New Hope UMC

1: Teach Us To Pray

May 9, 2019

Do we know how to pray? No, not instinctively says Dr. Albert Mohler, the author of our new Bible Study series. We must be taught. This study is on the Lord's Prayer, a short piece of scripture, found in both Matthew and Luke. You can buy books and take courses on how to pray, so why study these few verses?

Dr. Mohler gets us off to a good start with Lesson 1. The Prayer is a response by Jesus to a question by the disciples to teach them how to pray. These are religious men who have been around synagogues all their lives but apparently did not know to pray. This is our first clue. The disciples had to be taught and so do we. By the Master himself. He gave them the short prayer along with other advice, consisting of things to avoid. First, do not pray as the hypocrites do, standing in the synagogues or street corners, to be seen by others. Secondly, do not pray as the gentiles (pagans) with vain repetitions and many words. So don't pray to call attention to yourself and don't use flowery language. Then In Matthew 6:6, he says " when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Each lesson includes a video lecture by Dr. Mohler of about 20 minutes. Kevin then leads the group in a discussion. There is no homework or suggested discussion questions. The videos are available on the internet on Amazon Prime or Right Now networks. There are 12 lessons.

I am referring to these as "lessons" which may not be an appropriate description. A lesson is usually accompanied by some work on the part of the student - preparation, homework, etc. These sessions are more akin to opportunities for experiencing the meaning of scripture, through listening to a theological heavyweight and through participation with each other. The subject is a few verses that became the most well known prayer in history. So we can come together each week to experience the massive meaning of this Prayer, its theology and how it serves as a guide for our own lives.

2: Our Father in Heaven

May 16, 2019

We decided to change gears and are moving from Dr. Mohler's study to one by the Shepherd Church in California. They are both on the Lord's Prayer and both use a video presentation to begin each week's lesson. The video is led by Dusty Frizzell. There is a pdf file available on the web at this link if you want to review or engage in advance preparation, although that is not necessary.

We watched the video presentation and then Kevin lead us in a discussion of the main points which are concerned with the first words of the Lord's Prayer, 'our Father in Heaven".

  • we acknowledge that God is our father, that is to say that he is the father of us all, which includes Jesus, who is the person giving us the words to pray.
  • we look at the characteristics of earthly fathers: our own, TV characters, other fathers we admire. Mentioned were courage, knowledge, wisdom, dependability and compassion.
  • we understand that we are His children, all of us, including Jesus. We are created, Jesus is begotten, meaning that he is the same as the Father.
  • characteristics and traits of good children were discussed. These include trust, obedience, comfort, respect, teachability, tolerance, dependent upon, loving, innocent and honoring.

Our next session is on "Hallowed be the Name", the holiness of God. We will not be meeting on May 23, so this next lesson will be on May 30. Bible passages discussing the holiness of God can be accessed by following the link above and paging down to Session Two. The Psalms are particularly rich in describing the holiness of God.

 

4: Thy Will Be Done

June 13, 2019

This week, we are learning what it means to pray for God’s will. Too often we ask God for “stuff” and not necessarily for His will. His will is always perfect, even though it may not be what we want.

  • Remember we are dying to self and living to Christ. This is what it means to be a Christian. God directs us to do His will. He does not carry it out for us. That is our job.
  • So it follows that we must learn his will before we can carry it out for him. We are submitting to Him and asking Jesus to partner with us in this life.
  • We know from our previous lesson that God wants to bring about his kingdom, i.e., "thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven". If we are living out God’s will, we are participating as citizens of His Kingdom, and likewise, if we are living as citizens of His Kingdom, we are doing God’s will.
  • Paul gives us a clue in Galatians as to what this looks like. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
  • This is the Kingdom of God that is there when we adopt the attitude of Christ Jesus. When we do, we are in essence being an earthly version of Jesus to others. Thus, fulfilling His will and experiencing His Kingdom. All the while allowing others to enter and experience God’s Kingdom as well.
  • When we humble ourselves before God and others, we are seeking the betterment of others, as well as seeking what is pleasing to God. When we are seeking to please God through obedience, we are doing it out of an overflow of what He has done for us, and NOT to gain His love and favor. C. S. Lewis puts it this way. We don't do good so that God will love us. Rather, we do good because God loves us.