Would you like to lead a session on the importance of prayer for spiritual growth and maturity? See this lesson outline written and posted by John Underhill on Bible.org. The major points of his outline are copied below.
For the full set of notes and to download the lesson in Word or PowerPoint, click here.
Spiritual Growth Study Guide: Prayer
By: John Underhill
I. New Series: What Does It Take To Grow? Prayer!
A. The Goal: That you will commit to the habits necessary for spiritual maturity.
Theme Verse: 2 Pet 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
B. How long does spiritual maturity take?
Maturity is not a nebulous, far off, unattainable goal that you achieve the month before you die. According to Paul maturity is a concrete goal that can be attained in a relatively short span of time. How are you doing?
C. Overview: Seven Habits of Maturing Christians
- 1. In order to grow we need to eat—The Bible
- 2. In order to grow we need to breathe—Prayer
- 3. In order to grow we need good spiritual hygiene—Confession of sin
- 4. In order to grow we need a caring family—Fellowship
- 5. In order to grow we need regular exercise—Service
- 6. In order to grow we need protection—Temptation
- 7. In order to grow we need to give—Stewardship
The Habit of Prayer
“Base your happiness on your hope in Christ. When trials come, endure them patiently; steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer.” Romans 12:12 (Phillips)
II. Where are you on the Prayer Growth Chart?
A. Casual Praying
B. Committed Praying
C. Combat Praying
This is out of Matthew 6:9-15, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer, Jesus said, “This is how you should pray” not what you should pray. He’s giving us an illustration of things we should use in prayer, not this specific prayer to pray.
There are Six Crucial Elements to Effective Prayer
A. The first crucial element to effective prayer is Praise. Begin by expressing your love to God.
- 1. First, you can praise Him for Who He is—His character.
- 2. Secondly, you can praise Him for what He does—His works.
Psalm 100:4 says “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise. Be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”
- Commitment: I will praise God for who He is and what He does.
B. The second crucial element to effective prayer is Purpose: Commit yourself to God’s purpose and will for your life.
Romans 12:2 urges us to “Offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer.”
- Commitment: I will obey God no matter what He asks of me.
C. The third crucial element to effective prayer is Provision: Ask God to provide for your needs.
Prayer is my personal declaration of dependence on God. When I come to Him I’m saying, “I’m totally dependent upon You, God. Not because of what I can work for or what I can earn by my smarts or by my industry, but I am totally dependent on You for my needs.”
- Commitment: I will depend on God’s provision for all of my needs.
D. The fourth crucial element to effective prayer is Pardon: Ask God’s forgiveness for your sins.
There are four steps to forgiveness:
- a. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal every sin.
Psalm 139 says. “Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts. Find out if there is any evil in me.”
- b. Confess each sin specifically.
Proverbs 28:13 “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up. Then God will show mercy to you.”
- c. Make restitution to others when necessary.
Matthew 5:23-24 “When you remember your brother has something against you, go at once to make peace with him, then come back and offer your gift to God.”
- d. By faith accept God’s forgiveness.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
- Commitment: I will confess my sins as God reveals them and accept His forgiveness.
E. The fifth crucial element to effective prayer is Purity: Let go of your grudges and bitterness
1 John 3:21 Dear friends, if our conscience is clear, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22And we will receive whatever we request because we obey him and do the things that please him.
Psalm 66:18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened. 19But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.
- Commitment: I will release those who have sinned against me because God has forgiven me.
F. The sixth crucial element to effective prayer is Protection: Ask for divine protection.
1 Cor 10:13 But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.
- Commitment: I will learn my areas of weakness and depend on God’s protection.
The foundation for effective prayer is a relationship with a loving Heavenly Father. Relationships thrive on communication, and wither without it. God’s listening, are you talking?
Let’s practice the pattern that the Lord Jesus Christ gave us. Let’s pray!