She seems an unlikely character for this week’s discussion on prayer. Throughout her story, as recorded in the Gospel of John, prayer is not once mentioned. She is not one of the many who came seeking Jesus for miraculous healing from some incurable illness. As a matter of fact, she didn’t initially recognize Jesus as they conversed together. Yet, her brief interaction with Him speaks volumes about our experience with God as it relates to prayer.
While her entire story from beginning to end is full of valuable lessons for many aspects of life, we will listen to just a small part of her discourse with Divinity. Jesus, in his humanity, sits at Jacob’s well in Sychar. Unable to draw the water himself he asked this woman of Samaria for a drink. In her shock that a Jew would dialogue with a Samaritan, she sought an answer from Him about this break from tradition. It is here where the lesson of prayer begins.
“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
If you only knew who you were talking to…
What would life for us be if we really appreciated who we were conversing with in prayer? Sure, we all readily agree that prayer is talking to God one on one. But the evidence shows that we often pray in a spirit of lowered expectations.
This is not a problem exclusive to our generation. In the days when Jesus walked this earth as man, He addressed this issue in a way to show the higher priorities of life.
“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Luke 12:27-31
Today, we are reminded that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” Ephesians 3:20. We hear Jesus saying to us as He did to the woman of Samaria, “I that speak unto thee am he.”
Our operating in a spirit of low expectations must be replaced with a deeper belief that comprehends the priceless offer of heavenly resources.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”Luke 11:9-10
We must no longer limit our prayers to primarily seeking relief from financial necessities or other common life trials. Realizing more fully Who it is we are speaking to, let’s ask Him to do what no other can do – make an entire change in our hearts and lives. Whether rich or poor let us be content, but let us ask Him to free us from the sins that do so easily overwhelm. Our expectations must be higher.
Whether we’re free or bound, give us excellence in our service to the Kingdom of God. Help us to rise above selfish goals of success that feed our egos and allow us to be those at the end of time who hear the pronouncement from the King,
“Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:34-26, 40.
Our expectations must be higher.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does prayer mean to you? (Don’t use the answer “speaking to God”)
- What, if any, is the difference in the life of someone who spends time in prayer compared to someone who rarely does?
- Is it possible to be a faithful Christian without spending much time in prayer? Why yes or no? (Personal reflection question) Are you a faithful Christian?
- What does it mean in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 to “pray without ceasing” and why should we do that?
- If you agree that there is such a thing as selfish prayers, how would you describe an unselfish prayer?
- Is it true that the “better” we are as Christians the more likely our prayers will be answered? Why yes or no?
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: I should do all in my power to answer my own prayers. Explain your answer.
We close this week with the words of Jesus which speak of the foundation and life transformative power of prayer:
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” John 15:5-8 The Message
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!