Our May Bible Study continued to focus on Prayer and its meaning. Led by our Minister, we started by considering our responses to three passages from Luke’s Gospel:
1. Luke 4, 1-13
The complete silence of the wilderness encourages self-examination, ie working out who we are and what God wants us to do with our lives. This is the essence of prayer: to listen to God and try to understand what God wants us to be and do.
The three temptations echo the major strands in the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus was led to ponder on his future role, ie whether it was to:
- Vanquish the Romans and establish Israel as the supreme nation.
- Encourage Israel to stand apart from the other nations, and keep God’s purposes for itself.
- Show how the whole world might be served in love and self-sacrifice. Isaiah had led the way in extolling this view, but it was an unpopular, minority choice.
Jesus chose this last way of suffering service, and the church has the same struggle to determine its purpose. We wondered what our church is saying to those outside it?
2. Luke 9, 18-27
In this passage Jesus and the disciples go into the silence of the mountains and here the emphasis is on the disciples working out who Jesus is. Peter recognises that Jesus is the Messiah (= King) – but what kind of King? Jesus’ response is that it is for every one of us to take up our cross, ie to work for the Kingdom.
3. Luke 22, 24-26
Jesus points out that we are not here to worry about who is the greatest; we are here to follow his example, which was to serve others.
Praying for Others
We are encouraged to pray for each other that we may remain faithful to this calling; and when we fail we can be restored through the prayers of others. We wondered what we are doing when we pray for others: are we trying to persuade, inform, cooperate with, or support God? Although we agreed that persuading or informing God were not helpful ways to think of prayer, we felt that intercessionary prayer helped to focus our thoughts on those in need, and would often encourage us to do something practical about the situation. Sharing a situation with others when we pray together is also often helpful.
The evening ended with a time of prayer, during which we moved around the room to different prayer stations focussing on Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Intercession.