Today, I have the privilege of sharing Barbara Harris‘ [Lesson Part One] on Prayer.
You can find Barbara’s blog here: http://bakinnbitsbarbara.blogspot.com/
Have you ever felt reluctant to do something you knew would bring you satisfaction or even downright joy? It seems silly at first glance, but we could be talking here about eating a pear rather than a candy bar. Or sitting on the porch swing rather than scrubbing the kitchen floor. Or praying rather than wrestling with a gorilla of a problem by ourselves. What makes us slow to do what we know we really want to do?
In the book of Jonah, we encounter a passel of reluctant pray-ers. These people would rather suffer than pray! They’re as silly as …well, as we are. But once they turned their hearts to God, God did some heart-turning of His own. Now sisters I am here to tell you, I want to have the ear of God turned towards me, How about you?
In this lesson you’ll have a chance to think about what causes you to be a reluctant pray-er and what can happen when you overcome that reticence. Like the people in Jonah’s time, you’ll discover God is merciful, loving, and discerner of hearts who is eager to hear from you.
A Moment of Quiet Reflection
1. Find your way to a comfortable place and relax, a place sheltered from noise of your world. Spend several minutes considering what makes you reluctant to pray. What in your heart keeps you from pray-ing? What in your present circumstances? What in our past experiences? Pause, think, ponder in your hearts condition. Examine your personal relationship with Christ. You may print this out and fill in some spaces below, to stimulate your personal examination.
2. Ask God to bring healing to past wounds, to clean the rooms of your heart in preparation for regular prayer, and to remind you to pray when you become too frenzied to remember, to not make it the last thing you do, but the very first, I have heard people say, when all else fails pray, shame on us, it should be our first response, not our last.
You know we all find time to do the things we enjoy doing, why is it we put off praying as a last resort? Ever thought of that? We need to be as disciplined in prayer as in every other walk of our Christian life. We need to have a prayer Journal, or prayer list of some sort, because when we start to pray our minds wander, I will begin Our Dear Father, and end up wondering if my husbands suit is ready at the cleaners, we need to train our minds, to keep in tune with the Lord God Almighty, maybe none of you have this problem, but I do, and I need help, so please help me, and pray for me, and pray for each other daily, God said he would keep them in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee. Well if we can keep on tract with everything else in our lives; then let us also be on tract with our prayer life, that we will be more in tune with the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Now look below and see the rest of our lesson on prayer..
Knowing God’s heart
The book of Jonah may be the ‘prayingest” book in the Bible. It contains more prayers in its few pages than most of the larger books do in their man. But the pray-ers here are not eager. Ladies, the book starts out with the Lord communicating with Jonah. But Jonah is more than reluctant to respond-he is ready to disobey. How much is that like us dear ladies? Plugging his ears, he dons his sandals and boards a ship destined for a distant land, far from Nineveh, the city the Lord commanded Jonah to preach repentance to.
So the Lord sends a violent storm after the ship with Jonah aboard sets sail. The first prayer we encounter is the sailors’. Once they had determined Jonah’s disobedience had cause the storm that threatened their lives, they were reluctant to follow Jonah’s advice to pitch him overboard and save themselves.
(Remember this study was prepared with a King James Bible)
1. Take a minute to read Jonah 1:4-13 . What are five ways the sailors displayed their reluctance to turn to God?
2. Which of their solutions are ones you’ve tried in a crisis? Share one personal example with the group.
3. Read verses 14-16. What actions and heart responses finally brought an end to the storm?
4. Why do you think none of the sailors’ previous actions had helped the situation.
5. Jonah, the next reluctant pray-er, finally speaks to God from a rather uncomfortable prayer chamber. Read Jonah 1:17-2:10 What emotions do you think Jonah felt as he prayed?
6. What does the prayer tell you about Jonah’s relationship with God?
7. What price does he recognize he paid for his reluctance to respond?
8. Jonah obeys God, travels to Nineveh, and proclaims repentance. This was no small task since Nineveh was so large it took three days to walk across it. And, as Jonah knew before he went there, the citizens of Nineveh certainly did not live prayer oriented lives. When they got up that morning, they had no idea prayer would play a central role, yet read about their prayer in Jonah 3:4-10. Why do you think they responded as they did?
9. Think of a situation in your life, now or in the past that felt or feels disastrous. What does the Ninevites’ reaction suggest about how you could have handled or could handle your situation better?
10. Read Jonah’s next prayer in Jonah 4:1-4 Now this is a prayer Jonah should have been reluctant to pray! (Can’t this guy get it right?!) What has he forgotten about himself?
11. What can we learn and apply to our lives from God’s reply to Jonah?
12. What do we learn about reluctance and the heart, as we look at all these prayers? Please feel free to answer all these question, they are for you and your responses, join in here.. all comments are invited.
1. While the book of Jonah has serious message to give us about seeking God, it also has a humorous side. Part of that humor is recognizing our own ungainly responses to God reflected in some of this book’s characters. Tell the group which part of the book tickles your funny bone and why. Or mention some part of the book that you especially related to.
2. “This would be a great time to let the rest of us know of a praise or special prayer request you might have at this time.” What have you been praying for and has the Lord answered? Please share with us .
Just for Fun
During the week ahead, treat yourself to something (harmless!) you’ve been reluctant to indulge in—take a few extra minutes to sleep in the morning, give a smile to someone who doesn’t seem to have one, buy that home decorating magazine you’ve been eyeing. Please tell us what you indulged in, and what happened as a result.
Share something you’ve been reluctant to pray about. It could be something so small you didn’t think it worth mentioning, or something you have been avoiding discussing with GOD. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing what you need to pray about, perhaps you can tell the group why you’ve been reluctant. Pray for one another that in the upcoming week you’ll over come your reluctance.
Making It Real in Your Own Life
1. Begin each day this week by praying, “Lord help me to be quick to pray today and slow to resist you.”
2. Try to find time (even a few minutes) at the end of each day to examine the times you were reluctant to pray. Ask yourself how you can overcome that reluctance tomorrow. Write down any thoughts you have.
My closing prayer through this lesson one is awareness in our own prayer life, and what kind of prayer life do we have, if you look close at your life, you will see it is as an example of how your prayer life is, praying every day sets the mood for your day, remember this, if you do not remember anything else, remember to pray openly and fervently to our Father above, this is our close relationship with our heavenly father, if your prayer life is lacking, then you are lacking in your walk with the Father. My prayer is Father Help us Lord, to turn toward you, and in our turning find that you have been turned toward us all along, and that if we are out of step with you Lord that may we see it is us that missed the step not thee, may you bless every lady reading these verses. Amen.
by Barbara Harris http://bakinnbitsbarbara.blogspot.com/