EFFECTIVENESS IN PRAYER

squirrel effectiveness

Several years ago, my husband hung a large birdfeed er from a tree limb in our yard.

We were eager to see what birds would find their way to this bountiful buffet of seeds.

Yes, we got birds, but we also got squirrels.

These squirrels, and possibly one specific rodent, were quite effective at getting seed from the feeder even though it had a rounded dome on top that was meant to deter them.

They were quick to figure out that if they simply chewed through the wire that the feeder was hanging on it would drop to the ground causing the domed lid to come off and spill all the seed on the ground.

My husband even hung the feeder with a stainless-steel cable that they chewed through before trying an 6- gauge copper wire.

This last wire was looking good for a while. But then we noticed that a squirrel was trying to chew through it too.

What does the effective tenacity of these squirrels have to do with effectiveness in prayer as discussed in James 5:16?

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What Does it Take to Succeed in Prayer?

Chickadee

Have you ever watched a chickadee learn to land on a feeder?

One morning when I looked out our window to check the status of our bird feeder, I had the opportunity to see baby chickadees attempting to master this exact skill.

They would sit on the tree branch nearby and ruffle their feathers several times before making each attempt to land on the feeder.

Mostly that day they kept missing the mark, skidding, and fluttering down to the ground.

But then, after a moment to compose themselves, they would swoop back up to the tree branch and try again.

Yes, at times they would miss the tree branch too!

I marveled at their tenacity and resilience to keep trying.

Even more amazing, by the next morning these tiny creatures had mastered this new skill.

It was astonishing to see them zipping from branch to feeder to branch to ground and back again looking like total experts at what just the day before was filled with so much failure.

What can we learn from the example of the chickadees above and Matthew 21:22 to succeed in prayer?

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THE IMPORTANCE OF RECIPROCITY

reciprocity

At the end of June 2021, we began a series about prayer starting with the followers of Jesus asking to be taught how to pray. (See Teach us to….)

We then turned our attention to Matthew 6:5-13, taking a verse per week of Jesus’ instruction, first on how not to pray, that is then followed with an example of how to pray.

Today we turn our attention to Matthew 6:14 where Jesus elaborates on one of the petitions within the sample prayer we refer to as the Lord’s prayer. (See Matthew 6:12.)

We will learn a surprising principle of the importance of reciprocity applied to forgiveness.

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SHINE

sunrise

What is the definition of shine?

Consider the following possibilities found at Merriam-Webster.com:

1 : to emit rays of light

2 : to be bright by reflection of light

3a : to be eminent, conspicuous, or distinguished  

b : to perform extremely well

4 : to have a bright glowing appearance

5 : to be conspicuously evident or clear

What is the opposite of shine?

Consider the following possibilities found at Merriam-Webster.com:

1 : to make dark

2 : to make less clear : obscure the financial crisis darkened the future of the company

3 : taint, tarnish darkened his reputation

4 : to cast a gloom over

5 : to make of darker color

  • How often have you gotten up to see a sunrise begin to shine?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • How would you feel if you got up expecting to see the sunshine and it was dark instead?

Come explore what the Lord is communicating to us in Joel 3:15  about the sun, moon and stars ceasing to shine.

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DECISION

decision
  • What is your process when making a decision?
  • Are you one who spends hours researching various points of view before making a decision?
  • Or are you one who makes a quick decision based on your gut feeling?
  • Perhaps you rely on others to make a decision for you?
  • What other ways have you used to make a decision?

Most likely your process depends on what the issue is that a decision needs to be made about.

Thus, you may incorporate all the processes above and others for making a decision.

  • Regardless of the process you have used, have you ever made a bade decision?
  • When is a decision, good or bad, irreversible?
  • What is significant about the phrase ‘Valley of Decision’ found in Joel 3:14?
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OVERFLOW

grape press
  • What does it mean when we say something has an overflow?

Whether it be a cup of water or a grape press as pictured above if we describe something has an overflow it typically means filled past an item’s capacity.

Sometimes, this is seen as a positive situation but at other times it is decidedly negative.

  • What examples can you think of where an overflow is positive?
  • What examples can you think of where an overflow is negative?
  • Which meaning does Joel 3:13 use for the word overflow?
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SPEECH

speech
  • Is there a speech you have heard that you still remember even though it was years ago?
  • Why did that speech impact you so significantly?
  • Do you remember who delivered the speech or do you just remember the impact of their words?
  • Or maybe the words that impacted you were not part of a formal speech but  written in a book or letter?
  • Whose speech, whether spoken or written, do you place high value on today?
  • Why?
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OVERWHELMED

When have you felt overwhelmed?

What triggered the feeling of being overwhelmed?

  • An overpacked work schedule?
  • Too many social engagements?
  • Grieving the loss of a loved one?
  • Losing a job?
  • A personal health crisis?
  • Global challenges such as Covid-19, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.?
  • A combination of any of the above?

Any of the above and more can trigger feelings of being overwhelmed even in the most steadfast personalities.

Now have you ever considered how you might react if you saw a mighty heavenly army coming towards you?

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