September 11, 2016 Acknowledging Dependence

Acknowledging Dependence

Among Apostle Paul’s ‘final instructions and benediction’ of 1 Thessalonians 5.12-25 is verse 17: “pray without ceasing”. How can we do this, since we must work to keep the roof over our heads and food in the frig? What about with sports and school and just hanging out with friends? What did Paul mean? Does this have anything to do with Deuteronomy 6.4-9? How are we to “pray without ceasing”? Did even Jesus practice this? Besides, what does “praying without ceasing” have to do with Spiritual Warfare?

A. Illustrations.

  1. Elijah was instructed to meet with God at His mountain, Horeb, in 1 Kings 19.9-16. Remember that Elijah was running from Jezebel the wicked wife of King Ahab, who had sworn to kill Elijah because his God had humiliated and/or killed the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah,”who [ate] at Jezebel’s table” (1 Kings 18.19-40).
  2. At Mount Horeb, God spoke to Elijah not through the powerful wind or earthquake or fire but through “a sound of a gentle blowing” (verse 12, NASB; “still small voice” in NKJV; “sound of a low whisper” in ESV). What do you make of the contrast? How is this an evidence of Spiritual Warfare? How, then, does this position Philippians 2.9-11?
  3. What is the essence of God’s question, “’What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kings 19.13)? Like so many of us, Elijah repeats his actions and Jezebel’s intention to kill him (verse 14). But, God understands the real reason for summonsing Elijah and, ignoring Jezebel’s threat, instructs him to carry out certain solutions from God (verses 15-16).
  4. My contemporary application of this understanding is the CEO who must listen to God to deal with the external powerful “wind” of the economy and the competitive “earthquake” and/or the internal “fire” of corporate stresses from growth of size and complexity.       The Holy Spirit speaks with “a sound of a gentle blowing”. Elijah listened carefully; so must we.
  5. In another, the Prophet Nathan’s instructions to King David in 2 Samuel 7.1-3 help to explain Elijah’s complaint and my application. Whereas Elijah ran to God to save him from his fears, David had experienced God overcoming his fears through conquests. Now, at ease, David envisions a Temple for God’s Ark of the Covenant.
  6. How does Nathan’s instruction reveal “a sound of a gentle blowing” within David’s mind and that of the CEO? BTW, I believe we hear God’s voice more intuitively than audibly.
  7. Consider God’s words in Psalm 50.15, 91.14-16, Isaiah 30-.21 and Jeremiah 33.3 assuring of His readiness to answer our questions and assist with our deepest longings (Psalm 37.4).
  8. The following are examples of Biblical leaders who heard the voice of God (OT) and the Holy Spirit (NT):

B. So, how is the Model Prayer an example of “Praying without Ceasing”?

  1. Matthew 6.7-13 record Jesus’ instruction about succinctly worded prayers and about the acknowledgements of our prayers.
  2. God does not count the number of words; rather, He weighs our faith in our use of each acknowledgement. Consider Habakkuk 2.4 and Hebrews 11.6.
  3. How, then, does verse 8 frame the Model Prayer in verses 9-13?
  4. Driving this understanding deeper, why did Jesus say “Hallowed BE Your name” instead of “Hallowed IS Your name”? Obviously, Jesus knew that God’s name was already hallowed. What is He saying about “praying without ceasing” through this verb?
  5. Thus, how do you understand each acknowledgement of Matthew 6.9-13 as you state each in your own wording? What are you acknowledging? Do you sincerely mean it?
  6. How might you word the prayer in the jargon of your profession? Consider the following illustration, which I wrote in January 2016.

For Enterprise Leaders:

Our Founder, Who art in Heaven;

Hallowed be Your name!

Your vision come.

Your mission be done on Earth, as Your will is done in Heaven.

Give us today the customers we need, and forgive us for speaking ill about our customers, competitors, and suppliers, for we repent from speaking ill about them.

And, lead us away from the temptations of philosophies and strategies that change Your vision or mission, and deliver us from the power of satan that would confuse, conflict, and confound us.

For, it is Your righteous kingdom we seek, and Your power and wisdom we depend upon, and Your glory we desire to be our result forever and ever!


C. What does “praying without ceasing” have to do with Spiritual Warfare?

  1. Paul answers in Ephesians 6.18-20, restating the wording as “pray at all times”.
  2. How does Romans 8.26-27 explain Paul’s “pray at all times in the Spirit”? How do these verses complete the thought of Romans 8.14? How does Isaiah 30.21 make this personal? What picture of this is given in Jeremiah 6.16? You might see this in Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken. An interesting ending verse.

The Holy Spirit will lead away from and to overcome satan’s temptation and harm. Enjoy God’s reassuring and similar words in Isaiah 35.8-10.

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2016.

3 thoughts on “September 11, 2016 Acknowledging Dependence”

  1. The following are thoughts on, “praying unceasingly,” mentioned in this lesson.

    1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5
    12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you,
    13 and to show esteem for them with special love on account of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
    14 We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all.
    15 See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all.
    16 Rejoice always.
    17 Pray without ceasing.
    a. At what point during the day should we stop communicating with God, or stop ceasing to be with HIM?
    b. Certainly, being able to align ourselves with the teaching of verses 12-15, we must be in constant communication with God to know how to complete the tasks listed in a manner that would prove profitable for all concerned, and pleasing to God.
    c. At what point can we say we have been in God enough when we realize all that we can ever hope to righteously accomplish will come from God, and without HIS guidance and WILL being done, nothing of value will be accomplished.
    d. HE is the CREATOR of all we can possibly acquire, and that all we have should be dedicated and given back to HIM as an offering of love?
    aa. We give special people offerings of love not only through material gifts but, by giving of ourselves as an offering of servant-hood of love, through our actions, so why not give ourselves to God with the same enthusiasm?
    bb. Love HIM through service to HIM by being a servant to others.
    18 In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
    a. Usually we thank God for the benefits HE gives us but fail to thank HIM for the loses, failures, that we are allowed to experience, which aren’t usually considered to be moments for giving thanks, but if God is in everything we do, there must be reasons for HIS allowing us to have such experiences, which could have the potential of deepening our Spiritual growth.
    aa. It seems God refines those who are in need because of HIS love for them and not to punish them.
    19 Do not quench the Spirit.
    a. Is it possible the Spirit is quench a little when we fail to turn to God for even the smallest issues that arise in our lives, as if we are saying to HIM, we can handle this, YOU are only needed when things get difficult?
    b. How would this attitude help build relationships with those who desire to be close to you in your family if the only time you come to a brother, sister, husband, wife, etc. is when you find yourself in situations that you can’t handle, but sharing your life is not permitted?
    c. How do think God feels when HE is left out of all of your life and only is considered a friend when your need is great?
    d. Pray unceasingly always want to be in contact with HIM, seeking HIS input in everything we do.
    20 Do not despise prophetic utterances.
    21 Test everything; retain what is good.
    a. This verse, in itself, challenges the reader to pray unceasingly because there are many decisions being made that would be more effectively decided, from a Spiritual perspective, if they were prayed about before selecting TV offerings or other electronic or print media to see if what is offered is consistent with what God has been teaching through HIS WORD.
    b. Challenge yourself to evaluate the time spent in various activities that might be considered questionable, as compared to the time spent in prayer, and determine how you would rate each activity on the “quality meter.”
    c. Which activities would you be inclined to not want to partake in if Jesus was sitting next to you?
    d. Why or why not, would you be inclined to seek Jesus’ advice when making a decision as to whether or not to partake in any of your usual, daily, activities?
    22 Refrain from every kind of evil.
    a. How much prayer do you believe is required to help you refrain from doing anything that would be outside the boundaries of what you know to be Spiritually sound behavior?
    b. Since evil is usually always attempting to steal from the Spiritual blessings we attain, it seems praying unceasingly is the key to either recovering what has been stolen by Satan, or in preventing Satan from even believe he has an opportunity to pull us in his direction.
    Concluding Prayer.
    23 May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    a. Notice the prayer here is for God to make us, as if it is a process, and if it a process, then praying unceasingly for the process to not be interrupted by evil in any form is our call to action.
    b. Since God has given us free-will HE is also going to accomplish what HE desires in us only if we us our free-will in a manner that aligns with HIS WILL, therefore continual prayer, seeking to strength, disciple, and courage to live within the WILL of God as given us in Scripture is of great value.
    24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.
    25 Brothers, pray for us [too].

  2. Thoughts on the “Model Prayer” mentioned in this lesson.
    1. What is a model?
    a. It is an example of what is to be used to perform a task, allowing for creativity, but existing so consistency will be maintained.
    b. The beginning of a process that meets the need but could be built upon to create a more advance method of meeting needs.
    2. What is the purpose of a model?
    a. To provide a way of performing a task that is consistent but that could be varied if desired, within the parameter of maintain consistency of thought.
    b. To provide a way for those not comfortable in performing a task to have a stable way of performing tasks until ready to extend their comfort level by expanding the model.
    3. If the model was given as a competent method of performing a task why would it have to modified rather than be used in its present form when the person using it finds comfort in having the consistency of knowing the model has served its purpose admirably?
    4. Moving on to the Prayer that is often referred to as the “Model Prayer,” the “Lord’s Prayer,” or the “Our Father,” it is important to realize that it was Jesus WHO gave us this model to be followed.
    5. Acknowledging Jesus to be perfect, it should not be a far leap to believe that what HE creates would be perfect, including the entitled Model Prayer.
    6. If the Model Prayer is perfect, Jesus’ creation, then why wouldn’t it be perfectly used as it was written in Scripture, without the need for modification?
    7. “Our Father Who art in Heaven,” acknowledges God’s position compared to our position thereby causing us to understand who we are in relationship to Who HE IS and increasing our sense of awe or desire to worship HIM.
    8. “Hallowed be Thy Name” allows us to acknowledge the degree of reverence we are to have when we approach God while reciting His Prayer, a reverence that is greater than we should allow ourselves to give to anything in the world, even sporting events that occur and interfere with Sunday Worship.
    9. “Thy Kingdom come Thy Will be done on earth as it in Heaven,” commissions us to behave as if we were with God in Heaven, divorcing ourselves from the world as much as possible.
    a. Approach God with an attitude that causes us to sensor how we what we say, what we allow ourselves to see, or hear that isn’t aligned with the Message God is teaching us.
    b. Imagine how many activities from earth would be welcomed in heaven as well as how much of heaven society would welcome to coexist with the morals and values earth offers.
    10. “Give us this day our daily bread,” is asking God to supply our needs for the day, to walk with us throughout the day helping us ward off the advances of Satan and his evil friends, which should remind us to pray unceasingly.
    a. We should attempt to delineate our needs from our wants as well as to understand how they coincide with the daily needs God desires us to find satisfying.
    11. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive us those that trespass against us,” is a warning to check how we are relating to others especially those with whom we disagree, often strenuously.
    a. It is rather explicit that we will receive what we “dish out,” or putting more succinctly, whether or not we treat others how we would like to be treated.
    b. When we consider we are asking God to treat us like we treat others it should be sobering enough to motivate us to see others as Jesus would see them.
    12. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” brings to mind how God is our protector against evil and is there to help us ward off temptation, which is cause for us to consider praying unceasingly, as temptation presents itself daily, often with power and strength that can only be thwarted by the intervention of God.
    13. Amen. So be it.
    14. If we consider a model being a jumping off for imaging how each of the parts of the Lord’s Prayer can expand our thoughts as we recite it then, yes, it is a model of sorts.
    15. I find the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer to be comforting, inspiring, rejuvenating, as I contemplate God’s power, strength, HIS desire to forgive me of all wrong doing, as well as a desire to guide me toward a heavenly way of living, as my heavenly protector, against all that is evil.
    16. Why would it be beneficial for me to design words to fit a situation when the words exist, given to us in perfected form, with the intent of inviting us to analyze our relationship with our CREATOR, and to seek HIS help when we fall short of perfect?
    17. If you could create a more efficient, a more inclusive prayer than the Lord’s Prayer, what words would you use to rival or transcend those used by Jesus in HIS prayer?

    1. Thank you, John, for your thoughtful comments and questions about this study. As a general answer, my purpose is to help students to stop and think about this Model Prayer that we have quoted by rote since childhood. One method would be to phrase it in one’s own words in a specific context of their lives. To illustrate, a waitress friend, asked me, years ago, to agree with her phrasing of Psalm 23: “The Lord is my banker; I shall not be in want….” Thus, she expressed her understanding of one of the roles of the Shepherd. You express this thought in your points 10-12. And, quoting the Model Prayer as Jesus stated it is fine and should be with developed understanding, as He expresses in using “Be” instead of the obvious ‘is’ hallowed.
      My suggestion of personalizing a prayer using Jesus’ Model is likened unto Pastor Paul Cho of South Korea. His church is one of the largest in the world with 21 worship services conducted each week. He says that his morning habit is to contemplate each word of the Model Prayer as he mentally runs the laps of an imaginary track. He says that he wants to understand the fullness of each word in the past and present applications.
      Don’t worry; I am not rewriting the Bible. I am only suggesting that we understand the depth of past, present, and future meaning of Jesus’ Model Prayer. Also, remember that the context for prayer stated in class repeatedly is that Christian warriors must be in regular contact with their ‘Commander’ (Holy Spirit) for using specific ‘swords’ from Scripture (like Jesus did in Matthew 4) for positioning the shield of faith against incoming fiery darts from satan, and for yelling the war cry, ‘Jesus’, appropriately, as God instructed David against the Philistines.
      Thanks, again, John, for your thoughtful considerations.

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