THE WORD OF GOD AND PRAYER
Once you have made sure that you have been redeemed, your next step to freedom is to begin your discipleship by establishing a relationship with Christ through His Word and prayer. All deep and intimate relationships involve lots of communication between the individuals. Therefore, as you read God’s Word and listen to His truth you are allowing God to speak to you. Likewise, as you spend time praying you are communicating back to the Lord. As you establish these two important habits in your life you will naturally grow in your relationship with the Father and your discipleship in His Kingdom. This intimate relationship with the Lord will allow you to experience His life and power which keeps you free from your addictions.
I. Why Should You Spend Time Studying the Bible?
A. Notice the results God promises in His Word.
1. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:30-32).
2. You will grow because you are being spiritually nourished (1 Peter 2:2).
3. You will be built up and become strong (1 John 2:14) (Acts 20:32).
4. You will be kept from error (Matt. 22:29).
B. This is God's encouragement throughout history.
1. The kings of Israel were told that if they didn't want to turn away from the Lord they were to get a personal copy of God’s Word and read it all the days of their lives (Deut. 17:18-19).
2. Timothy as a young pastor was told to give attention to reading the Scripture in order that he might rightly divide it (1 Tim. 4:13) (2 Tim. 2:15).
3. Why did Jesus ask the question to the religious leaders of His day, "Did you never read the Scriptures?" (Matt. 21:16, 42). It was simply to highlight the most important reason for their failure to lead the nation. They had failed to study and follow God’s truth.
II. A Simple Method of Bible Study.
A. Discipline yourself to a certain time of the day to read. Establishing the habit of a certain time of day helps you to be consistent. Doing so is what it means to discipline yourself to godliness (1 Tim. 4:7).
B. Find a place where you will not be distracted by people or noise. Doing this helps in your concentration and receptiveness to the Word.
C. Begin by reading one chapter at a time. Don't jump from place to place in the Bible, but read from the beginning of a book to the end. Start in the New Testament.
D. After reading one chapter, pick out two verses that you have observed that interest you.
E. Ask yourself, why are these verses important? Did these verses reveal something about the character of God? Did they reveal a responsibility you have? Was there a promise given? Was there a command given that you should obey?
F. Now ask yourself, how can I apply these truths to my life? This requires careful consideration and meditation which allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Consider: What action should you take? Do you need to confess a sin? Do you need to stop doing something? Ask forgiveness? Obey a command? Surrender? Start doing something differently? Specifically, how will you carry out these changes in your actions and attitudes?
G. Now pray and ask God by the power of the Holy Spirit to change you and enable you to be obedient to His Word!
III. Resources for Studying the Bible.
An Exposition of the Whole Bible, by G. Campbell Morgan; published by Revell.
Halley's Bible Handbook, by H.H. Halley; published by Zondervan.
What the Bible Teaches, by R.A. Torrey; published by Revell.
With the Word, by Warren Wiersbe; published by Thomas Nelson.
Your Prayer life
I. Why Do Most People have a Hard Time Praying on a Regular Basis?
A. Prayer requires real faith to speak to an unseen God (Heb. 11:1, 27).
B. Sometimes you don't see an immediate answer to our prayers and you can be forgetful of the ones He does answer (Habakkuk 1:1-4).
C. You can get apathetic and not see your need for prayer (Is. 43:22) (Luke 22:45).
D. You can become independent and begin trusting in yourself or in others (Is. 30:1-2).
E. A lack of discipline (1 Tim. 4:7).
II. What are the Benefits of Regular Prayer Time?
A. Prayer is where you can be filled with the Holy Spirit and the joy of the Lord as you commune with Him (John 16:24) (Luke 11:13).
B. Prayer is where you can get release from anxiety and worry (Phil. 4:6-8).
C. Prayer is a primary way to obtain victory over temptation (Luke 22:46).
D. Prayer builds you up in faith (Jude 20).
E. Prayer is how you fight in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-18) (Mark 3:27).
F. Prayer is how you can be helping others that are struggling in their personal lives (Phil. 1:19) (Rom. 15:30-32) (2 Cor. 1:11).
G. If you pray you will get to see His "great and mighty things" which He promises (Jer. 33:3).
III. What Should I Pray About?
A. Jesus gave to His disciples a simple model for prayer. The most important issues for prayer are covered here. These are the things that you should pray about (Matt. 6:9-13).
1. Acknowledge that God is your Father and ruler in heaven: "Our Father in heaven."
2. Praise to Him for who He is and what He has done for you: "Hallowed be thy name."
3. Acknowledge that your desire is for His kingdom and will to be accomplished in your life: "Your kingdom come, Your will be done."
4. Ask Him for your daily needs for provision: "Give us our daily bread."
5. Ask for personal forgiveness: "Forgive us."
6. Grant forgiveness to others: "As we forgive our debtors"
7. Ask God to keep you from temptation: "Do not lead us into temptation"
8. Acknowledgement that His purpose and will reign supreme: "For Yours is the kingdom and power and glory forever."
B. Paul also gives instruction to Timothy about what to pray about (1 Tim. 2:1-3).
1. Paul tells Timothy to make supplication which means to humbly ask. He is to pray and earnestly ask God for his needs. He is to make intercession which means to ask for favor for another and give thanksgiving.
2. Paul encourages him to also pray for kings or for any that are in authority over him so that he could live a godly and quiet life.
IV. A Simple Method.
A. Discipline yourself to a specific time of day for prayer. This will help you to be consistent.
B. If you have a difficult time concentrating on what you are praying for try these steps.
1. Find a place with the least amount of distraction.
2. Make a list of what or who you are praying for.
3. Pray out loud to keep yourself focused on what you are praying about.
C. So as not to forget your own need for change, make a list of every area you in which you are failing. This helps you to consistently ask God for His help in the areas in which you are struggling (Prov. 28:13) (Ps. 32:5) (Ps. 90:8).
D. So as to not forget what the Lord has done for you, make a list of answered prayers. This will help you to be continually thankful even when things are not going well that day (Ps. 103:1-2).
"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).