Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – March 5, 2017
Theme: Building Blocks for Godly Living
Topic: Persistent Prayer
Text: Matthew 7:7-12; Luke 18:1-8
Key Verse:Matthew 7:8: “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (NIV)
Last Sunday’s study on “Tender Mercies” gave us a better understanding of how mercy works, God’s mandate to the Christian to show mercy be default, the risks involved in doing so, and the need to pray and be led by the Holy Spirit even when seeking to show this virtue. Our key learning points from that study include:
- To be merciful is to do something good to one in difficulty but who, by past conduct, does not deserve the favour. The natural human instinct it to see such situations as an opportunity to “get even”. However, this is exactly where God expects the Christian to show the quality of mercy.
- We must show mercy without necessarily expecting an appreciation or even a positive response. God does not promise that the beneficiary of our act of mercy will appreciate it; indeed, he or she may continue to plan evil against us. The Christian’s responsibility is to obey God by continuing to show mercy.
- Some acts of mercy can come with real risks to us. Consequently, we need to walk closely with God and seek His leading as we purpose in our hearts to show mercy. It is possible for God to, on specific occasions and for His purposes, ask us to withhold mercy to an individual. They key is to walk in the spirit.
This Sunday, we will be looking at “Persistent Prayer” as another building block for godly living. Persistence in prayer is our way of affirming to God that we depend completely on Him and have nowhere else to run to. But it does not always come easy. Our learning from this study should include the following:
- God desires that our relationship with Him be based on fellowship with Him – being in tune with Him – rather than on our getting instant answers to everything we ask the way we want them. The times He seems to be delaying in answering us should be a time of closer walk with Him.
- Remember that great men of faith in the Bible experienced what seemed to be delays in their prayer. As they stayed in fellowship with God, they got to know His mind on the issues. In the case of Apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”, it was a clear “No”, and the only thing he got was abundant grace!
- The Christian must resist the temptation to seek ungodly alternative solutions when it seems to him that God is delaying in answering his prayer, or when God is offering him a better but seemingly unappealing response. Such moves always lead to regrets in the longer term.
Honest Christians would admit that one of the most troubling experiences in our relationship with God is when we pray for something that seems obviously in God’s will, and we don’t get an answer. Imagine not being able to put food on the table for your family, or pay your house rent, or your children’s school fees. While this situation can be said to be common in the society, the Christian struggles to reconcile it with Jesus’ words in the passages of our texts. He makes it look so easy. Hear Him: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Mat 7:7-8 NIV) Really? The impact on us of an unanswered prayer goes beyond the disappointment on the issue at hand – it could weaken our faith in prayer for future issues: If God did not answer yesterday’s request, how do I believe He will answer today’s?
1. What reasons occur to you as to why God seems not to be intervening on an issue of grave concern to you and for which you have earnestly sought His intervention, possibly with fasting?
Many things Jesus promises are in the context of a personal relationship with Him, and cannot be appropriated in an impersonal way. The personal relationship we mean is more than just responding to an altar call and praying to receive Him into our lives. Rather, it is a relationship that cultivates an intimacy that can be compared to the intimacy between a father and a son that are really close. A father may have many children, but they may be close to him to varying degrees. Some, while acknowledging their father, may live their lives more independently, hardly consulting their father on any issue. However, there may be some that stay close to their father, learning more from the father’s experience and consulting him on key life’s issues. Whether close to the father or not, they are all the father’s children. However, the ones that stay close to the father would much more easily read the father’s mind on issues. Apostle Paul was so close in his walk with the Father that when he asked the Father to take away the “agent of Satan” from buffeting him – something that would seem obvious to be in the Father’s will, he understood and accepted it when the Father said, “No, my grace is sufficient for you”.
2. What practical steps can help us develop such a close relationship with God that we feel assured that all is well and He loves us even when he does not seem to be granting us what seems obviously in His will?
Persistence is an expression of confidence. We stay persistent in taking an issue to someone only when we believe the person can help with it. The reason the widow in our second text persisted in pleading with the judge was that she believed he had the solution to her problem. Children hold on to promises made by their parents because they deem their parents to have integrity. Each time we bring up an issue with God, we reaffirm our confidence in Him. However, it is important that in our persistence, we listen to what He has to say. It was by such listening that Paul heard God’s answer to the issue of the “thorn in the flesh”.
3. What temptations do we face while we wait persistently on God to help deal with a thorny issue in our lives, and how can we deal with the temptations? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Prayer: Father, we ask for Your grace to wait patiently and persistently on You on issues we bring to You for resolution and which only You can resolve. In Jesus’ name, Amen.