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Teach Us To Pray

• Greg Boyd

What is the purpose of petitionary prayer? In this sermon, Greg seeks to answer this question by showing how prayer is a means of partnering with God to join our will with God’s.

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There are many different kinds of prayer. Some of them include:

  • Practicing the presence of God
  • Imaginative prayer
  • Conversational prayer
  • Petitionary/intercessory prayer

The Lord’s Prayer, or The “Our Father,” begins with praise – “hallowed be your name,” which basically means to keep God’s character distinct. The rest of The Lord’s Prayer, in its essence, is petitionary. Many struggle with petitionary prayer because we have been taught that prayer does not change God, but it changes us. However, the Bible is clear in that petitionary prayer actually has an impact upon what occurs in this world. It makes a different in the reality of what transpires.

Why does God so leverage so much on prayer? First, God is relational and does not want to monopolize what occurs. He gives say-so to his human partners and God’s hope is that we will choose to bring our say-so in line with God’s will. We are co-workers, who are called to bring alongside our will with his. To the degree that our say-so is in line with his, things transgress harmoniously.

Secondly, God creates out of love for the sake of expanding that love. Loving relationships are all about communication. If relationships are the point of God’s creation, then it makes sense that he would hard-wire into the cosmos dependence upon interpersonal communication between God and humans.

Greg asks two questions for us to reflect on:

  • Have you been partnering God to the extent that God wants to partner with you?
  • How are you integrating prayer into your relationships?
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Topics: Prayer, Presence of God, Spiritual Warfare

Sermon Series: When You Pray

Downloads & Resources

Audio File
Study guide
Group Study Guide
The MuseCast: January 4

Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 6:7-10

    “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.

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9 thoughts on “Teach Us To Pray

  1. Joann says:

    My prayer life is submitting my life to God. When I pray either for my self or others, I ask for what I need, not what I want. And once a person is on my prayer list, I will pray for them the rest of their or my life. Even though the original request has past, that doesn’t mean they don’t need God in their life. I also pray whenever I hear a siren. “Please be with them (police/firefighters/paramedics) and the people they serve.”

    1. Lorie says:

      I ask our Lord for both, what I want and what I need; most of my prayers indeed include others, but I believe it’s important to pray, not monitor. He takes care of the rest.

  2. Susan says:

    A wonderful sermon on prayer, inspiring! Thank you! I too walk my dog and pray most days.
    One thing I do want to open up to prayer and discussion is a comment Greg made, I think,
    Greg referred to God as He or She?
    Scripture is clear here. God is a male. Jesus said if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. Jesus was born a male child. We call God Father.
    We, I, all of God’s people need to be molded by God, remade. Even when it doesn’t fit the culture we live in. We want to learn to think God’s thoughts after Him. We don’t want to remake God into our image; we want to be made in His.

    God made male and female and each one of us are dearly loved by God, but different. He made the destination between male and female and it brings Him glory.

    We don’t need to tamper with God’s ways, but, we do need to grow into them.

    Love in Christ,

    1. Emily says:

      Hi Susan,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! If you’d like to hear more about Greg’s thoughts on God as mother, he goes into detail here. Hope that helps!
      Peace to you —Emily from the Communications Team

      1. Susan says:

        Yes, thank you, that does help.
        “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.”
        I misunderstood what Greg was saying then. Because, yes, God does present himself with a mother’s love in parts of scripture as well as a father’s love.
        I thought Greg was perhaps bowing to our culture and making God gender neutral.
        However, what I gathered from reading the expanded summary of the sermon you linked, was that God meets us where He knows we need it, and since He is Love, He can love us with the love of a mother or a father.
        But, Greg is not saying God can be a male or a female. He is teaching us that God can love us with the love of a mother and a father for God is Love.
        Am I correct in this?

      2. Susan says:

        “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prizefor which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
        As Christians, we can’t change the past. We trust God though that are past has led us to Christ, and we move forward laying hold on Christ. We are new creatures in Christ!

      3. Susan says:

        There are mysteries with God that are just to hard to understand.
        Here is a quote from a wonderful saint who has taught me so much about what it means to belong to Christ.
        God bless you all in your ministry and growth in grace.

        “Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. The love of God is of a different nature altogether. It does not hate tragedy. It never denies reality. It stands in the very teeth of suffering. The love of God did not protect His own Son. The cross was the proof of His love – that He gave that Son, that He let Him go to Calvary’s cross, though “legions of angels” might have rescued Him. He will not necessarily protect us – not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.”
        Elisabeth Elliot

      4. Susan says:

        One more quote by Elisabeth Elliot -a woman who knew the grace of God to love her “enemies”.

        “We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.”
        Elisabeth Elliot

  3. Susan says:

    “And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
    Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”
    We are all growing and getting to know God more and more. He is awesome, and we are blessed!
    May His Church grow and become His beautiful bride!

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