discussion
Questions
CHAPTER 4
FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD 
THROUGH PRAYER
•••

4.13  “My House Shall be Called a House of Prayer”

Jesus said, 

"My house shall be called a house of prayer" 

Matthew 21:13


Scripture tells us to pray "without ceasing... at all times... in everything... continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6 and Hebrews 13:15). 


Prayer should to pervade every aspect of our lives. So, it should come as no surprise that prayer should permeate the activities in God's house.



1976

When I was seventeen, I met a girl in my senior English class, named Mischa. Mischa is Russian for Michael. Our first date was on January 17, 1976. We talked for hours and hours on end. One day we were sitting in her living room and she said, "I think that we should read the Bible and pray together. My youth group leader at church says that we should do that." So, we read a scripture and prayed. Each of us prayed out loud. I had never done that with another person until that time. It was a spiritual encounter. Mischa was the first person that I had a spiritual relationship with.  

  • "19 Again, assuredly I tell you, that if two of you will agree on earth concerning anything that they will ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the middle of them" (Matthew 18:20).


When two people of faith pray together, something supernatural happens. Christ is actively involved in a very special way in that interaction. Christ was in her. Christ was in me (Galatians 2:20). Christ was at work in us.



House of Prayer

Reading the Bible and praying with other Christians is a critical part of your growth in the faith. It is a critical part of your fellowship with God.

  • It is written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer" (Matthew 21:13).


In other words, prayer is to be such an obvious part of the gathering of Christians that people will call that gathering "a house of prayer".


One may say... I see prayer in that verse. But I don't see Bible study in the verse. Well, scripture is always a part of prayer. That is because scripture determines the content of prayer. Prayer that is inconsistent with scripture will not be honored by God. 


I have grown closer to the Lord through many hours of solitude in prayer and meditation on the scriptures. But I have also grown in intimacy with Christ through Bible study prayer groups in my local church, especially through the comments of those who disagreed with me, and most especially in one such group which is led my pastor. His name is Eric.


If you are a pastor, please prayerfully consider what I have to say. I found it very helpful to have a pastor would lead a Bible study in a discussion format where laymen could ask questions. I didn't always understand Eric's answer. But, I often came to see the proof of his answer as I PRAYed scripture. How to PRAY scripture is the Fifth Path as described in subchapters 1.1 and 1.2. Jesus was the example of this method. He trained the disciples in the same way. He talked to them, prayed for them and answered their questions. 

 

I went through a long period of intense physical suffering which would have been much more difficult without a pastor who is willing to say things that are not popular. The faith and prayers of laymen in that group have brought me into a much more abundant life. We often have opposing views. But as I hear the views of others and PRAY over the relevant scriptures, I grow in the faith. One man reminds us to love. Another reminds us that the scriptures are authoritative. Another points to God's sovereignty. Another says "Lets keep the main thing, the main thing." Each has his place in our group.

  • "24 Let's consider how to provoke one another to love and good works, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25).


The scripture admonishes Christians to gather and provoke each other to love and do good.



Simple Group Bible Study Methods

One excellent way to have a group Bible study is to simply PRAY the scriptures out loud as described in subchapter 1.2.


Here is another simple method to have a Bible Study with another believer or a small group of believers:

a) Ask God to open your minds to understand the scriptures.

b) Choose a scripture. John 1:1 is a good place to start.

c) Read a small portion from the scripture you have chosen. When you read, seek the heart of the passage.

d) Ask four questions:

  • What does the passage say about God?
  • What does the passage say about Man?
  • What does the passage say that we can share with someone else?
  • What does the passage say that we should pray about?

e) Pray


When you make an observation about a passage, it is good to ask this question: Where does it say that? That question will keep you from going beyond what is written.


You may use this group Bible Study method any day of the week, in person or online.



Four Step Bible Study

Chapter 7 presents the Four Step Bible Study.  The Four Step Bible Study moves participants by degrees, in a non-threatening way... to integrate silent prayer and voluntary audible prayer into Group Bible Study. The goal is to learn how to listen prayerfully, read scripture prayerfully and speak prayerfully. Then to live prayerfully... with greater understanding of the scriptures... to walk by the Spirit. The Bible is studied one book at a time, from beginning to end, to prayerfully consider each verse in context. A weekly agenda, Leader's Guide, list of Endorsed Prayers, list of the works of the Holy Spirit and other supplementary materials are all provided for free. Click here to go directly to the introduction to the Four Step Bible Study in chapter 7.



Pray as You Listen

How pervasive is prayer supposed to be in our lives?

  • "Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).
  • " let's offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually" (Hebrews 13:15).
  • "they must always pray, and not give up" (Luke 18:1).
  • "Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2)


You can pray as you listen. Pray while your preacher is preaching, as your Bible study leader teaches and as you listen to others in your discussion group. Pray for them and for yourself. You can pray as others share prayer requests.  If you are the prayer group leader, ask the group to pray silently for each person as they are sharing prayer requests. The last verse tells us to watch in prayer. As others speak, we are to look for opportunities for prayer. Praying as you listen should become a way of life, whether in church or not. Praying as you listen is having fellowship with God. It is abiding in Christ.



Mischa

By the way, I eventually married Mischa. I have never regretted that union. We ate a lot of beans, rice and cornbread for many years because of difficult economic times. I also had years of serious health issues. She stood by me in all of it. I never had any doubt that she would. As of the writing of this book it has been forty-five years since our first date.



Would anyone call your church "a house of prayer"?

Regretfully, my country is rapidly turning against Christ. I can't think of a church that I would call "a house of prayer". To my dismay, spontaneous audible prayer by the laity is often actually prohibited. I have experienced resistance in church to the prayers prayed by the apostles. Prayers like "multiply our love" or "increase our faith".


Jesus said, 

"My house shall be called a house of prayer" 

Matthew 21:13


If you are a pastor, I implore you to prayerfully consider what I am about to say. I have been on my knees praying for you. I am still on my knees praying as I type these words. I implore you... GET ON YOUR KNEES! 


Pray that God draws you so deeply into a life of prayer that you read, think and speak prayerfully. Your life of intimate communication with God should ooze from your sermons. Those who hear you should have no doubt that... SCRITURAL PRAYER  is the essence of intimacy with God. It is the driving force in making disciples! Your life of prayer should be evident as you move from point to point in your sermons. You should be praying audibly for your church throughout your sermons. They learn by example. Christ taught by example. 


You may be a praying pastor. You may be praying silently as you speak to your congregation. If you are, I implore you! Pray audibly for your congregation as you speak. Let them see and hear the life of prayer you are living!


Subchapter 1.1 titled "Learning to Read: Five Paths" immersed you into intimate methods for reading scripture... to PRAY scripture. It is very difficult for laymen to move a church into prayer when its leaders behave as if prayer is something we do before we act. Prayer is something we do as we act. 


Prayer is what we do as God acts, in His power, within us to do His will. We watch in prayer during conversations, looking for God to open a door for the word, so that we can speak the words He gives us through the Holy Spirit.


What were the primary activities of the apostles after they received the Holy Spirit?

  • "But we will continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4).


Prayer and the ministry of the word is what the apostles said they would do.


Prayer and the Word.


Pastor... do you know what the apostles prayed? 


I will ask you again... what prayers did the apostles pray? 


Do you know?


If you don't pray the prayers the apostles prayed, you aren't doing what the apostles did. 


If you don't pray the prayers that the apostles prayed, you can not imitate the apostles. You and all of your congregation are supposed to imitate the apostles.  In 1 Corinthians 11:1, the apostle Paul wrote, "Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ".


If we should imitate them, what did they do? 


They continued "steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4). 


I will ask you again... what prayers did the apostles pray? 


Do you know?


The apostles prayed prayers for

  • Spiritual Communication
  • Spiritual Needs
  • Making Disciples
  • Physical Needs


Again, the apostles continued "steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4).


What is the ministry of the word?


Do you know?


If you think that the ministry of the word is to teach and preach the word, your ministry of the word is incomplete. The ministry of the word includes prayer. 


The disciple making prayers in subchapter 4.4 include prayers regarding the word. The acrostic HOW SO is included in that subchapter to help you remember these critical disciple making prayers. The Endorsed Prayers in subchapter 4.2 titled, "Prayers for Spiritual Communication" also include prayers regarding the ministry of the word.


Even if you are teaching or preaching the word... if you aren't praying the scripturally endorsed prayers in those subchapters, you are not in the ministry of the word as taught by the Holy Spirit.


I prayerfully admonish you to click the link at the top left of this page to open the table of contents. Open chapter 4. There you will find many prayers prayed by the apostles, Christ and prophets.


Pastors, please pray the prayers that Christ, and the apostles prayed. Chapter 4 titled, "Fellowship With God in Prayer" is dedicated to revealing and explaining these prayers which have been endorsed by scripture. 


A Bible teacher who taught the Bible to very large groups of Christians wanted to meet with me. He wanted to disciple me. But, I wondered if he should disciple me... or if I should disciple him. But I said "lets try it". He asked me if I had ever led a person to Christ and trained that person till that person could lead others to Christ. I said yes. He said that he never had done this but wanted to. He didn't seem to hear me when I said that I had  done this before. He wanted me to memorize scripture and train others to do the same. This was a good. I had been memorizing scripture for decades, so this was not new. But every time we met, he never prayed or mentioned prayer. In every meeting I would say "can we pray?". Then I would pray. Eventually I began to tell him at each meeting that he could not disciple others if he didn't pray with them. After several meetings in which I said this, he decided that he didn't want to disciple me anymore. 


I am still typing on my knees. My knees are hurting as I pray and type. Pastors, wake up! 

  • "Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).
  • " let's offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually" (Hebrews 13:15).
  • "they must always pray, and not give up" (Luke 18:1).
  • "Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2)
  • "Pray therefore that the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:38).
  • "praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the saints: 19 on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Good News" (Ephesians 6:18-19).
  • "Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving, 3 praying together for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds, 4 that I may reveal it as I ought to speak" (Colossians 4:2-4).
  • "Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified" (2 Thessalonians 3:1).


If your seminary did not teach you the Endorsed Prayers, they did not teach you how to do battle in the spiritual realm... They did not teach you how to make disciples. They did not teach you how to do the business of our Lord in this world. Instead, they taught you a system of flesh. This is shameful. 


Christianity is not a religion of rules (A3 in the Appendix). Christianity is a spiritual religion. Christians look at me with strange expressions when I say that. 


I prayerfully admonish you to click the link at the top left of this page to open the table of contents. Open chapter 4. There you will find many prayers prayed by the apostles, Christ and prophets. 


Is the Holy Spirit speaking to you? 


  • "Therefore, even as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you will hear his voice, don't harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, in the day of the trial in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers tested me and tried me, and saw my deeds for forty years. 10 Therefore I was displeased with that generation, and said, 'They always err in their heart, but they didn't know my ways.' 11 As I swore in my wrath, 'They will not enter into my rest'" (Hebrews 3:7-11).


My Prayer:

Lord God of Heaven and earth, shake the foundations! Bring us into the walk of intimacy... that we may walk by the Spirit... all for Your glory... and Your glory alone! Amen!

"They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and prayer."
Acts 2:42

Have a question or want to share how this book has impacted your life?