Grow Deep: Praying With Jesus Edition, Week 1

Week 1: May 6-12

Praying With Love for the Father

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before You, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2

For many years my prayer life consisted of saying prayers before meals and bedtime—a habit learned as a child that continued into adulthood. As a young mom, my prayer life grew. Still, my prayers were almost like ordering from the drive-up window of a fast food restaurant. I fired off requests to God for what I desired and needed for myself and my family. In other words, my prayers were focused on ME. 

As a child, I learned Bible stories in Sunday School, but I never studied the Bible or learned about prayer as an intimate conversation between God and me. Then, when my own children were in high school, I was invited to a women’s Bible study. I spent that first year soaking it all in as I sat at the feet of Jesus and studied His Word. I learned so much from the mature Christian women in my group who shared their lives and faith. I experienced the power of prayer and the joy of praying for others!

I also learned the ACTS acronym for prayer: A=Adoration or praising Jesus for who He is; C=Confessing your own sin and seeking forgiveness; T=Thankfulness for what God is doing in your life; and S=Supplication, praying for yourself and the needs of others. It was a template that put God FIRST where He belonged and me LAST, where I belonged. What a change that made in my prayer life! I learned to pray with Jesus; I learned to listen to Him and His plans for me. I began to focus my thoughts FIRST on Jesus with worship and adoration.

Because I love music, much of my A=Adoration in prayer came (and still comes) through song. As I drove downtown and rounded a bend early one morning toward the end of that year in Bible study, the Arch came into view. The sunrise behind it was one of the most spectacular I can remember! I spontaneously started singing the hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth.” It was in that moment that I realized I had learned how to pray!

 

Sunday, May 6

Read: John 15:9-17; Acts 8:26-40

In the first two verses in this reading from the Gospel of John, the command to “abide” or “remain” in God’s love is mentioned three times. Just as Jesus “remained” in God’s love and became a reflection of His love, we are to model the love of Jesus to one another. Our expression of love for others is the fruit of abiding in God’s love. Obedience and prayer for others are also the fruit of abiding in God’s love. 

Reflect: What does it mean to you to “abide” in God’s love? How does “abiding” in God’s love impact your prayer life? What is the relationship between prayer and sharing the Gospel with someone who does not profess Jesus as Savior? 

 

Monday, May 7

Read: Psalm 36:5-9

These verses are a litany (or prayer) of praise to the Father for the wideness of His mercy. His children take refuge in His mercy; His grace is like rivers of delightful drink; He is a fountain that provides life and light in the darkness. His steadfast love is precious.

Reflect: How have you experienced the “wideness” of God’s mercy today? Pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God. Begin with these words: Oh, Lord, Your love is like …….; Your mercy is ……

 

Tuesday, May 8

Read: Psalm 63:1-5

This Psalm of David was written while he was in the wilderness of Judah, during the time when he was king. It was probably written while he was being pursued by his son Absalom and others who wanted to take his life. Nonetheless, David cries out to God in worship and praise!

Reflect: How did David respond to God in this “desperate” wilderness time in his life? How have you responded to God in times of desperation or in “wilderness” times? How is your prayer life directly affected by your own sense of “desperateness” or contentment?

 

Wednesday, May 9

Read: Psalm 89:1-8

This Psalm was written by Ethan the Ezrhite during the reign of King Solomon. It was probably written as a poem. In these verses, the writer shares his joyful love and praise to God for His mercy, faithfulness and steadfast love. He stands in awe of God because of His unfathomable love and might.

Reflect: List the attributes of God mentioned in these verses. In verses 6 and 7, with whom does the writer compare God? In verses 1, 5 and 8, the writer mentions one attribute of God. What is it? Take time to reflect on that attribute of God. How has God demonstrated His faithfulness to you today?

 

Thursday, May 10

Read: Psalm 119:57-64

While the author of Psalm 119 is not known, it is believed that this Psalm may have been written by David to teach his son, Solomon. The focus of these verses is obedience. The tone for these verses is set in the first verse: obedience begins with our commitment to God as the Lord of our lives and cannot be accomplished except for God’s love and grace.

Reflect: Write down three things that you learn about obedience to God from these verses. Which of these three things is most difficult for you? How does your obedience reflect your love for God? How does it reflect His love for you? How can you express your love for Jesus in a prayer right now?

 

Friday, May 11

Read: Ephesians 1:15-23

Paul prays for the people of Ephesus that the eyes of their hearts will be opened to see God. He prays that they might see the hope they have in Christ, the richness of knowing Christ and the power they have in Christ.

Reflect: Paul prays for the spiritual needs of the people of Ephesus. What are the three things he prays for in verses 17-18? Why are these three things important? Can you think of at least one positive spiritual consequence of a heart that sees God more fully and clearly? Take time right now to pray that God would open the eyes of your heart to see Him more fully.

 

Saturday, May 12

Read: John 15:1-8

Jesus is the true vine; His Father, the vinedresser or gardener; we are the branches. This image describes the critical relationship between the vine and the branches. Apart from the vine, the branches cannot produce fruit. We need to be connected to Jesus in the same way that the branches are connected to the vine. Prayer grows out of our connection to the Father’s love.

Reflect: How is John’s description of the vine and branches a word picture of God’s love for us? How does it depict our love for Jesus? Pray a prayer of thanksgiving that expresses the love that you have for Jesus.