How to Pray Study Guide Questions: Chapters 5-6
Week 3 Asking (pt. 1)
Chapter 5: Petition
Chapter 6: Intercession
· The Father loves to give good gifts.
· Traffic lights: Yes, Wait, No.
· Sometimes we need to “stack dominoes” and persevere in prayer
Q: It’s often easier to believe God can change things in our hearts rather than believing in things can see in the world. Do you agree?
There is a word missing, but I am going to assume the question is whether we think it is easier to believe God can change things in us personally rather than changing something outside of us in the world. I believe pretty equally in both. I can choose to obey. So I have a part in the change, but I have been interceding too long to not believe that God can change things in the world. I have no control over people’s choices, but I love to see God change people’s hearts. I have seen communism fall and more disciplemaking movements happening across the world than ever in history! Prayer changes me and the world.
Q: How often do you ask God for what you want as well as what you need?
When I was reading this chapter, I had just read about Jesus asking blind Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” (This is a big moment in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius. So I return to this passage frequently.) I sometimes have a hard time knowing what I really and truly want. I believe God puts things on my heart, and I ask. Sometimes they seem pretty wild. Like when I saw a Suburban, and we were driving our truck with a baby and one on the way. I prayed for a Suburban and shortly after this George’s dad said, “I want to give you my Suburban.” Oh really?
So the day Jesus asked me what I wanted after my usual time of being in the presence of God and then taking my prayer soaking walk, I said, “Lord, I have all I need, but I wouldn’t mind a kayak. Yes, I would like a kayak. And I would love it if George would go through the Spiritual Exercises again using the book I wrote. That seems pretty demanding since he has already gone through them before though."
Within hours, George mentioned in passing that he was praying the day before, and he felt like he would like to go through my guide to the Spiritual Exercises. I told him I had just prayed about it that morning, and he jokingly said, “So you were 24 hours late in hearing God!” LOL! Then a little later he said, “I just ordered you a kayak from REI.” I didn’t know he had been looking for one for months for me. So those are a few fun stories. I believe he just wants to give good gifts.
Or the time I prayed the young women in the group I was mentoring would realize that my tea was low (that they drank every Sunday) so they could grow as guests in their future overseas. Of course, I could afford to go out and buy tea, but God laid it on my heart to pray it.
The next day there was tea on my doorstep when I got home from shopping with a little note from one of the women. Then day after that, two of the women in my group were together, and secretly dropped by two more boxes (I saw them on my doorstep doing it but didn't want to spoil their "surprise"). A little later, I got money in the mail from another one of them saying that they wanted to reimburse me for all the tea and treats. And finally one of them came with a white trash bag filled with tea saying, "My mom was helping someone move, and this lady had all this tea, and I knew you love tea and have it for all of us and others." (I am STILL getting through that tea all these years later!) So ASK, and he gives abundantly for his plans and purposes! WOOHOO!
I agree that asking is because God is RELATIONAL, and he wants us to be VULNERABLE. As a Type Two on the Enneagram, I am not always in tune with what I want or need. It is vulnerable and scary for me to articulate it once I know what I want and need.
I also think that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts (Ps 37). God laid buying a bigger house on my heart once, and I thought, “NO NO NO. I will not live the American dream! We are going back overseas! We want to keep our house small and be frugal!” But he kept saying he wanted us to have a bigger house.
It was true that our house was getting quite small for the groups we were having over, and their ever-growing families. So, I told my friend Kim (and God) that I would like him to just drop something in our lap because we just didn’t want our whole lives to be dominated by a house hunt. I also said, “I would like him to drop a house like Dale and Mary’s house into our lap.” Their house would mean kids in the basement within earshot, and adults upstairs with prayer or Bible study, etc.
I told her this on Friday, and on Tuesday, Dale and I were painting props for the church Christmas concert, and he said, “We are putting our house up for sale.” We made an offer within hours, and it has brought us 18 years of people from all over the world, eating, laughing, loving, praying, studying his word, doing spiritual direction, and listening prayer. SO GLAD God plopped it in our lap.
Pete uses the traffic light analogy to describe different ways God responds to our prayers:
· Green: Yes
· Amber: Wait / Persevere
· Red: No
Q: Are you experiencing a “green”, “amber” or “red” response to any specific prayers at the moment?
I am one who loves a clear answer. I don’t have a problem with a “NO." I have even learned to just “WAIT” too! (I gave a whole message on waiting once.) I waited for my husband for years, and he was so worth the wait.
I have seen him answer too many prayers that I had to wait YEARS for (like the salvation of all but one of my immediate family) to not persevere. He is faithful. YES, I have many things I have an amber-like on right now, but in the waiting (Hebrew word is qavah [kaw-vaw’] comes from a root that means “to bind together by twisting,” and I see waiting as an opportunity to bind my heart with God’s heart). There is one I pray for and hope for, and I am waiting with hopeful anticipation!
Take time to pray. Remember the following as you pray:
· Pray incrementally: Pray for a specific next step, rather than jumping to the top of the staircase
· Pray the promises of God: Is there a specific promise that relates to the situation?
You also might like to follow the P.R.A.Y model – start by pausing and welcome the Holy Spirit, then rejoice and give thanks before asking. Remember to yield and surrender everything back to God as you finish.