Family Bible Study lesson for February 8: Disciplined Prayer : Friday, Jan. 23, 2004
January 23 2004 by Claude Frazier

Family Bible Study lesson for February 8: Disciplined Prayer : Friday, Jan. 23, 2004
Friday, Jan. 23, 2004

Family Bible Study lesson for February 8: Disciplined Prayer

By Claude Frazier
Focal Passages: Ezra 8:21-23; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; James 5:13-18

Key Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Exercise Humility

Ezra 8:21-23

Our text finds Ezra seeking to prepare a group of exiled Israelites for their return home. Near the Ahava river (possibly a canal), Ezra proclaimed a fast, encouraging the people to humble themselves and pray. He was attending to spiritual preparations first before moving on to physical concerns. Ezra and the Israelites were seeking from God a safe journey and protection for themselves and for their possessions.

Ezra said he was ashamed to ask for help from King Artaxerxes, because he had previously declared to the king that God would care for them through His power and might. They prayed fervently and effectively that the hand of God would be against all who forsook Him as they sought God concerning their safety. God listened to their prayers and entreaties.

Develop Consistency

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; James 5:13-14

Although people cannot spend all their time praying, they can have a prayerful attitude at all times. This prayerful attitude does not take the place of prayer but can be an outgrowth of prayer. There should be a disciplined daily prayer time. Be diligent and know that the forces of Satan will work to stop it.

Daniel knew this, and even under the threat of death, he maintained his three regular prayer times each day. When he was thrown in the den of lions for this practice, God kept him safe.

Effective prayer and righteousness are related. To live a righteous life one must read from God's words and let them speak to the heart, offering prayers with earnestness and sincerity.

James says that a person who suffers should not say he is being tempted of God. Instead, he should pray in faith so his prayers will reach the ears of the Lord. James empowers the sick by telling them to call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him.

The oil used to anoint the sick person is representative of the Holy Spirit. The prayer of faith reaches across pain and loneliness and can bring healing to the person. If he has committed sin, it will be forgiven. The parallel shows a connection between healing and forgiveness. There is no gap between physical and spiritual healing.

Focus on Faith

James 5:15-18

Prayers for the sick do not always result in healing, but the lack of physical healing does not mean there was necessarily a lack of faith. All prayers are subject to God's will; our prayers are a part of the healing process.

James insisted that the effectual prayer of a righteous man avails much, calling to mind Elijah, a righteous man who prayed with power. Elijah stood alone as 450 prophets of Baal gathered around. He asked them how long they would be halted between two opinions about whether the Lord is God. He told them to prepare a meat offering and see if their gods could make fire come down from heaven and consume it. They prayed from morning until noon and got no response.

Elijah ridiculed them by suggesting that their god might be taking a nap, or away on a trip. He commanded that a trench be dug around the altar. Water was poured over the offering three times, until the wood was soaked and the trench overflowed. When Elijah prayed, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, stones and dust, licking the water from the trenches.

Powerful prayers are made with intensity and passion. When Hannah wanted a child, she prayed under such stress that the priest assumed she was drunk. Elijah prayed with fervent earnestness and faith. Jesus' prayer of resignation, "Father, forgiven them for they know not what they do" speaks volumes about the power of prayer.

Disciplined prayer reemphasizes that prayer is talking and listening to God. For prayer to become an integral part of one's life, discipline is required in a young believer. Communion with God then becomes as vital to a committed believer as breathing.

1/23/2004 12:00:00 AM by Claude Frazier | with 0 comments

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