The Life You’ve Always Wanted Part 3

I’m behind on my writing about this small group session because I have had the flu and now I’m trying to avoid pneumonia as I get over bronchitis. It’s been a fun couple of weeks. I did not get to teach the last lesson as I felt my church didn’t want me to share the flu with them and this session also was taught by another deacon. Hopefully I’ll be up to full strength by the weekend though.

This third session focuses on the disciplines of prayer and confession. John starts off pointing out that most people save prayer for when they are desperate. When things get bad then we want to ask God for help.

John starts off by pointing us to Revelation 8:1-5. There is silence in heaven for half an hour as God and the angels listen to the prayers of the saints rising up in the incense. Then there is action taken based on the prayers. Our prayers are so important that they interrupt heaven.

Prayers change things and causes things to happen in Genesis 18:33 Abraham pleads with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah. God relents and spares Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:15) because of the prayers of Abraham. There is no way of knowing this side of heaven how many people you have helped with your prayers.

Jesus’ own life showed us a constant hunger for prayer and this led the disciples to asks him to teach them to pray(Luke 11:1). John recommends starting small with five minutes a day set aside at the same time in a quiet place of beauty. Jesus prayed early in quiet solitary places that were free of distractions. (Matthew 14:23, Matthew 26:36, Luke 5:16) Next he recommends preparing yourself with deep breathes and possibly repeating something like heavenly Father. Then we start with simple prayers. This is where you pray what is on your heart and he gives some examples of biblical people who prayed about what was on their hearts. Jesus prayed for daily bread (Matthew 6:11), Gideon prayed for proof that he could trust God (Judges 6:36-40), Moses complained about his job (Numbers 11:12), and Elisha complained about being called bald(2 Kings 2:23-24).

Next we need to be fully present to what the spirit says if your mind is wandering to wanting revenge on someone maybe God is trying to help you see something. Pray what your mind and heart wanders to. Then we move on to intercessory prayers. This is where we ask God to help someone. Just as Abraham had asked God to spare Lot. Prayer is talking with God. Just as a father loves to hear his children tell him what they are thinking God wants us to tell Him.

The second part of the third session is confession which should be a regular part of prayer. We have all sinned and we have to realize the stain of sin on our lives if we are to ever move past it. We must also confess to help relieve us of regret and guilt. Confession is not what God needs, it is what we need. It is a special gift where God can bestow His grace on us. Afterwards we will be liberated from guilt and less likely to sin in the same way.

We should let the spirit guide us in preparing to confess. As we think about thoughts, words and deeds we need to acknowledge our sin and take responsibility for it. That means not making excuses! Sin involves denial so we must ask the spirit for an honest perception of our sin so we can see the log that is in our eye. This involves asking two questions.  Why did I do that and what happened as a result?

Confession should look not only at naming our sin but our intentions in the future. In David’s confessions he asked for a pure heart be given him. We need to use confession to see our sin as sin and decide what we are going to do about it. The burden of guilt is a type of Grace. The release of that burden is an even grater grace and that is what confession is for.

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