A Bible lesson in personal prayer
(This is a lesson originally
written for an adult sunday school class. The answers, preceded
by a dash "-" are for the teacher and are only given to the class after
everyone is finished responding to the question.)
is one of the most powerful privileges God has granted us.
about it: we can have a conversation with the creator of the entire
universe! The key word here is
often, our prayers are more like a speech than a
How can we fix that? How can we make our prayers the
close, intimate interaction with God they're supposed to be?
Read Mathew 6:5
And when you
pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to
standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they
may be seen by men. Assuredly I say to you, they already have
your public prayer less meaningful than your private prayer?
words, do you pray substantially differently when you're praying in
front of a group
than when praying alone? Naturally, you wouldn't discuss the
personal things in front of a group that you would in private prayer,
but how does the tone of your prayer differ? When you pray in
private or in public, do your prayers sound as though you're talking to
someone emotionally close to you, or do they sound like you are
reciting lines from a play? Make sure your prayers are
between you and God, not between you and the other people hearing you
What does Mathew 6:5 mean when it says: ‘they already have
-Their prayers are
-God does not honor prayers
spoken with such motives.
Read Mathew 6:6
But you, when
you pray, go into your room and when you have shut your door, pray to
your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in
secret will reward you openly.
What is this verse telling us?
-You should take some time to pray in
Why is it important to take time to pray privately?
-We can pray undisturbed so
our concentration won't be broken so easily.
-We will be more honest with
God and with ourselves when praying privately.
-Our prayers will feel less
like a performance
and more like a conversation allowing us to be more open and intimate
Read Mathew 6:7
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions (mindless
babbling) as the heathen
do. For they think that they will be heard for their many
This verse tells us to pray without ‘mindless babbling,' or
'vain repetition.' Why is this important?
-Vain repetition generally
leads to a loss of real meaning. It makes prayer more like a
-Vain repetition frees up our
minds making it too easy for our thoughts to wander during prayer.
-Knowing exactly what we're going to say ahead of time, keeps us from
putting much thought into our ‘conversation' with God.
-Using too much repetition makes our prayers less likely to reflect
what we are currently feeling and what's really going on in
lives right now.
Read Mathew 6:8
Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the
things you have need of before you ask Him.
If God already knows our needs, then the act of praying must
what's really important. Why talk to God about our needs if
already knows them?
-He already knows
our needs, but He is waiting for us to ask to show our trust in, and
dependence upon Him.
-Prayer brings us closer to
God even if we are discussing things He already knows.
-Prayer is more for us than for God. We need it--He
doesn't. He desires it, but doesn't need
-We need it, but too often
don't desire it enough to take the time to do it effectively.
Read James 4:3
You ask and do not receive, because you ask for the wrong reasons that
you may spend it on your pleasure.
Why do we sometimes not receive what we ask for?
-Because your motives are wrong.
What should our motives be when we pray?
-We should desire things which
improve us spiritually and makes us better representatives of God.
-We should ask for things that
will help others, putting others before ourselves.
-We should desire the
salvation of others. We need to keep an eternal perspective
in our prayers.
-We should want things that
will bring glory to God.
-We should pray for, and want
the things that God wants.
It's alright to ask for things for yourself, just be sure what you are
asking for doesn't break any Biblical principles, and that you are
asking for legitimate things that will bring you closer to
Try to avoid ‘give me, give me' prayers. Sometimes
for things with no other reason than "just because we want
In your prayers, tell God about things going on in your life.
It's okay to ask for things, but make sure that isn't all
doing in your prayers.
Remember, prayer is supposed to be a
conversation and a conversation goes in both directions.
you pray, take a minute to quietly wait for anything God may want to
tell you. It isn't very effective to tell someone something
then hang up on them before they can respond to you.
If our motives are wrong, does James 4:3 say that God doesn't hear our prayers?
No, it just says that if we ask for the wrong reasons, that's
why we won't receive.
that "no " is still an answer to prayer. Sometimes we pray,
says "no" and we say "I prayed about it, but didn't get an
answer." Well, maybe you did get an answer and the answer was
Read Mathew 6:9
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed (praised, holy)
be Your Name...
What's the very first
thing Jesus did in His prayer?
should start our own prayers the same way. Offering praise
thing in our prayers is a way to focus us on the blessings we've
received, and serves as a brief worship before starting our
conversation with the creator of the entire universe.
The 'Prayer Challenge' is to try a
few things in
your own prayer life to see if they make a difference for you.
The challenge isn't to adopt them permanently, just to try them.
So, accept the Prayer Challenge--try these ideas in your own prayer
life and you might just be amazed at the difference they make.
Start out slowly and take
with meditation first. Set a kitchen timer if you have
Start with at least one minute (a minute of silence is longer than you
work your way up to 3 then to 5 minutes eventually.
Spend this time
just thinking about God. Don't start your prayer
ask for anything. Just think about God, Christ, heaven, how
God loves you, what His Son did for you. Say some praises to
Lord, it's all right to say a praise to the Lord and then just keep
repeating it. This isn't vain repetition since you aren't
Open your heart and your mind to feeling
closer to God. When you start to feel His closeness (and if
do this sincerely, you will) then
start your prayer. You won't believe the difference you'll
and feel in your prayer life if you do this regularly. The
challenge, however, is to try it at least once.
Be relaxed with God
starting a prayer with something like "Hey, God." Galatians 4:6 tells
us God is our "Abba Father." This quite literally means
"Daddy." That is the kind of familiarity and closeness we
have with God. This is the kind of closeness God Himself
for us. Starting a prayer with "Hey, God" helps to relax
you and put you on a more intimate level with your Abba
It's hard to start a prayer this way and then be pious and vain in your
Starting a prayer with "Hey God" might even make you smile or chuckle a
little which has a way
of breaking down some of the barriers between you and God. If
starting your prayer in this manner does strike you as funny when you
it, go ahead and laugh. For one thing, it means that starting
your prayer this way did what it was supposed to do and besides, it's
alright for humor to be part of a conversation--especially a
conversation with your Abba Father. Besides, who do you think
blesses us with a sense of humor in the first place?
Prayer and fasting
Next time you fast about something in your prayer life, use the hunger
of fasting to keep you focused. Each and every time you
feel a hunger pang while fasting, take the time to say at least a
quick prayer right then and there. It doesn't have to be a
prayer, a few words will do, but it does have to be each and every time
you feel hunger. This keeps your prayers constant and helps
you focused on why you are fasting in the first place. It
functions as a reminder to keep us praying while we're fasting.
being patient for God's answer to prayers. If you are
praying about something, and with the right motives, then each time you
start to get impatient waiting for an answer, you can just remind
yourself that it's now God's problem and not yours. And don't forget
that sometimes the answer is "no."
This lesson plan is copyright
2007 by Keith Rawlinson. Since you are encouraged to use this
plan for yourself or with others, this lesson may be copied
and distributed without the author's
permission as long as it is for the sole purpose of a
Bible lesson. It may not be used, distributed or copied for any other
and may not be included as part of any other work. or website without
consent of the author.