Digging Deep Study for 2014-2015: Unto Thee, O Lord.

Thumbnail DDIGW Here it is! The 2014-2015 Digging Deep Bible Study. Now is the perfect window of time in which to invite friends, form study groups and plan for a year that is sure to bring us all closer to the throne. Podcasts will be generally on the last Tuesday night of each month, but watch this page for any schedule changes and links to podcasts. They will be archived if you are unable to view them live. Feel free to make hard copies of this study or to forward it to friends. Feel free to repost or email to others. Let’s “plaster” our circles on Facebook with this powerful too for effecting positive change in ourselves and our culture. We can’t do big things in our world if we are unwilling to individually do the small things. The study is great for classes in your congregation or for just you, individually. So Dig! Deep!…

Unto Thee, O Lord

This year’s study, about prayer, covers only the “tip of the iceberg”.  The Bible has much to say about the purpose, the peace and the power of our cries to God. Often, I find myself struggling to schedule the time to “pour out my soul”  and “lift up my voice” to Him rather than longing for that time “like the deer pants for the water”. But, if we stick with this study I believe we will find peace in prayer for the rest of our days. That’s my personal goal. I hope you will grow as I have already begun to do by digging into the will of God about our approach to His throne.—Cindy Colley

 

There’s a blessing in prayer; in believing prayer,

When our Savior’s name to the throne we bear.

And a Father’s love will receive us there.

There is always a blessing—a blessing in prayer. (Eliza E. Hewitt)

 

 

September—Prayer in its Infancy

1. Read Genesis 1-4 and identify the verse where prayer, as we know it seems to have begun.

2. Read Genesis 15. What questions did Abram ask of God? Is it okay for us to ask God questions in our prayers? What questions have you asked of God?

3. Read Genesis 17. What was Abram’s physical posture as he talked to God? (Let’s notice prayer postures as we go through this entire study.) Is it a good thing for us to take this posture in prayer today? How was Abram’s faith faltering even as he talked to God? Does your faith sometimes falter even as you pray? Let’s talk about this on the podcast.

4. Read Genesis 18,19. How did Abraham influence the mind of God through prayer? Do you believe you can influence the mind of God through your prayers? Read Exodus 32. Who influenced God’s mind in this chapter through prayer? How do you know he did this?

5. In Genesis 20, who  prayed following his sin? Read the following passages and find the prayers that followed sins or vanities in the lives of God’s people. List the passages where the prayers are found and the sins that prompted prayer. Then see if you can list a specific verse in each case that shows us that there was humility of spirit following the sin.

II Samuel 24

II Chronicles 15

II Chronicles 33

Job 40

Job 42

6. Read Genesis 24. Who prayed in this chapter? When did God begin to answer his prayer? Do you believe God sometimes begins to answer our prayers before we are finished speaking them? Let’s discuss this on the podcast.

7. Read Genesis 25. For what did Isaac pray? His prayer was answered in an affirmative way, but did this mean everything about the answer to that prayer turned out well? Sometimes we may rejoice in positively answered prayers, but our choices in regard to those answers may tarnish even those answers to prayer. Dissect the model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. List the petitions our Lord made. How many were for physical blessings and how many were for spiritual blessings? How should this affect our petitions? How will this kind of prayer affect our choices regarding our physical blessings—their uses and our decisions about them?

8. Read Genesis 28. List the promise made by Jacob in prayer. List promises you have made to God in prayer. Read Judges 11. How should Jephthah have been more discerning as he was promising to God? Pray today that you will always take your promises to the Father even more seriously than you take any promise to any man or business on earth.

9. Read Genesis 32. What was the circumstance of Jacob’s prayer for deliverance? How did Jacob show humility in that prayer? How does prayer help us today when our physical families become divided? How does prayer help you, personally, even when situations in your family cannot be rectified?

 

For this month, let’s focus on the characteristic of humility that should characterize us in every petition to the throne of God. Go to the throne and spend a few minutes at the close of this study praying for the spirit of Genesis 32:10 so that your prayers will be more earnest and more effective.

 

October—The Prayers of Moses-A

1. Read Read Exodus 1-4, focusing on 3:11-14 and 4:10-13. Moses was obviously sent to free a people and His prayer highlighted his imperfections. He was not altogether willing. Read Deuteronomy 3:23-29, the prayer Moses prayed at the end of his life. Notice that the “parentheses” around his life—the “book-ends” were prayers. See the growth between those two prayers that punctuated his life on earth. Did his willingness to lead and intercede increase as he walked with God?  Who was the intercessor sent later who WAS perfectly willing to intercede for and free a people?  Read Philippians 2:1-12. While we know He was willing, find his prayer that showed that this submission, in the end, was difficult for the human side of our Intercessor. Notice also that God identified Himself, the sender in Exodus 3. What was that identifying name? The “sent”  wore that name when the Great Intercessor came. Find the New Testament passage that gives that label of identification to our Intercessor.

2. Read Exodus 5-7 giving emphasis to 5:22,23. This intercessor used prayer to complain. Did our Intercessor ever complain about the job He was doing on our behalf?

3. Read Exodus 8-10 with notice especially to 9:33 and 10:16-19. Add another prayer posture to your list of Biblical postures begun in September.

4. Read Exodus 15. Can a prayer be a song? Read this article: http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=3765&topic=139 What verse in Ephesians 5 would show us that prayer can be a song? List five examples of such prayers in song that we use in our worship today:

5.Read Exodus 32, noting verses 31 and 32. Compare this in your notes to Romans 10:1. Why do you believe there is a dash in Moses’ sentence—a broken thought and an uncompleted sentence? (Fodder for podcast).

6. Now let’s look at the beautiful prayer of Exodus 32:9-14 where Moses prevailed as he interceded for the people of God. What were the two main lines of reasoning that Moses used to beg God for the salvation of Israel at this time? Read the recounting of this event in Deuteronomy 9. Read Numbers 14, paying attention to verses 13-19. Which of these lines of reasoning did Moses again use in this prayer? Who prevailed in the New Testament as he begged God to forgive those who “knew not” what they did?

7. Finally, read Exodus 33, noting verses 12-23. The nation of Israel had been blatantly disrespectful at this time. Read Romans 5:6-11. The great intercessors were unselfish to the uttermost in begging for the renewal of the unworthy. How can verse 11 of Exodus 32 be reconciled with verse 23? Good discussion for the podcast.

 

For this month (October), let’s focus on the intercession of Jesus on our behalf. Spend fifteen minutes in prayer as you close this study, praising Him for the Intercessor who purchased our freedom from bondage; for His willingness and for the fact that He was uniquely qualified to intercede for us.

 

November—The Prayers of Moses-B

1.  Read Numbers 10, paying attention to verses 35 and 36. For this month, make it a plan to pray, first thing, every morning for the triumph of his ark (his plan) in your life and, last thing, every evening for the safekeeping of all His plans as you “return” and rest. Now  Read I Chronicles 23:24-32. This describes succinctly the office of the Levitical priesthood.Notice verse 30. Note that their days, similarly, were to begin and end with prayer. Here is another prayer posture for your list.

2.  Read Numbers 16 and notice the prayer in verse 15. What emotions do you hear in this prayer? Is it wrong to pray for the rejection of the “offerings” of those who are maintaining a rebellious spirit against the Lord? Why or why not?

3. Read Numbers 21. What was Moses praying about in this chapter (verses 7-9)? Was his prayer answered? If his prayer was answered why were not the serpents immediately removed? Why did the people still have to do something? Can we, as sinners in the world today, simply cry out to God for forgiveness and immediately be eternally saved from THE serpent (Rev. 20:2)? Should we pray for the forgiveness of those who have not taken advantage of the MEANS of forgiveness? Why or why not?

4. Read Numbers 27. Find Moses’ prayer for a new leader. Notice this phrase: “…which may go out before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd.” Could we put these words in our prayers for faithful leaders/elders/bishops/shepherds in our congregations today.?  Make this a prayer for your congregation this day.

5. Read I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Make a list of elder qualifications from these two passages. Specifically pray by name for each one of your elders. Then pray individually for each qualification in these two chapters to be met by each of them. Next, write them each a note to let them know you are praying for them.

—OR—

If you do not have elders, pray that men will arise up and meet these qualifications. Pray for young men, in your congregation, by name—that they will aspire to be characterized by these descriptions. Then write a note to at least three young men in your congregation to let them know you are praying that they will aspire to, one day, lead God’s church in that place.

 

December—Chronicled Prayers

Sometimes in the records of I and II Chronicles, there are lengthy readings of genealogies about the period of the Kings. All of these lists of men are pointing with precision to the Christ.  Let’s take this month to pull out some “prayer gems” and learn from prayers of some of those men—prayers that left the lips of men, were heard by a Father who superintended their dealings, and then were given back (chronicled) to men (even us) by the great Holy Spirit of that God.

 

1. Read the prayer of Jabez from I Chronicles 4:9,10. From which tribe did Jabez come? List the things for which he petitioned and check the ones that were spiritual in nature. What characteristic of Jabez did the Holy Spirit mention specifically?

2. Read I Chronicles 5: 18-22. From this passage notice the reason God heard this prayer and list it in your notes. Give an example of someone who may pray today without including this element.

3. Read I Chronicles 17, noting this great prayer of David. Go back and read II Samuel 7, also. Find the prayer posture listed for this prayer and add it to your list of postures. What did David call himself in this prayer? David reviewed the history of Israel before God in this prayer. Certainly God already knew this history. Is it okay for us to trace the paths of our lives in prayer to God, including the circumstances of our redemption, even though He already knows from whence we have come? Read Psalm 105 and 106 in this light. Notice the phrase ”for thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee forever” (II Samuel 8:24). How does that phrase encompass us today? Give New Testament references to support your answer.

4. Read I Chronicles 21. David’s prayers are in verses 8, 17 and 26. Why was it wrong for David to number the people?  How did God react to David’s prayer in verse 8? Give modern-day examples of pleas for forgiveness which may be answered, but still require severe consequences even after repentance? Try to find two other Old Testament examples where God sent fire in answer to prayer. Early in the book of Acts God sent something like fire as people were praying. Cite that passage. The God who sent fire in answer to prayer is still just as powerful as he hears our prayers, although he uses that power today in non-miraculous answers to prayer.

5. Read I Chronicles 29. Why was David rejoicing in this chapter (verse 9)? Is the heart that offers willingly also going to be the heart that praises sincerely? In what specific ways do you believe our giving to the church today enhances our prayer lives? Be thoughtful and let’s talk about this on the podcast. (Think about how your relationship with people here on earth grows as you invest in those people.) Did David believe giving was a privilege? Can we know this from his prayer? Add the prayer posture of verse 20 to your list.

6. Read II Chronicles 1, I Kings 3, I Kings 4:29-34 and James 1:5. Is God less likely to answer our prayers for wisdom today than in Solomon’s day? What are the key characteristics listed in James 1:5 of the God who is listening to our prayers? Does our prayer for wisdom guarantee that our lives will always be directed according to that wisdom? How do you know from this example in the Chronicles? Try to find a description of the wisdom from above in the book of James. List its attributes. Try to incorporate them into your day.

7. Read II Chronicles 5-6 and I Kings 8. List the petitions to God found in the prayers of these chapters. Also, add the prayer postures that are found in these chapters to your list.

8. Read the chronicle of the life of Asa in II Chronicles 14-16, noting his prayer in verse 11 of chapter 14. Make a list of things Asa did in his lifetime that proved the sincerity of his prayer. How did Asa’s original prayer affect other prayers of other people in chapter 15? What, do you think it means to seek the Lord with your “whole desire” (II Chronicles 15:15)? Do you think there are prayers today that eventually affect the way other people are praying. Note examples.

9. Now read the chronicle of the life of Hezekiah from two places: II Chronicles 29-32 and II Kings 18-20. Then find a part of his story as you read through Isaiah 38-39. From these chapters, take note of what you consider to be the most amazing example of answered prayer from the life of Hezekiah. Is it possible to be too trusting in people of the world even as we are prayerful and trusting in God, also? Support your answer from the life of Hezekiah.

10. Read about another king, Manasseh, from II Kings 21 and II Chronicles 33. What did it take for Manasseh to finally “fall down” before God in penitence? Is it right for us to pray for bad things to occur in the lives of wicked people IF that is what it takes to humble them before God? Why or why not? Summarize the grace of God in one sentence as shown in the life of Manasseh.

11. Finally, read II Chronicles 34 and 35. Was Josiah a praying man? If so, from which verse(s) do we know this?

 

This month and for the rest of this year, purpose (if you are not already doing so) to pray before bedtime with your family or anyone who lives in your house (if you are blessed with others in your house). Every.single.night.

 

January—Prayers from Psalms and Ezra 

1. Let’s categorize the prayers of the Psalms this month. Here’s a list of Psalms that contain prayers:

Psalm 3,4,5,7,8,16,19,22,23,24,25,27,31,32,35,36,39,40,41,42,43,44,51,55,57,71,73,90,102,

104,119,138,139,143,145.

Now place each prayer psalm in one or more of the following categories. (All of our lists will likely be different):

 

Prayer for safety from or victory over enemies:

Prayer for sanctification or holiness:

Prayer of praise of God Himself (here also read Hebrews 1:10-12)

Prayer of security in God’s care:

Prayer of praise for the Word of God:

Prayer of the cross:

Prayer for spiritual help and guidance:

Prayer of confession:

Prayer of humility or expressing human frailty:

Prayer expressing faith and trust in God:

Prayer from a heart of great despair, yet hope:

Prayer for help and redemption:

 

2.  Read Ezra 1-3. Ezra 3:11 is another case of prayer (praise) in song. The prayer of Ezra 3 is one offered in a time of encouraged workers. The work of the Lord was well underway. The morale of the believers was high. Sometimes we fail to pray when things are going smoothly. Today make an effort to praise him in short prayers throughout the day for the things that are right in your world.

3. Read Ezra 4-8. What prayer was asked and answered in chapter 8?  Do you pray for a safe passage as you travel about for His glory?  (All that we do should be to His glory…Col. 3:17!) Fasting accompanies prayer in this passage as a journey and mission was about to be made. Find a similar New Testament circumstance in Acts 13. Find a circumstance in Jeremiah 14 in which prayer was not heard and answered even though accompanied by fasting. Do you believe we should accompany some/any of our prayers today with fasting? Why or why not? Good podcast discussion.

4.  Read Ezra 9 -10. What were the sins of which Ezra was informed in chapter nine and what was his reaction? In what ways has complacency about sin hindered our praying and our prayers? Sacrifice accompanied this great prayer of Ezra. How does living without sacrifice hinder the working of prayer in our lives today? Ezra blushed with shame before God. In what ways does our loss of the ability to blush about shameful things impact our ability to pray effectively? In verse 8 of chapter nine, Ezra speaks about the remnant that had escaped bondage for a time. Run the references from your concordance on the word “remnant” in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and list the verses where the word is used in referring to a small part of God’s people. Find the references to the remnant in the book of Romans.  Let’s talk about God’s remnant on the podcast and how he hears their cries.

5. In Ezra 9:9, Ezra says the remnant are about repairing desolations. Are there ways in which that is true today in the “house” of God? If so, how?

6. How is 9:11 an accurate description of the world around us? Are you praying every day that God will keep you sanctified from the world? From verse 14, what happens to the remnant when they “join in affinity” with the world?

7. Is it possible for a public prayer to have a great affect on those who are praying along? How do you know from Ezra? What huge decisions were apparently impacted by this prayer of Ezra?

8. Add the prayer posture of 9:5 to your list.

 

February—When It Seems Like you Are All Alone

1. Read the book of Jeremiah. Highlight each prayer you find and make an appropriate title for each one. For instance, first will be the conversation Jeremiah was having with God in Jeremiah 1. You might call that one “The prayer of Recognizing Inability” or “The Prayer of “I Don’t Think I Can Do This.” All of our titles will vary. But I’m hoping we can learn how to call on God when we are overwhelmed at the task. So many times today, especially in America, it is easy to believe we are not up to the task of standing for Him in this world of sin.

2. Now get a good concordance and run the references on the word “cry” in the Old Testament. You do not have to read them all in full. (There are many. ) But write out five favorites in your notebook that are reassuring to you as you grow in your faith. Memorize one of these.

 

March—Prayers from Jonah and Habakkuk

  1. Read this good introductory article: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/66-great-truths-from-the-book-of-jonah
  2. Read Jonah 1. Highlight the prayer of heathen men in that chapter. Is there a sense in which God hears the prayers of sinners? In what sense does He? Read the account of the conversion of Cornelius from Acts 10. Is there a sense in which God heard the prayers of Cornelius when he was not a Christian?
  3. Read Jonah 2. What was Jonah’s prayer chamber here? Did Jonah “pray the scriptures”? Research and find all the scripture quotations in this prayer? Make a list of at least five lessons we learn from Jonah’s prayer in this chapter. Let’s compare notes on the podcast.
  4. Read the prayer of a penitent people from Jonah 3. What did the king wear in this prayer time? What did the people wear? What did their animals wear? Did the animals cry along with the men?
  5. Read the prayer of a peeved prophet from chapter four. Read I Corinthians 13 and list every “rule” of love that Jonah violated in his response to Ninevah’s penitence in this chapter. If I am ruled by love (agape), in what ways does this submission to agape affect my prayers…in tone, in specific requests, in frequency, in thanksgiving, in praise, in attitude). Think of someone you know who needs to repent so that he/she can be spared from God’s destruction. Pray for that person today with agape in your heart.
  6. Read this good article: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/968-habakkuk-1-2-a-challenge-to-god
  7. Sometimes when we pray , we think God is not hearing because of the distance, in time, between our prayer and its answer. One of the great lessons in any prayer study is that God is not on our time table. Read the book of Habbakuk and highlight the prayer (two passages) in chapter 1. Is God “holding his tongue” (verse13)  in situations today? Make a list of at least five of those situations of our day.
  8. Now notice carefully the verses that follow. Do you pray today for those people who “sacrifice to their net  and burn incense to their drag”? Who are these people today?
  9. Highlight the great prayer of faith in Habakkuk 3. Notice specifically the statement of trust from verses 17-19. Do you make statements of trust in your personal prayers? Did Jesus include a statement of trust in the model prayer of Matthew 6? If so, what is that statement?
  10. How do we know from Habakkuk 3 that Habakkuk’s faith, praise and happiness was not   dependent on outward circumstances?
  11. Can you find seven Old Testament references in which the Lord is called “The God of My Salvation”? (Begin in Habakkuk 3.) Let’s address Him as “The God of My Salvation” for the rest of this month as we pray, taking in the full import of where our lives would be without that salvation.
  12. Finally in the great “trust” statement of 3:17-19, we find two “I will” statements on the part of Habakkuk, followed by two “He will” statements. What phrase comes in between these two kinds of statements? This is the essence of the covenant between man and God. Let’s discuss, on the podcast,  how the covenant that we have entered affects our prayers.

 

Pray the day: Choose a day this month and attempt to “pray every activity.” When you wake up, thank God for being physically awake for another day and ask him to help you be spiritually awake today—aware of the blessings and the challenges that are yours as a Christian. Then when you get in the shower, thank him for the cleansing of body so readily available and pray for the cleansing of your soul as you walk in his light today. Then when you get dressed, thank Him for clothing. Tell him you are thankful for the promise of Matthew 6 regarding the lilies of the field and that you want to be spiritually clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27) or that you need help putting on the spiritual armor today. You get the idea. (You don’t have to remember this in every single activity, but give it a good shot. It’s a stretching exercise.)

 

April—Jesus Teaches about Prayer

  1. Read Matthew 6 and highlight the teaching about prayer. Notice verse five. What is the reward of those who pray to be seen of men or without sincerity? Why is it important that we pray in private with great frequency? Read Psalm 42 again. Highlight a phrase that shows how I must be longing for time with God rather than using prayer as a device to gain the praise of men. Read the parable in Luke 11:5-13. How does this story show the “need” factor of sincere prayer as opposed to the “ritual” factor? Read Mark 7:24-30 and list some characteristics of this woman that we should have as we approach God in prayer.
  2. Read the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican from Luke 18. Go back and read about Josiah in II Chronicles 34 again. Find the verse in which God tells Josiah why He is hearkening to his prayer. List the reasons God gives. Which of these things did the Pharisee do?…The Publican? (Add prayer postures to your list.)
  3. Read Luke 15. In the analogy of the Prodigal, what verse is pivotal, showing that repentance is necessary before restored communion (effective prayer) can happen when we have strayed into sin? Read I Kings 8 (the dedication prayer at the temple) and highlight the verses that show that repentance is necessary before God will hear an erring people. Read Acts 8 and highlight the verse that teaches repentance before prayer.
  4. Read John 14. Highlight the texts that show that answer to prayer is bound up in our willingness to obey…to put our very lives into our prayers. Read Deuteronomy 11 and highlight the verses that emphasize that answers to prayer are contingent on our own actions relative to our prayers. Make a list of some of the requests that we often hear in public prayers that are definitely tied to our own obedience.
  5. How important is faith when we pray?…faith that God will answer our prayers in His wisdom and compassion? Read Mark 11:20-24 and see how faith was required of the apostles before they could receive the miraculous gifts they needed to take the gospel to the world. Read Hebrews 11 (a staple of any “faith” study) and highlight the verse that tells us what we must believe before approaching God. Read James 1:1-8.
  6. Read Mark 11:25, 26; Matthew 6:14,15; Matthew 5:22-26;  Matthew 5:43-48; Matthew 6:9-15 and Matthew 18:21-35. Make an honest assessment and if there is some penitent soul that you have refused to forgive, recognize that God cannot forgive you nor heed your cries until you go and forgive. Take care of this obstacle to your answered prayers today.
  7. Read Matthew 9:14,15; Matthew 17:14-21 and Mark 9:14-29. What practice did Jesus sometimes pair with prayer? Read Psalm 35:11-15; Nehemiah 1:1-6 and Esther 4:1-3. Why did/do people observe this practice and how would this practice naturally become associated with prayer? Let’s talk about this on the podcast. Read this article: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/231-is-fasting-for-christians-today.
  8. Read Luke 18:1-9. Why did the judge finally hear the woman? What other parable that we have already noted, stresses the importance of persistence in prayer? Again, read the account of the mother from Canaan, but this time from Mark 7: 24-30.
  9. Read Matthew 26:36-46. What is the key statement from these verses showing that our prayers must be in accordance with the will of God? Read I John 5:11-21 and highlight the verses here that teach that our prayers must be according to His will. How do we know His will, so that we can make our petitions within that scope? Will this sometimes be unclear to us? How should we proceed in prayer if we do not know what His will is concerning some petition we are making? Let’s discuss on the podcast. Now, read Numbers 22-24 and identify someone whose will was counter to God’s will as he spoke to God. What happened through a donkey when Balaam tried to compromise the will of God? Do you ever see things occurring around you (not miraculously, but providentially) that help instruct your prayers to be more in sync with the will of God?
  10. Next, let’s examine the prescribed characterizations of prayer.

a. Prayer is TO whom? ( Read Matthew 6:6)

b. Prayer is THROUGH whom? (Read Hebrews 13 and see by whom it is that we

can offer our praise to God)

c. Prayer is IN whom? (read Ephesians 6:18) Lets’ discuss exactly how we do this on

the podcast.

 

May—Jesus Prays.

  1. Read Luke 3:1-22 and highlight the reference to Jesus praying. What happened while Jesus was praying? While I know that miraculous revelation is not occurring today, I often find that, while I am praying, I find my best plans for evangelism, my best ideas for encouragement, or my best charted course for parenting. Let’s discuss this non-miraculous kind of “finding answers from scripture” and why it would occur during times of prayer as well as while studying scripture.
  2. Read Luke 4:42 and Mark 1:35. These are about times of prayer that immediately followed very busy days in the life of Jesus. Challenge yourself to rise up thirty minutes ahead of schedule following one busy day this week and spend that time in prayer.
  3. Read Luke 5:1-16. Jesus escaped from his popularity with prayer. He withdrew himself. Challenge yourself to go apart to a quiet place, somewhere at which you will not be disturbed, and spend 15 minutes in prayer for those people who are pressing for your time and/or pray for your own attitude toward those around you with needs.
  4. Read Luke 9:18-26 . People who pray together naturally become close. We will make it a goal later on in the study to challenge ourselves to pray with others.
  5. Read Luke 9:28-36. Luke is the only one who records the transfiguration as being born of prayer. Again, making a non-miraculous comparison (and certainly not claiming any real comparison with this affirmation of Jesus by the Father), is there a sense in which our lives are transfigured by contact with the Holy One in prayer?  Read Psalm 34:1-9.
  6. Read Luke 10:17-22. Here Jesus rejoices in prayer. Joy expressed to the Father in prayer is as natural as expressing our joy in triumphs to our spouses or other family members. My prayers of joy are often very short, while driving or after speaking to someone on the phone and hearing good news. Make it a point during this week to pause briefly several times and express your joy to the Father when something positive is happening in your world.
  7. Read John 11 and highlight the graveside prayer. Notice especially the phrase that truly connects Father and Son in an intimate way: “I knew that you hear me always.”
  8. Read Mark 6:46-56. Where did Jesus pray on this occasion? What was the immediate miracle that followed? Figuratively, is it easier for us to navigate the storms when we have been on the mountain praying?
  9. Read John 12:19-36. I love this passage because it seems that Jesus was speaking to mortals and he just naturally transitioned into speaking with His Father. Oh, that prayer could come so naturally, yet reverently, in my life! This prayer was a result of the Greeks’ request to see Jesus. What did this “glorifying”, that Jesus was praying about, have to do with the request of the Greeks to be in communion with Jesus?
  10. Read Luke 22:24-38. I love the fact that Jesus was praying for Peter, BY NAME! Does he pray for you and me? Memorize Hebrews 7:25.
  11. Read the great intercessory prayer of John 17. Make some lists:

a. List the things Jesus, in this prayer, said he has done.

b. List the petitions he makes for his disciples (in all ages).

c. List the titles used for the Father in this prayer.

12. Read the prayer on the darkest night from Luke 22: 39-46, Matthew 26: 36-46 and John              18:1-2. It is interesting that Judah knew this place. He betrayed the place of prayer. Once this prayer was completed, the crisis came and passed and Jesus went to the cross, not     as a victim, but victoriously. Who strengthened Jesus as he prayed, enabling Him to do the Father’s will? Read Hebrews 5: 7-10. Was this Gethsemane prayer a necessary part of  “being made perfect’?

 

13. Read Matthew 27 and Luke 23 and list the three prayers prayed from the cross. Volumes were  spoken in each of these three prayers. List at least three lessons we can learn from each of these prayers. Let’s discuss how we can emulate the truths from these prayers in our own prayers when we meet for the podcast.

14. Read Hebrews 7:25-28 and Hebrews 9:24. Does Jesus continue to pray in heaven? Good podcast discussion.

 

June—Prayer in the Infant Church

  1. How important was prayer in the infancy of the New Testament church? The assignment for this month is to read the book of Acts and highlight every prayer or reference to prayer. Do these three things:
  1. List all prayer passages.
  2. Add any new prayer postures to your list.
  3. List all the places/circumstances of prayer in Acts. (example: Acts 1:13, 14 would be prayer in an upper room/ while waiting)

 

July—Paul and Prayer

  1. What a huge place prayer must have had in the life of Paul! How long must his prayer list have been! Read the following scriptures and notice the amazing attention he gives to consistent prayer for fellow-Christians (Be sure to read #3, below):

Romans 1:8-11

Ephesians 1:15-23

Romans 10:1-3

I Corinthians 1:4-7

II Corinthians 13:7,8

Ephesians 3: 10-21

Philippians 1:3-6

Colossians 1:1-17

II Timothy 1:1-3

Philemon 1:1-6

Make a prayer list to use for the remainder of the month for remembering needs of the family of God. If you find this is an efficient way to keep up with the needs of those around you, continue to update. (A dry erase board is one way that works well in keeping this list.)

2. Read the entire books of I and II Thessalonians and highlight every mention of prayer.

3. From all of the passages we have noted this month, make a list of the things for which Paul prayed. When you think of someone in your congregation who needs the same prayer that you are listing, jot their names beside the specific request of Paul.

4. Then make a list of those in your congregation who are weak and/or struggling. Use your church directory to peruse and identify those people you know with specific needs, especially spiritual needs.  Spend a few moments in prayer each day for a week, for these people.

 

August—August is our practical month. This August, let’s concentrate on some specific prayer instructions from the New Testament, rather than actual prayers. 

  1. Romans 12:12—Paul told the Romans to be “constant in prayer”. The Greek meaning here is “to be earnest toward, to be diligent in, to adhere closely to.” List three people during our past year’s study who were constant in prayer. Are you? Read I Thessalonians 5:17.
  2. I Corinthians 14:12-18—Our emphasis,from this passage, for this study is on the importance of public prayers being intelligible—easy to understand. Can you list some phrases that may be ritualistically used in our public prayers that are not so easy to understand?
  3. Paul teaches us, in II Corinthians 12:7-10, by example, how to deal with prayers (even cries of despair) that we believe to be unanswered.  Make a list of prayers in your own life that have gone “unanswered” or with an answer of “no”. Beside each one try to think of some blessing of grace that has come into your life because of this “unanswered prayer. (Example; The first one on my list would be the death of my mother even as I was praying so hard for her to get well. Beside that blessing I would note that I became more evangelistic, more serious about the need for godly motherhood in my own life, more dependent on God [rather than my mom] and more empathetic to those who were dealing with cancer in their families, as a result of my “unanswered” prayer.)
  4. In Ephesians 2:18, we find Paul mentioning each Person of the Godhead as being involved in prayer. Thank God, the Father, today for the instruction of the Spirit and the intercession of the Son in your prayers. Which one of the Godhead, according to Hebrews 4:14-16, allows us to come boldly before the throne?
  5. In Ephesians 3: 13-21, we find an amazing passage on prayer that concludes with the glorification of the One who is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or imagine, according to His power.” When you pray today, tell God that you know He is able to do exceeding abundantly more than you can even ask or imagine. Verbalizing this to Him will help grow your faith in His ability to answer your prayers. He is able. Also, go back and read Daniel 3 and Daniel 6.
  6. Read Ephesians 6:18-19. Paul asked the Ephesians to pray that he could be bold in the proclamation of the gospel. Paul, in turn, prayed for the preacher, Timothy in II Timothy 1:2-7. Take time to make a list of the most effective proclaimers of the gospel that you know in our modern time and pray for boldness for each of them every day for a week. Read Colossians 4:2-4.
  7. Three components of effective prayer are found in Philippians 4: 6: (1) be careful for nothing (where does Peter reiterate this?) (2) make your requests known (3) be thankful for everything. What assurance does the following verse (7) give us if our prayers have these components? Remember Paul is writing this from prison. Do you think we can do this if he could? How important is positive thinking to effective prayer? Read the entire chapter and list the references to joy or rejoicing and then list the assurances or promises given.
  8. A Digging Deep ladies prayer session is being planned for PTP 2015. Attend this session in person or via podcast. Information about getting your prayer requests in for this session and for your sisters to take home and add to their prayer lists will be forthcoming in the Bless Your Heart Blog found at www.thecolleyhouse.org and on the Digging Deep Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Holy Spirit is Working At PTP!

1233412_10101287715624745_127146552_nThis week I am at a conference in Sevierville, TN that is just about as close to heaven as we are going to get in this lifetime. 3500 or so Christians worshipping, praying , studying and hugging each other in the hallways. People pouring out burdens to empathetic ears, singles “mingling” and playing games together (I’ve heard some matches were made!), elders and future elders sitting at “scenario tables” figuring out how the Word would direct congregations through difficult problems, moms leaning on the wisdom of older women and teens ingesting truths that are the real sword for winning battles of peer pressure and temptation. This, and so much more, is Polishing the Pulpit. Save up your money and head for the hills next August. It will be a great place of renewal on your journey to heaven. (And, next year, you can meet my Baby G!…one more reason! =)…You are seeing him this year…you know, that lady who looks like gravity will, of necessity, make her tip over frontwards at any moment!)

 

If you’ve been in the Digging Deep study this year, you know that the Spirit works mightily through the Word of God. Today He is working through that precious Word in the hearts of women at PTP. But the good news is, you can share the excitement of that working today at 2:30 pm EST via the live Digging Deep podcast. We will be concluding the Knowing God study and embarking on our 2014-15 study. Come and be in the room as we unveil this brand new study. Be in Ballroom A or  be in the chat room at www.talkstreamlive.com. See the women here who have completed the 2013-14 study in its entirety. Be encouraged and motivated. You will not complete the 2014-15 study without putting down roots in heaven. Yes, I am confident! God is just so good. You don’t have to be in the Digging Deep study to know and experience this, but you DO have to be in Bible study! That’s how the Spirit works in us. That’s how He motivates. That’s how He leads. That’s how He moves!

 

If you haven’t been moved by the Spirit this week, may I suggest you open the book?

 

Sister to Sister: Ferguson–Truth is Unimportant.

images-3That’s the largest lesson of the new school year for children in Ferguson, Missouri. Here’s what they are learning this fall and the lessons will stick lots better than if they were they being taught using workbooks and flashcards. Lessons taught in real time and real life always do. So here’s that real-life indelibly inked curriculum:

 

Whenever you feel life has treated you (or “your” group) unfairly:

1. Truth becomes less important than agenda.
2. The commission of crimes against innocent people is justified.
3. It’s okay to take (and keep) what does not belong to you.
4. You no longer have to answer to any civil authority.
5. Physical force is your authority and, thus, the new law is “Might makes right.”

When the investigation is over and the facts are laid bare, the lessons will keep coming. Suppose Mr. Wilson is declared innocent in the end. What then? The premise will once again apply; that is, a large group of people will feel that life has treated them unfairly and the above “rules” will direct behavior. If Mr. Wilson is guilty of murder, then let the investigation render that truth (and may he be duly punished).  But mark it down: If he is innocent of murder, there is no verdict of his innocence that will be powerful enough to stop the agenda, reinstate proper authority and change the “curriculum”. Class will be over. And it will not be a peaceful recess.

I Have a Prior Commitment (part 1)

imagesI recently received a letter from a reader who strongly challenged and disagreed with the principles that I teach about a woman’s role in the home. The only problem is this: I  did not originate the teachings. They are not mine. The teachings originated with God. I am but a mouthpiece for women who want to achieve the fulfillment God intended for their marriages. Think today about who commands your marriage relationship.

 

The two simple words, “I do,” changed almost everything about your world. They limited your possibilities in some ways and wildly enhanced them in others. In those two little words you likely exchanged dating for mating, shopping around for shopping for groceries, and being a child to hoping for one. It was a radical change and, assuming you had lived your life in purity, it was probably the fastest radical change you’ll experience in this lifetime. Your married love is sustained by your commitment. That’s right. Marriage is not sustained by love. It’s the other way around. Agape love is the force that makes Christian marriages happy and makes them last a lifetime. Throwing in the towel is not an option for those of us who view marriage as a triangle between ourselves, our husbands and our God. In fact, the commitment we made by candlelight before those witnesses was only solidified by the fact that we already had a prior commitment. Our marriages are infinitely richer because of the prior commitment we made to Jesus Christ. Before I married my husband I was spiritually married to Jesus Christ (Eph 5:32). I made vows of faithfulness to the Lord long before I made them to my husband. The prior commitment rules the present commitment and that’s what gives us security in matrimony. Let’s examine the influence of the prior commitment.

 

The prior commitment and obedience

 

Because my first commitment (my prior commitment) is to Christ, I am primarily responsible for obeying him. Thus, I immediately have the guidelines for marital submission: I must obey my husband in any event, except in the event that he asks me to disobey my Lord. Words like “submit to your husbands as to the Lord,” in Ephesians 5:22 “even as Sarah obeyed Abraham” in First Peter 3:6, “obedient to their own husbands” in Titus 2:5, “submit as it is fit” in Colossians 3:18, and “see that she reverence” in Ephesians 5:33, are strong vernacular in our culture of feminism. But, if we are first submissive to the Lord, our submission to our husbands “in everything” (Ephesians 5:24), is not contingent on culture or convenience. We do it because we are married to Jesus, first. True, it enhances the experience of marriage. God’s way is always the best way. But we submit to our spouses because our marriages are triangular relationships with our Savior at the top. The words in Ephesians 5:24, “in everything,” are powerful. They are all-inclusive. Some have argued that submission in marriage is only required in spiritual matters– that my husband has no authority about what kind of cookies I bake or whether or not I accompany him to the office party. That premise, though, is inconsistent with the teaching in the first few verses of First Peter 3. Those verses about the exhibition of meekness and obeying as Sarah obeyed Abraham are directed to women who are married to men who are yet heathen men. It’s clear that submission in First Peter 3 is not about spiritual matters, at all. While it is true that godly men, in the spirit of loving their wives as Christ loved the church, delegate authority to capable wives in many areas (My husband has never been specifically authoritative about my kitchen.), the wife’s obligation is still to obey ‘in everything.”

***Forms of this material by Cindy Colley first appeared in The Fort Worth lectureship book (2014–http://btcoc.com/cpt_events/fort-worth-lectures/) and the Power Lectureship book (2014–www.southavencoc.org)

Sister to Sister: Submit to A Man in 2014? Really?!

images-56I was teaching teens on the virtues of Titus two when, at the end of the class, Harper folded her arms and said, “Mrs. Cindy, are you really telling me that, when I marry, I have to submit to a man?”

“Well, no, Harper. I am not, exactly, telling you that. GOD is telling you that.”

Harper then said (arms still folded in defiance), “Well, I am not doing that.”

Sarah’s legacy, as recorded in First Peter 3:1-5 is not one that most women aspire to build today.  The qualities that we are specifically instructed to exemplify in order to be her daughters–in order to “do well”–are all traits that we are to exhibit in the marriage relationship. They are: subjection, a chaste manner of life, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, and obedience.

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Our willingness to observe and emulate the spirit described in the above verses will set us sharply apart from most women of today’s American society. While women around us make fun of their husbands, we will honor ours. While they attempt to usurp the roles of leadership and family provision, we will be happy to follow and flourish in the roles for which God created woman. While female role models in America today are those who flaunt sexuality and focus primarily on physical beauty, we will be modest and chaste, placing our emphases on the beauty of the heart. Ironically, our quietness will make us stand out in a world of assertive and boisterous women and our femininity will be a gentle affront to feminism in our culture. While we may associate worldliness with immoral actions (i.e. drinking, fornication, adultery, gambling…), the big temptation to be like the world, for God’s women today, is often  in Satan’s lure for us to lead our husbands, to assert our authority in society and to be loud and self-promoting in our very personalities.

Harper grew up in the Lord’s church, but somehow she missed the relevance of this plain scripture to her own life. She missed it in Bible classes. She missed it at school where it hasn’t been taught (where it has been mocked) for the past sixty years. She missed it from the pulpit, which must have been weakly, if at all, proclaiming the plain truths from the New Testament about roles in marriage. Saddest of all, she missed it in the place where it could have been taught most directly and powerfully—her own home. Unless Harper changes, her marriage and parenting are never going to be the happy experiences that God has in store for those who choose to do home and family God’s way. In fact, unless she changes, the Word will be blasphemed from her spiritually dysfunctional home (Titus 2:5). Harper’s daughters will probably never be truly happy either…and their daughters….

***portions of the above material taken from The Power Lectureship Book, 2014, www.southavencoc.org.

Sister to Sister: T O D A Y…

tacobell_taco_party_pack_01                  Today-

…On the way to worship I got a text from my friend, who is a brand new Christian. “I am so excited. My husband is coming with me.” And so he did! How many times have I taken it for granted that my husband is going with me to worship!

…We had a prayer before our service for a brand new baby. We prayed for her father, who is not a Christian, to be the kind of Father that he wants and needs to be. How many times have I taken for granted the fact that the father of my children has always been a faithful Christian?

…We prayed, as a church, for a home recently under attack by the devil. How often do I take for granted the blessing of thirty-four wonderful years married to the same man?

…We had a meal together as a church family, but I forgot about it until I got there this morning, so I sent my daughter to Taco Bell to pick up 30 tacos. I didn’t even think twice about that. But how many times have I been in mission areas where people did not have access to any fast food at all, and, even if they had, they would scarcely have had money enough to purchase it?

…I had asked for folks at West Huntsville to bring me the center cardboard rollers from their toilet paper rolls for a project I am doing at PTP. I had about eight big bagfuls to bring home from services today. Definitely a first world response to that request! I never even think to be thankful for toilet paper. (But I did think of it once in a “bathroom” that was a hole in the ground on the mission field in Ukraine!)

…We were almost out of gas on our way home and so we stopped at the station and filled up, not one, but two tanks. That’s right. Three people went to services in two cars. I know people who ride bikes for miles and miles on dirt roads to worship. How often do I fill up without even thinking of the luxury that it is?

…I came home and packed up a roast, two containers of home-baked cookies and two containers of watermelon to send home with my daughter. How many people “perish with hunger” while, in our house, there is “bread enough and to spare”?

…I listened to three packed rows of children recite Bible facts in our “Kidsing” class. How many times have I visited churches in which there were not enough children to even form a class?

…I kept moving down the pew as the friends of Nuris, who has only been a Christian for three weeks, just kept pouring in for our evening service. The family next to me moved to a different section to make room for all of these people coming in just a bit late.  She had brought a dozen people, in all…twelve people who, with the exception of two, had never been in a worship assembly of the church of Christ. How often do I, someone who has been a Christian for 45 years, fail to ask my friends and neighbors who need the Lord to come learn of him with me?

…Our elders got up and addressed our congregation asking for prayers for their wisdom and for people who are dealing with a very difficult situation. How many times do I take good shepherds for granted, when so many have no shepherds at all?

…A very sweet sister stopped and said some very encouraging words to me…words I really needed to hear. But only this past week, I heard from a fellow-preacher’s wife who is receiving quite the opposite of encouragement (in fact, blatant and unwarranted criticism) from a very outspoken sister at every service she attends. How many times I fail to realize the great blessing of strength that comes from sweet sisters!

…Our fellowship hall was abuzz again in the evening with a good-bye party for six college students who are off to Freed Hardeman University and another couple of kids who are off to Auburn. I guess I take it for granted, too, that almost all of our kids who want to go to college can go. That’s surely a first-world situation.

…We stopped at Zaxby’s for supper. Now kickin’ chicken wings with no cooking?… I hope I don’t ever take that for granted!

…A sweet friend telephoned when I got home this evening to talk to me about an addiction she is overcoming and a new start she is trying to make. She’s a young teen and her father has addictions of his own.  I’m sure I have neglected to express my gratitude to God for  the situation of my birth; modest by the standards of the world, but rich in the real treasures…a birth to two Christian parents.

…I’m lying beside my husband who is watching an online documentary about Henry VII, while I am typing on my own laptop. I know couples, even millennials in other countries, who have never owned one, much less two computers.

…There’s a cat that we are pet-sitting on the foot of our bed. Clocks are ticking around us and crickets are chirping outside our window. We are tired at the end of this and every Sunday. On our way home, Glenn said, ’Isn’t it nice to have a place…our quiet place to come home to? Don’t you just love waking up in that wonderful spot every morning with the light streaming through the windows as you contemplate the peace and how that nobody is going to bother you?” He’s right, you know. (I was thinking of laundry, PTP lessons, appointments, cooking, cleaning, sewing and this wretched way that my back is aching.)  Maybe he is a little bit of a romantic. Maybe he is just good at not taking so much for granted. Maybe he is meek and is “inheriting” this earth (Matthew 5:5). Whatever you tag it, looking through the lens of your blessings rather than your burdens is a great way to “own” your own surroundings. It is a better way to be affected by your “world”. It is one way to “inherit the earth.”  I want to be more like my husband. Today.

p.s. This Wednesday at noon: deadline for ordering WH purity day t-shirts. Go here for details: http://thecolleyhouse.org/someone-who-loves-you-went-to-a-great-purity-day-this-weekend-and-all-you-can-get-is-this-beautiful-t-shirt.