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Welcome to our new study, Sweet Hour of Prayer: Learning to Pray from the People of Scripture!

“Lord, teach us to pray,” the disciples implored Jesus. Sometimes, no matter how close we are to Christ, we can feel unsure and awkward in prayer. Am I doing it right? Using the correct words? Asking within God’s will?

Over the next several weeks we’ll take a look at the topic of prayer through the example left to us by our brothers and sisters from the Old and New Testament. As we study it is my hope that your “hour of prayer” will become sweeter and sweeter.

You may wish to review my philosophy of Bible study at the “Bible studies” tab at the top of this page. My studies are designed to teach you how to study the Bible for yourself, which is why I don’t provide answers to the questions in the lessons.

My studies are also designed to be very flexible. You may answer all, any, or none of the questions in each lesson. All of my studies are self paced, so take as long or as short of a time in the passage and with the questions as you like. If, as you’re studying the text, the Holy Spirit leads you to focus on an aspect of the passage I haven’t addressed in the questions, awesome! Park yourself there and learn what He wants you to learn. These lessons are meant to be a tool for you to use as you see fit during your personal study time, not a school project where points are taken off if you don’t complete it the way the teacher wants.

As with all of my studies and articles, I use hyperlinks liberallyThe main Scripture for each lesson will be linked at the beginning of the lesson, and there will be additional links in the lesson questions. Whenever you see a word in red, click on it, and it will take you to a Scripture, article, or other resource that will help as you study.


Introduction to Sweet Hour of Prayer

Part of my philosophy of Bible study is that our main “diet” should be systematic, expositional study of the text. In other words: pick a book of the Bible, start at the beginning, and study it through to the end. Then, pick another book and start again. This method of studying helps us understand passages in their context and correctly apply them to our lives, and helps us avoid eisegesis, taking passages out of context, and incorrectly applying them.

However, there is a place for the study of a biblical topic such as peace, sin, the family, God’s wrath, or biblical womanhood. For example: if you’re struggling to trust God because of a sudden circumstance in your life, you don’t have time to study through every book of the Bible to learn what the Bible says about trusting God. You may need to spend some time in focused study on passages from various books that deal specifically with the topic of trusting God, and that’s OK. My goal with this study is not only that you learn what the Bible has to say about the topic of prayer, but also to demonstrate how to do a topical study properly so you can do topical studies on your own when the need arises.

Normally, in the introductory lesson to my studies, we take a look at the author of the book of the Bible we’re studying, the audience he wrote it to, the historical setting of the book, and other “backstory” issues. But because this is a topical study, and we’ll be examining passages from various books of the Bible, we’ll have to briefly address those issues as needed in each lesson.

So in the introduction to this study, I’d like to address two items in your “backstory.”

Salvation

If you’re not saved, this study isn’t going to be very helpful to you, because prayer is about talking to Someone we are in right relationship with, and if you aren’t saved, you aren’t in right relationship with God.

This week, before we tackle prayer, I’d like everyone – even if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re saved – to work through the Scriptures in my article Basic Training: The Gospel. Do you understand the biblical gospel? Have you truly repented of your sin and trusted Christ as Savior? Spend some time alone with God examining your heart and life against these Scriptures. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re genuinely saved, I would encourage you to put this study aside and work through my study Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up first. You can’t approach God in prayer if you don’t belong to God.

Expectations and Presuppositions

What do you expect out of this study? What kinds of ideas or preconceived notions are you carrying into this study? Take some time to answer the following questions.

1. When you hear the word “prayer,” what do you think of?

2. Without looking in your Bible, jot down five or ten things you think the Bible teaches about prayer.

3. What does your church teach about prayer? Does your church hold regular prayer meetings? Is there someone in your church that you look up to as a good example of how to pray?

4. What Scriptures come to mind when you think about prayer?

5. Why are you interested in a study about prayer, and what do you hope to get out of this study?

6. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your prayer life? What are some things you’d like to improve about your prayer life?

Take some time in prayer this week to begin preparing your heart for this study. If there’s a specific issue you struggle with when it comes to prayer, ask God to teach you the truth of His Word about that issue and strengthen your prayer life in that area. Write down your prayer and review it when the study is over to see how God answered you through the study of His Word. I’m excited to have you join me in this journey of discovering what God’s Word has to say about prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight:
This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise
To seize the everlasting prize;
And shout, while passing through the air,
Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!
William Walford 1845