Red Letter Prayers

I hope this new series - Red Letter Prayers encourages your prayer life.  We at FBC Waco have begun offering take home spiritual formation guides to accompany each Sunday morning message. Jamie McCallum, our Associate Pastor for Congregational Life, is writing them for us. Enjoy.

Walking with Christ: A Guide for Weekly Scripture Reading and Prayer

What is this?

We are busy people. Our days are jam-packed with noise, demands, and obligations. Most of us long to be closer to Christ and to each other, but we frankly don’t know where to start. We want our families to spend quality time praying and reading Scripture together, but our days are hectic and evening comes before we’re ready.  As a church staff, we love to see the people of God connecting with the heart of God.  And, thus, we will provide you a simple tool to carry home each Sunday.  This guide will help you slow down, remember the message you heard, and engage the biblical texts in a deeper way.  It will remind you to pray and reflect on God’s presence in your life each day. And all the while, you will be on this journey with others in the FBC family!  Together we can strive to be a people who not only hear God’s word but allow it to take root and transform our lives every single day. 

What do I do with it?

Each week the guide will be divided into three points.  You can do all three in one sitting or work through one a day throughout the week. The guides can be used for personal reflection or as a tool to use with your family or friends around the dinner table or before bed.  There will be room to take notes and record your own thoughts and reflections.  Since you will receive a new sheet each week, you are encouraged to purchase a notebook so you can keep the materials in one place. Each session will conclude with a children’s challenge.  This will give parents several ideas to help bring the passage to life for the whole family. Use this in whichever way you feel it will be most effective in your life and in the lives of your family and/or friends. 

August 5-11, 2012

John 17:20-24

To begin each exercise, spend a moment in prayer, quieting your mind and asking God to speak through God’s Word. Read John 17:20-24 slowly and as many times as you need to, in order to really hear what is being said.

1. John 17 allows us to overhear Jesus’ final request before his arrest. There is something significant about “finals.” When long-time television hosts retire they usually have a final show with a farewell speech.  When someone knows their time on earth is almost done, they often offer a final word to loved ones. If you had a final prayer to offer on behalf of your loved ones or for this world what might your prayer include?

What does it mean that Jesus’ final prayer on earth was a prayer for us?

Today, what would it look like for your life to serve as at least part of the Father’s answer to Christ’s final prayer?

2. In this passage, Jesus is speaking to God about us.  We are not really invited into the conversation except as eavesdroppers.  Thus, it seems that what Jesus asks the Father is not something we can make happen on our own initiative.  We can simply be open to God’s movement in our lives. When believers comes together in one accord, and when the light flows from us and touches a hurting world we must remember that we are not the ones doing this. God is. We are simply called to let God reign fully so God can move freely in and through us.  

How do you feel when someone prays for you?

How does the fact that Jesus spent some of his last moments praying for us and not with us challenge you in your pursuit of holiness today?

3. All of Jesus’ final requests are still waiting for fulfillment. The people of God do not yet live as one. Our sins, fears, and failures keep us from really being with the Father as the Son was with the Father. When the world looks at us, more times than not, they do not think twice about a loving God who sent himself to be with them. And for all of us who are still waiting for that day when God’s Kingdom will come in full, we have yet to really see the glory of Christ but in a tiny glimpse here and there.  Jesus prayed a prayer that was not immediately fulfilled. Jesus prayed a prayer that two thousand years later has yet to be fulfilled. And yet, Jesus prayed a prayer.

What prayers have you prayed again and again that remain unfulfilled? 

How does Jesus’ final prayer give you hope to pray your prayer once again?

Children’s Challenge:

·         Share with your children the ways you pray for them when they are not listening.  Explain why you ask God for these things. 

·         Tell your child about a time someone prayed for you and how it made you feel.  Ask your child if you can pray for him or her, and then ask your child how it feels to have someone pray for you.

Explain to them that Jesus prayed specifically for them in this passage, and that he still prays for them today.

·         Ask your child, “If you could ask for anything, what would you ask God for?” Help him or her turn this longing into a prayer and discuss how we continue praying even when the answer doesn’t seem to come.

·         Let your child know about something you have prayed for, for a long time. Explain how Jesus’ prayer gives you hope to keep praying each day.

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