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Words & Actions, Week 6 - Daily Steps

Posted by Kim Stiver on

Welcome to Daily Steps
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.

Matthew 6:9-13 "This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’"

The Lord’s Prayer: A Divine Guide to Lasting Transformation

For centuries, scientists all over the world have searched for evidence that prayer produces a measurable effect in the lives of people who regularly practice it. Research focusing on the power of prayer has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, according to Dr. David Larson, who is president of the National Institute for Healthcare Research. In his clinical work, Dr. Larson has conducted numerous experiments and studies on the efficacy of prayer among patients and their loved ones. His research reveals that prayer has a tremendous impact on a patient’s likelihood of recovery from virtually any illness or injury. Furthermore, science has shown us that people who pray have higher levels of antibodies in their blood to fight viruses, lower stress hormones, and heightened endurance for pain. Studies by neuroscientists have proven that the more prayer is practiced, the more the brain is actually sculpted and improved, similar to the way a bodybuilder works to sculpt his muscles. As we focus on the mind of Christ and commune with God, our brains become more and more disciplined to be attentive, focused, and even compassionate. Conversely, there’s credible evidence that people who do not practice prayer are passively training their brains to gradually become more and more distracted, selfish, and impatient.

Scholars, missionaries, pastors, great authors, and even scientists throughout the ages have all offered incredible theories about prayer and Jesus’ reasons for encouraging it. The truth is that we cannot fully comprehend it and what actually happens when we do it any more than we can fully grasp God Himself. One thing about prayer is fundamentally clear — Jesus needed prayer and practiced it Himself, and He gives us a step-by-step guide on how to go about it in Matthew 6:9-13. Rather than a magical incantation or an ornate ritual, the prayer He models for us is strikingly simple, but also incredibly comprehensive when followed as a guide on a daily, even hourly, basis. When we follow Jesus’ lead in connecting directly with God through prayer, we will find that our distractions, hesitations, and awkwardness melt away in a manner of weeks with routine practice. Spending time in quiet reflection, listening, meditation, worship, and conversation with our Heavenly Father will become something we crave like the air we breathe, rather than a chore we dread or a commandment we feel obligated to fulfill. Prayer eventually becomes what human conversations with God were originally designed to be before sin even entered the world — a refreshing, intimate stroll in the garden with the Creator of the universe Himself.

When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, His aim was to help them experience what God originally intended — transformation, connection, and renewal of our hearts, minds, and spirits on a continuous basis. His focus was not on the words… not about the routine… and certainly not about appearing to be religious. Pete Greig, in his eight-week study on the Lord’s prayer, summarizes the guide that Jesus modeled for us: 

The Lord’s Prayer is also a map that helps us to pray our own prayers from the heart. When Jesus said, ‘this then is how you should pray,’ he was telling his disciples to use it more as a guide than a destination.

Many people find prayer difficult. We get distracted and struggle to know what to say. But praying the Lord’s Prayer is a simple answer to these problems.

Just its first two words, “Our Father” prompt us to pause and pray for our families. “Hallowed be your name” is an invitation to worship. “Let your Kingdom come” is an opportunity to request help for the particular people, places, and situations on our hearts. “Give us this day our daily bread” invites us to pray about our most practical needs. “Forgive us our sins” is a challenge to name the ways in which we have sinned.

Prayed in this way, each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer becomes an invitation to embark upon our own personal adventures of adoration, petition, intercession, confession, and spiritual warfare.

One of the most famous prayer devotees was a monk called Brother Lawrence who lived in the 1600s. Although he spent a large portion of his time tending the garden, washing dishes, or performing maintenance on the monastery’s buildings and grounds, he made it his daily passion to pray unceasingly while he worked. As a result, he became convinced that when we do everything “wholly for the love of Him” by inviting God into every moment, we can find sustaining peace, happiness, and contentment in everyday life. “It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God,” he said. “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”

In the coming week, as you contemplate the Lord’s prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to refresh your spiritual eyes to read it with renewed energy and anticipation of how God’s presence will refresh, transform, and sustain you.

Daily Bible Readings

This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask the Holy Spirit to make each of the passages deeply personal and applicable to you. (NOTE: We suggest that you read each of these passages in several different versions of the Bible, including at least one paraphrase version.) As you contemplate these passages, make time to pray before and after you read them. Write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your soul. 

Monday — Read Matthew 6:5-15 in at least three different translations of the Bible. Take the time to contemplate each of the lines of the prayer and how you can follow them as a guideline for praying in your own words about specific things happening in your life right now. If the Holy Spirit is leading you to learn more about prayer, you might want to check out this handout or go even further with a self-guided video Bible study from Pete Greig. (Fill out this form to get free access to RightNow Media through Cornerstone Fellowship.)

Tuesday — Read John 15:1-8 and Ephesians 3:20-21. Oswald Chambers once said of prayer, “We hear it said that a person’s life will suffer if he doesn’t pray, but I question that. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer.” How have you seen prayer nourish the work of Jesus in you? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you catch a glimpse of what God might want to do in your life through the power of Jesus at work in your heart. Journal about what that might mean for you and how it should impact your prayer time.

Wednesday — Read Psalm 42:1-2. Has there ever been a time when you longed for a gift from God more than you longed for Him? Confess that to God and ask Him to fill your heart and mind with His presence. 

Thursday — Read James 1:17. How have you doubted God’s desire to give you good gifts? Pray and ask God to help you recall a time when you didn’t realize something that felt uncomfortable at the time when it was actually a good gift from your Heavenly Father.

Friday—  Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and then visit this page for a list of ideas on how to get in the habit of praying without ceasing or what Brother Lawrence called “practicing the presence of God." Prayerfully consider them and then ask God to reveal to you which ones He wants you to try in the weeks ahead. To go even further, read Brother Lawrence’s short book FOR FREE with this PDF from ChurchLeaders.com.
 

TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to be a part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth.

Want to Go Even Further? 
Check out our companion study guide to use with your community group, neighbors, or family members! Each week includes thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study based on this week's sermon topic. 
STUDY GUIDE

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