Last week, we prayed for Unity in the Body of Christ and looked to find ways to encourage one another despite different viewpoints. This week, we are looking at our own spiritual ‘attitude’ and how it relates to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Praying for Spiritual Awareness
The prayer for spiritual awareness is one whereby we receive a new understanding and appreciation of all we are and can become in Christ. Paul prayed this for the Christians in Ephesus. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians: 1:18)
In essence, this prayer is a request for an opening of one’s spiritual awareness through the working of the Holy Spirit. This includes realizing who and what we are in Christ, becoming aware of the power of God available to us, being aware of the presence of Christ in our lives, and experiencing the truth of his promises.
It is easy for Christians to forget some of these amazing truths and we need to continually go back to the scriptures to see what God will do in the lives of those who love and obey him. Sadly, many Christians never experience this spiritual awareness and their lives are less than fulfilled.
1) Read Ephesians 1:15-23
2) What are the specific ways God will ‘enlighten’ you? What are the promises He makes to you?
3) Choose one aspect that speaks into your life today and make it your prayer. Ask God to allow this to become a reality. What difference will this make in your life?
4) How can you use this prayer as a way to pray for others? Pray this for those whom God places on your heart.
Last week, we examined praying for the forgiveness of sin: looking at how Christ came to forgive us and how that translates to our forgiveness of others. This week, we continue our prayer journey by looking at the bigger scope of the body of Christ.
Praying for Unity in the Body of Christ
In John 17, Jesus constantly prays for the unity of the church. He states: “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)
Too often the Christian church has divided and split over non essential truths. There are many Christians who will have nothing to do with other believers simply because they belong to another denomination. How this must grieve the heart of God! In fact, our divisiveness may cause some people to reject the gospel of Christ. Jesus prayed that as the world saw unity amongst his followers they would realize that this truly is the work of God, for only God can bring together people who are self centred, divisive and critical, into one caring and supportive family.
1) Read Ephesians 4:1-6
2) Memorize Ephesians 4:3
3) Write or call someone who attends a different church or denomination. Tell them you are praying for them today. Find some way to bring encouragement to them.
4) Include other congregations in your daily prayer. Especially pray for the pastors and leaders that they will be affirmed in their ministry and leadership.
Over the course of the next 7 weeks, we will begin a journey of prayer. We will look at various types of petitionary and intercessory prayer…prayers for oneself and prayers of behalf of other people. The various themes show us ways in which we can enrich our prayer life and help us to pray more effectively through examining scripture and then looking to God to change our hearts.
Praying For the Forgiveness of Sin
In the Lord’s Prayer we ask, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” (Matt 6:12) This petition has a qualification attached to it. We can only ask God to forgive us to the extent that we forgive others.
We forgive because we have been forgiven and because we want to follow the example of Jesus. Paul writes “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Without forgiveness there are barriers that exist and this leads to bitterness, pain and resentment toward one another.
1) Read Psalm 19:7-18
2) Take some time to think about your relationships. Are you aware of any conflict you have with another? Are there people you hold a grudge against? Describe these issues and offer them to God. Make a decision to forgive those who have hurt you and be released from any bitterness within you.
3) As you are able, seek to express this forgiveness, and, where possible, be reconciled.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting our sins against us. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation…God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:19, 21)