to make a studied effort to know and remember His many promises throughout the Bible. We must claim them as our own when needed, if they are to be an effectual part of our communication with God.

Discussion Questions: Read 1 John 5:14, 15. How can we know God has answered our prayer, and can He do this even while we are praying?

Read Luke 8:11 and 17:6. How are the Word and our faith related, since they are both compared to a seed?

Read Psalm 50:15. Can we wait till the last minute to pray about our sorrow and troubles? What are some of your favorite promise verses?

Thursday: Praying for the Holy Spirit

It would seem that the safest thing we could pray for would be the Holy Spirit. It should be an essential request we make of God every day. Having the Holy Spirit guide us, mold us, and comfort us is certainly an acceptable thing to ask of God.

But there are some parameters that we must consider when praying for a fuller presence of the Holy Spirit.

  1. We need to understand our fallen, sinful state and how much we need God (i.e. be humble).
  2. We must prepare ourselves by confessing our sins and making a full heart surrender to God.
  3. We should recognize the purpose of the Holy Spirit as elevating Jesus by reproducing His character in us, and enabling us to serve others and help build the church family.

Praying for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we have been told is acceptable, should never be an end in itself, however. These gifts are given to glorify God, and never to be an end in themselves. They should never be used to elevate the Holy Spirit above God the Father or God the Son. And we should never feel they give us a superior position in God’s kingdom or here on this earth.

Therefore, let’s use caution in praying for God’s Spirit. It’s easy to become so enamored with the process, and/or the end product, that we lose sight of the purpose His Spirit is meant to accomplish for us, but most of all, for God and the spread of the gospel. The Holy Spirit has no desire to upstage God, or to cause us to feel less humble. If this occurs, we may need to question the source of the gift and/or our own use of it.

Discussion Questions: Read Ephesians 3:16. What does the Holy Spirit do for us?

Read Ephesians 5:17, 18. What is the sword of the Spirit, and how do we pray in the Spirit?

Read Acts 2:38. How does Peter recommend getting the gift of the Holy Spirit?


Prayer doesn’t bring God down to us, but brings us up to God. This form of communication, coupled with Bible reading and study, is the main way the Holy Spirit pours out His blessings to us. It establishes a relationship with God that fortifies us against our enemy Satan.

The foundation of Biblical prayer, as seen in our lesson this week, encompasses…

  1. our need to ask anything, according to His will (Monday’s lesson)
  2. our need to believe that God has the power and desire to answer our prayers as He sees fit (Tuesday’s lesson)
  3. our need to claim the promises He has already provided us in His Word (Wednesday’s lesson)

Further, it’s important to be humble and surrendered to God as we pray. It’s alright to express our desires, but not to dictate outcomes. He will answer in the way that best glorifies Him, which in turn will benefit us in the long run. Only He knows the future, and what answer is best for all.

Parting Words

Increasing the quality of our prayer life may include spending more time in prayer, but it could also involve a closer look at God’s promises in the Bible. Memorizing our favorite verses, which places them deeper in our heart, is an excellent way to ensure two-way communication with God. He speaks to us through His Word, and we must avail ourselves of that opportunity as much as possible.

Another way to increase the quality of our prayers is to…

  • make sure they include praise to God,
  • confession of our sins and surrender to His will, and
  • thankfulness for all God does for us already.
  • Then we can justifiably pray for our heart’s desires, and know that the Holy Spirit will mediate our requests before God’s throne.

Next Week: Grieving and Resisting the Spirit

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