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 CHALLENGE OF RECIPROCITY

Last week we looked at the importance of reciprocity as found in 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.)

After concluding the sample prayer, Jesus confirms with Matthew 6:14 that the Lord to whom one should pray will forgive us as we forgive others.

Then comes the “but” or what I’m referring to as the challenge of reciprocity found in Matthew 6:15.

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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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NAVIGATING LIFE

navigation

When was the last time you used a compass for navigating?

Are you someone who is naturally gifted at navigating without the use of an external compass?

I have never been in a situation where a compass was critical for navigating.

Compass use for me has been more recreational than a necessity.

Navigating streets and trails is one thing.

  • What about navigating life in general?
  • How do you know you are on the correct path for your life?
  • Who is leading you in navigating life?
  • What does Matthew 6:13 share about navigating life?
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SOMETHING OWED

forgiveness

What does a picture of two children hugging have to do with the phrase “something owed”?

  • Did you notice the expression of the visible face is sad?

The phrase “something owed,” is frequently used to define a debt of some kind.

It is common to connect the phrase “something owed” with financial debts.

  • Do you agree that the “something owed” in the picture above is likely not financial?

We are going to study what Matthew 6:12 has to say about a broader concept of “something owed”.

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SUPPLIES FOR BREADMAKING

daily bread

What is your favorite bread?

Have you ever made that bread yourself?

Have you ever grown the ingredients needed to make that bread for yourself?

If you’re not into bread for some reason, what do you use instead?

What are the supplies you need for your “breadmaking”?

Could “supplies for breadmaking” refer to things other than food provisions?

Clothing? Shelter? What else?

What does this have to do with Matthew 6:11?

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KINGDOM

kingdom

What type of kingdom do you imagine could develop if the castle above was more than a sandcastle?

The dog looks like a giant horse in this kingdom so maybe this is a kingdom for people of small stature?

Have you ever built a sandcastle kingdom?

How long did it take you to build your sandcastle kingdom?

Was your sandcastle kingdom as detailed or as large as the one above?

Why or why not?

What does a sandcastle kingdom have to do with Matthew 6:10?

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THE DANGER OF MANY WORDS

Depending on who I am with and what my role is I may be a quiet person of few words or someone who always contributes to the discussion.

Often, the larger the group I am in, the quieter I will be and the smaller and more comfortable I am with the people around, the more talkative I may become.

  • How about you?
  • Are you a person of many or few words?
  • What situations encourage or discourage you to talk freely?
  • What about when you pray?
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