Introduction: Have you heard some complain about the prayers of others? One prominent Christian minister prays that God will help him to find a good parking place, and he is criticized by another who is praying that God will heal his mother of breast cancer. What if the mother dies and the minister snags a great spot? Has God been distracted over minor matters? This kind of criticism arises from the false idea that our God has limited power. If we distract Him with minor matters, He cannot properly attend to life and death matters. This is nonsense. God’s power is unlimited. Let’s dig into our study of the Bible and expand our understanding of God’s power and our prayers!

  1. The Supernatural

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-4. What is the definition of a super hero? (The entertainment industry has long promoted people who have powers beyond those possible for humans. Think Superman – if you are old enough!)

      1. Does this text tell us that we are super heroes? (Yes! It tells us that we have “weapons” that go beyond “the flesh.” That means we have access to super powers.)

      2. What does it mean to “destroy strongholds?” Aren’t we called to build up and not destroy? (A “stronghold” is a fortified city. Our super powers can defeat very strong opposition.)

    2. Read 2 Corinthians 10:5. On what level do our superpowers work? (The mind!)

      1. A famous movie featuring “the force” has a sequence where a person wielding the force says something like this to enemy soldiers, “You did not see us, we are free to pass by.” Is that the kind of thing this text is talking about when it refers to taking “every thought captive?”

    3. Read 1 John 5:14-15. What is the guiding factor in the use of our superpower? (God’s will. We ask for things that are consistent with the will of God. If we do that, He hears us, and “we have the requests that we have asked of Him.”)

    4. Read Ephesians 6:10-12. Super heroes, what kind of opponent do we face? (The devil – Satan.)

      1. Read verse 11 carefully. Do we literally face Satan? (The text says that we face his “schemes.” Satan is not like God, he is not omnipresent. But, he designed the manual for the fallen angels (see Revelation 12:9). Two weeks ago we looked at the story of the demoniac and the pigs ( Matthew 8:28ff). The demons didn’t seem very bright in that story. Those guys need a manual.)

    5. Focus again on Ephesians 6:12. Who is our real enemy? Is this the reason why we need super powers?

      1. If we fight the wrong enemy, is that foolish?

      2. Imagine a battle where you have a great uniform and the most modern weapons. You are lined up where there is no fighting. What good are you to your side?

      3. Worse, what if you turned your back on the battle and started fighting with your own soldiers?

  2. Our Phone Booth

    1. Today’s entertainment super heroes seem to be able to automatically summon their super powers. When I was young, Superman had to enter a phone booth to change into his clothes that were essential to his super powers.  If you are young you may ask, what is a “phone booth?”  Read Ephesians 6:13. Must we put on super clothes, “the whole armor of God?”

      1. If so, what is that? ( Ephesians 6:14-17 recounts certain parts of the armor and describes what they represent. This week we are going to focus on prayer.)

    2. Read Ephesians 6:18. What is the overall source of your super power? (“The Spirit.” This is a reference to the Holy Spirit.”)

      1. What does it mean to pray “in the Spirit?” Is this a special kind of prayer? Or, is it an ordinary prayer?

    3. To help form a correct answer to the prior question, let’s read a couple of texts. Read Ephesians 5:18 and Romans 8:26-27. After reading these texts, can you imagine making any prayer without the Holy Spirit? (No! The Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.)

      1. Romans 8:26 says the Holy Spirit helps us to understand what to pray. Romans 8:27 says that the Holy Spirit “intercedes” for us in our prayers. Are these issues in your prayer life?

    4. Let’s go back to Ephesians 6:18. What do you think it means to be “praying at all times in the Spirit?” Does that mean that we are to be constantly praying? Or, does that mean that when we pray we are to pray in the Spirit? (My answer is a practical one. Since prayer in the Spirit is our “phone booth,” meaning it unlocks our super powers, why not be ready with our superpower all the time? Why not have more, rather than less, power?)

  3. Praying For Others

    1. Read Ephesians 6:18 again, but this time focus on the last phrase “making supplication for all the saints.” Consider your prayers. Do you primarily pray for yourself and your needs?

    2. Read Ephesians 6:19-20. The difference between the prayers mentioned in the introduction, other than relative importance, is that one benefitted the person and the other benefitted the mother. This prayer request is for Paul. If you were in Paul’s place (prison), would this be your prayer request? (My request would be “Pray that I will be released!”)                                

      1. What is Paul’s prayer request? (That he would be able to boldly proclaim the gospel.)

      2. Is Paul’s prayer for himself? (Not really. It is a prayer about advancing the gospel.)

    3. Read Daniel 2:17-18. For whose benefit is this prayer? (Daniel and his friends. They do not want to be destroyed.)

    4. As you consider these texts, what is your conclusion about praying for others versus yourself? (Recall that Romans 8:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit will lead us to the topics of our prayer. Daniel shows that we can certainly pray for ourselves. The emphasis in Ephesians 6 is on prayers for others. Even when Paul would be expected to pray for his release, he instead prays that he will be better equipped to share the gospel under his current conditions.)

  4. Delay

    1. Read Daniel 10:12-13. This tells us that Daniel’s “words have been heard” in heaven. Gabriel, an angel, brings a delayed response. Why is the response delayed? (It is delayed by other matters, perhaps due to an evil power because the word “withstood” is used, making it appear that Gabriel was being resisted by evil.)

    2. Read John 11:3-4. What is Jesus’ goal in this situation? (To bring glory to God.)

    3. Read John 11:6 and John 11:21. You know this story about the resurrection of Lazarus. Why did Jesus delay? Why did He allow the sisters’ hearts to be broken? (Because of the greater good, the greater miracle, the greater glory of God.)

    4. As you consider the Daniel and John texts that we read in this section, are we assured that God will act promptly on our requests?

      1. If not, what are your views on the known causes of delay?                

    5. Friend, you have the ability to be a super hero! Will you take regular advantage of your superpower? Will you ask the Holy Spirit to sharpen your superpower? Will you help others with your superpower? Why not decide right now to become an active super hero?

  5. Next week: Spirit-Empowered Witnessing.