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Chapter 19: Understanding How God Works

Luke 11:1—”…one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord teach us to pray'” (NET Bible).

Main Idea

Thrasher comes to us with the idea that one of God’s ways of accomplishing His work is to place a prayer burden on someone’s’ heart. If that person is sensitive to the prayer burden, she can pray in response, and the work of God is set in motion. As A.B Simpson wrote, “There is no wonder more supernatural and divine in the life of a believer than the mystery and the ministry of prayer…the hand of the child touching the arm of the Father and moving the wheel of the universe.”

My Story

What an awesome thought—that we have the ability to work with and alongside God in accomplishing His work and His will in others’ lives. I do not think any of us fully understand or comprehend the power that is at hand when we come humbly before God to help in His work through prayer.

When I was going through my treatments for breast cancer, my husband and I were consistently amazed at daily situations that in our own strength were difficult, but easier, less stressful and not as overwhelming as they could have been. We attribute that to the power of prayer from many others who were praying on our behalf.

Thrasher tells us some points that are pertinent to God’s working in one’s own life or in the lives of others. First,  prayer is to be of first importance, not just for ourselves but also in the church as it gathers together. We need to be drawn into His presence as He impresses on us that for which we should pray. Secondly, we see that what God impresses on us is prayer burdens for others. What we do not realize is the magnitude of the power of God through prayer. Andrew Murray said so well, and it should give us much to think on, that “we understand then that our true aim must not be to work much and have prayer enough to keep the work right, but, to pray much (emphasis my own) and then work enough for the power and blessing obtained in prayer to find its way through us to men.” Thrasher finishes by encouraging us once again that the fruitfulness of God’s ways comes through us realizing that God “desires you and me to commit to Him the prayer burdens that He entrusts to us.” This is an amazing concept that God would entrust us with prayer burdens to accomplish His work in the world. “Prayer strikes the winning blow” says S.D Gordon. When one fully comprehends this truth, it should sober us to be more diligent in acting upon the prayer burdens with which God impresses us.

Discussion

We need to ask ourselves—what prayer burdens has God put on my heart? We need to realize that others are blessed beyond measure by our desire to pray for them. But it will be a battle. Corrie ten Boom said, “The devil smiles when we make plans. He laughs when we get busy. But he trembles when we pray, especially when we pray together.” Richard Foster encourages us in saying “that just because you do not think that your prayer life is important does not mean that God thinks it is not important.”

Therefore, Thrasher encourages us to be wise in asking God to “teach us to pray.” As we do this we can trust that God will work and lay on us the prayer burdens for which we need to be praying. This will accomplish His work in the world as we are faithful to Him. There is nothing more important! We need to lay hold of this incredible opportunity: that we “can cooperate with God and lift the spirit of an individual, half a world away” from ourselves.

So I ask you—what prayer burdens is God putting on your heart? You need to ask yourself—am I sensitive enough to “hear” God’s spirit and to be praying for what He asks me to pray for? Do I follow through with actually praying and continuing to pray (I Thess. 5:17) for those He has placed before me? Be aware this week as He brings prayer burdens to you and “just do it!.” This helps us begin to understand how God works in other’s lives and in our own.

Let us know your thoughts. And don’t forget to journal!

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Posted by on March 3, 2013 in Book Study, Prayer

 

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Chapter 13: Learning How to Pray for Christlike Growth

Luke 2:40 “And the Child continued to grow and became strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”

Main Idea

So, far we have seen how our weaknesses, the power of the Holy Spirit and the companionship of others can help us in our prayers. In this next section, the author discusses the help of the word of God.

The Scriptures help us to grow in our faith, expanding our capacity to pray and providing powerful motivation. When we read the word of God we can also learn from the example of others.

Thrasher calls upon our Supreme example given in the above passage. Here we see that Luke describes the young Jesus as becoming strong, increasing in wisdom and the grace of God. It is also probable that this passage can be better understood by comparing it Luke 2:52 which describes Jesus as growing in wisdom and stature in favor with God and man.

Jesus grew in strength and was physically strong most likely because of His profession as a “tekton” which is often translated “carpenter” but could also mean a stone-cutter or mason. Thrasher makes a case for Him growing in strong in spirit which is no doubt also true. I found it particularly interesting to ponder what it means to be “strengthened in our spirit or in the inner man” as it states in Ephesians 3:16. Though there is much more here than meets the eye and much more than I can attempt to explain or understand. There does seem to be a sense in which the believer can be strengthened in his spirit through the exercise of faith as the body can be strong through physical exercise.

The young Jesus also increased in wisdom which carries the idea of skillful living and discernment that is rooted in seeing life from God’s perspective.

Lastly, “the grace of God was upon Him.” We see from other passages of Scripture that it is possible to get “more” grace.

Peter says that we can “grow” in grace. (2 Peter 3:18) The writer of Hebrews says that God gives grace in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) Paul writes that gave him grace in his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and James says that God has a “greater grace” that He gives to the humble. (James 5:6)

There is a grace that leads to salvation, but that is a mere introduction to the grace in which we stand. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 5:1-2) Like Paul in his exhortation to Timothy, Thrasher encourages us to grow and be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1)

My Story

At this point, I am pondering the meaning of what I just wrote. Sometimes, I find it easier to be content with where I am at and not push for the “greater grace.” This reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis that states “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and lust and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to keep making mud-pies in the slums…because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the beach.”

Discussion

1. Have you already experienced the grace that God offers that brings you into a right relationship with HIm? If so, are you ready to take the next step and “grow” in the grace that He offers?

2. If not, what’s hindering you? Ask God to search your heart and help you to be willing to take that next step whatever that might be.

“Dear Lord, I ask you to give me a whole-heart. Don’t let me be content with making mud-pies when there is infinite joy waiting for me.”

 
 

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Chapter 9: Receiving Help in Prayer from Others

I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you.” (NET Bible)

Galatians 6:2 “Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (NET Bible)

Main Idea

In chapter nine, Thrasher brings us the idea that one specific way of aiding our prayer life is cultivating the affirmation and and blessing of godly companionship to help us cast our cares upon the Lord.

My Story

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago, my world came crumbling down. “Overwhelmed” is an understatement when faced with the prospect of cancer and one’s own mortality. Had it not been for the many who came alongside as my husband and I cast our care (of this diagnosis) on the Lord, I think my we would have despaired of life itself. Many prayed for our well-being, our strength both emotionally and physically, discernment of options, and perseverance along with simple, gentle comfort from God.

We can honestly say we have never felt more uplifted in our spirit, strengthened in our resolve to fight on, and clarity in the decisions we had to make than at this time. If we had not had others around us who took on, felt our pain, and fought the battle alongside us we would have had a much harder time walking the path the Lord had set before us.

We had a peace and strength that “was beyond our understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  We knew it could only come from casting our cares and burdens upon the Lord with others right there alongside us. The Lord asks us in I Peter 5:7 ” to cast all our cares on Him (the Lord) because He cares for us.” While He cares for us and wants us to bring everything, humbly, before Him, we also need to grasp how important it is to have others stand beside us, praying for us and with us. Even the Lord himself in crisis (in the garden of Gethsemane), asked his friends to “keep watch with Him in prayer” (Matthew 26:37-38). God also encourages us in Galatians 6:2 “to carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Thrasher states “the Bible clearly affirms the blessing and need of godly companionship. Iron sharpens iron so a person sharpens his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Having others pray for and with you is a mighty powerful thing. Others can pray for your situation, strength, discernment for the road ahead, protection and comfort.

Discussion

How important is it for you to live in this crazy, busy world with a peace that passes all understanding? Do not be a lone wolf. Cast ALL your cares on the Lord but also have someone in your life come alongside and walk with you in prayer, sharing and caring as you walk this earthly life together.

On the flip side, be always aware of who you can come alongside and be in prayer for. Do you have someone you can pray with? If not seek and search out someone you can share precious prayer time before the Lord. Do it today! If you have someone you do pray with, touch base with them and continue to spend precious prayer time with them and with the Lord

Let us know your thoughts. And don’t forget to journal!

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2012 in Book Study, Prayer

 

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