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How Does Group Prayer Differ from Personal Prayer?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
April 11, 2024 5:20 pm

How Does Group Prayer Differ from Personal Prayer?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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April 11, 2024 5:20 pm

Episode 1464 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

CoreChristianity.com

  1. Can a true Christian live in habitual sin?   2. How do I not picture Jesus while I'm praying?   3. How does group prayer differ from personal prayer?   4. What kinds of things can I do to fight temptations and evil thoughts?     Today’s Offer: Praying with Jesus   Want to partner with us in our work here at Core Christianity? Consider becoming a member of the Inner Core.   View our latest special offers here or call 1-833-THE-CORE (833-843-2673) to request them by phone.

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How does group prayer differ from personal prayer? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. I'm Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. If you get our voicemail system, feel free to leave your voicemail.

Let us know where you're calling from and tell us your name. You can also post your question on one of our social media sites. And of course, you can always email us at questionsatcorechristianity.com. First up today, wanted to share something nice. It just came in an email from one of our listeners who's actually a donor to CORE Christianity. And Adriel, you want to share what they wrote?

Sure. This says, Hi, Adriel and Bill. You two are a blessing. And I really hope you know and believe that deep down in your heart. In your soul.

Smiley face emoji. We the audience love you both and are so blessed to have you as a resource. I don't usually catch your live stream, but I always manage to work an episode or two or many into my daily or nightly routine. Thank you. Love you, my brothers in Christ. Hi and many thanks also to everyone who makes CORE Christianity run. That is super encouraging and I'm glad that this person realizes that it does take a whole team. And we do have just a wonderful team in the studio that works really hard to make CORE Christianity run.

I mean, what a blessing. And I just I love to reiterate any time people ask, you know, man, you know, what all goes into the show? I always say every single broadcast, we pray. We stop as a team before the broadcast and we pray together for the filling of the Holy Spirit. And we pray for wisdom and we pray for you. The audience that the Lord would work in your life and that God would use his word.

I mean, I take this very seriously. I do it with fear and trembling, saying, Lord, help me to represent you well. And please, Lord, draw people to yourself, strengthen their faith, their relationship with you, not through me, but through your word, through your holy word. And so I know Bill feels the same way and build us just awesome encouragement to receive.

It is. And, you know, another prayer of ours is that folks who listen to CORE Christianity would let others know about this program, because we know there are so many Christians who really are struggling and need to be strengthened in their faith and then to share this program or the podcast with friends and relatives and work associates who don't know Christ, because, boy, we hear stories all the time. People just stumbled on this show. You know, they were going through the car radio and they're going across the dial and they found CORE Christianity started listening and they started to listen.

And so they started exploring the claims of Christianity based on what they heard here. So please do let others know about both the live program and our podcast. Well, let's go to one of our listeners. John is on the line from Missouri.

John, what's your question for Adriel? Yes, my I would first like to say Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior, and I know I am saved because I confess that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. My question is, as I know, and we all know that Christians can fall into sin from time to time. But as I look around in the church and the world, I see a lot of professing Christians habitually practicing known sin. And 1 John 3, 9 says, Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God. And verse 10 says, In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil. The word commit in verse 9 is in the present tense and in the indicative mood, which basically says, Whosoever is born of God does not commit habitual known sin.

Can a Christian commit habitual known sin? John, thank you for that question, and I also thank the Lord for your testimony and your profession, your confession of faith, believing in Christ's death, burial, and resurrection for your salvation. And so the question here is, right, it's interesting because John does say very clearly, By this the children of God and the children of the devil are made manifest. And in the context of 1 John, John is writing to a group of Christians who had just experienced a kind of schism. There was a group of people within the church who broke off and broke away and abandoned essentially the faith. There was false teaching going around there in particular, false teaching about who Jesus is and about his redemptive work. Some scholars and theologians think, you know, what John seems to be dealing with here is this kind of early form of the Gnostic heresy. And if you don't know what Gnosticism is, Gnosticism, I mean, there's a number of ways to approach this, but one of the things that it highlighted or that it taught was that the body was bad and that the spirit was good.

It's sort of this spirit-body dichotomy. And so it seems like here in 1 John, what was being questioned by these false teachers is the physicality of Christ, the incarnation, his bodily presence, which is why John begins 1 John the way that he does. That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands concerning the word of life. And so there were these false teachers that essentially had crept into the church and a group of people had become deceived, and they broke off. And John says in chapter 2, verse 19, they went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us, but they went out that it might be complained that they all are not of us. And so when John talks about sinning, and the way you bring it up or mention it, John, is this idea of habitual sin as a Christian, specifically I think what he has in mind here in the background was these false teachers who had broken off from the church, who had committed apostasy and turned away from Christ and the gospel. And he says there in chapter 2, look, when you do that, you prove that you weren't really of us, that you weren't really a part of the people of God.

And then he goes into chapter 3, which you brought up, this is how the children of God and the children of the devil are made manifest. Now, does that mean, you mentioned in verse 9 of chapter 3, this is in the present tense, doesn't sin, or the way the ESV puts it, and I think in order to highlight that present tense, the idea of this habitual sin, the ESV translates that he cannot keep on sinning. Does that mean that we're not going to struggle with sin as Christians?

I mean, absolutely not. John already said earlier, if anyone says he's without sin, he's a liar, and he deceives himself, he doesn't practice the truth. But he is talking about a particular kind of sinning, I think a turning away from Christ, I think an apostasy, like he mentioned back in chapter 2. I think that as a genuine Christian, maybe this is getting more to the heart of your question, John, as a genuine believer, I think that we can struggle with grievous sins and even a pattern of sinful behavior, but God disciplines us. He doesn't leave us hanging.

He keeps us, and we persevere. That's precisely what didn't happen in 1 John chapter 2 with these false Christians, we might say, the people who had left. They went out because it was obvious, it was proven that they weren't of us. And so I would want to be careful, if somebody was struggling with the habitual sin, I wouldn't jump to, oh, well, you're just not a Christian, you're wrestling with this sin and it seems to be a continual problem in your life. Now, if somebody is not struggling with sin at all, and they claim to be a Christian, when I say not struggling, I just mean they are living a sinful lifestyle, and they're saying, everything's fine, I don't have any sin, this isn't an issue, I don't feel any conviction, well, that would raise red flags, that would sound actually a lot like the false teachers in 1 John. They were saying, we don't have any sin, we can live however we want.

They were antinomian, they rejected God's law for them. And so in that situation I might say, hey, you're deceived, but for a Christian who's convicted about the struggle that they have, it's like, man, Lord, I've fallen again. I would want to bring the comfort of the gospel to that person, and encouragement of what God has done, helping them to live in light of his forgiveness and his redemptive work, rather than trying to get them to question whether or not they're truly a Christian, per se. The person who's grieved over their sins, I would want to bring the comfort of the gospel. The person who is happy in sin, and thinks everything is fine, I would want to give a warning and say, hey, you might be self-deceived.

If the Spirit of God lives in you, if you belong to Christ as you claim, you say that you believe these things, but you live totally contrary to what Jesus has said in his word, and as you say in 1 John 3, this is one of the ways that the children of God and the children of the devil are made manifest. So, alright, that was a lot for your question, but I appreciate you reaching out to us, and this is, I think, an important issue and a huge need in the church, and so thank you for reaching out to us, John. We've talked before about the importance of accountability and being plugged into a local church where you are known, others know you, and you're able to share your struggles with them, and unfortunately, I think in this day and age, we have a lot of Christians who are going to these mega churches where they are unknown. They're not in a small group, they're not in a Sunday school class, they're going to a really great rock concert followed by a TED Talk, but there's no form of accountability there, and that's, I think, one of the things that leads to what John is talking about. Sin always thrives in isolation, in the darkness, right? When we're by ourselves with our sin, and there is no accountability, there's no fellowship, there's no confession. That's precisely where sin wants us, and where sin can gain control, and this is why it's so important to confess our sins to the Lord, but why it's also such a benefit also when we have solid brothers or sisters in our lives.

Pastors, like you say, Bill, people who we can go to and say, hey, I need prayer, and I need some help, and sometimes even just saying that and bringing it into the light is huge, because you feel like I'm not living in the shadows anymore, I've heard the grace of God towards me, his forgiveness, even though I struggle with this, I know that there's forgiveness, and I don't feel like I'm living this lie, pretending and holding onto this thing that I know is not honoring to God, and so that's just an encouragement to get the kind of accountability, Bill, that you're talking about. You're listening to Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, you can always email us.

Here's our email address. It's questions at corechristianity.com. Here's an interesting email from a listener named Martha. She says, Deuteronomy chapter 4, 15 through 20 reminds us about worshiping a true God, not making an idol for ourselves. However, I find myself with an image of Jesus in my head when I pray. Since we don't know what Jesus looks like, I'm trying to wipe that image out of my head. On your show, when we join you in prayer for a caller, I have an image in my head, though I do not know what the caller looks like. I feel like I may be drifting from the depth I want in prayer by coming up with my own images. What are you seeing in your mind when you pray?

If I'm hungry, a burrito or something. I don't have an image of Christ or of God per se, but what strikes me is if you're trying to say, if you're thinking about this and you're praying and you're trying to keep yourself from having an image in your mind of Jesus, it's going to be really hard. It's like the whole don't think about a pink elephant thing or however that goes.

Oh, I just thought about one. Yeah, exactly. I think rather than focusing on the image per se, and this is one of the struggles we all have with prayer, is it's so easy for us to be distracted by something. Maybe it's that burrito, my lunch, I'm hungry. It's funny, there's that story in the book of Acts where there's the vision that's received on the rooftop at around lunchtime. It's the vision of all these unclean animals coming down. It's like God using even our weakness to communicate to us in prayer. But what I would say is trying to focus on, and sometimes journaling can help, writing your prayers down, trying to focus specifically on what it is that you're bringing before the Lord, those particular needs. And saying, Lord, hear my prayer.

Help me. I just want to encourage you, friend. I don't think you have to condemn yourself or beat yourself up because you're wrestling with these distractions. We all wrestle with these kinds of distractions in prayer. There's intrusive thoughts that come into our minds. So that's why I said maybe something like a prayer journal can be really helpful, and maybe giving that a shot and seeing how it works.

Well, Martha, thanks so much for your email. And you know, speaking of prayer, we actually have a book we want to tell you about. It's Pastor Adrian's very first book. It just came out this week, and it's all about the Lord's Prayer. It's called Praying with Jesus, Getting to the Heart of the Lord's Prayer, and I hope that it encourages you to get ahold of this resource. The Lord's Prayer, Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, he said something that was so interesting. He said, you know, everyone tortures and abuses the Lord's Prayer. Apart from the Son of God, Jesus, the eternal Word of the Father, there isn't a greater martyr on earth, he said, than the Lord's Prayer because we all torture and abuse it.

Luther just had a way with words the way he would say things. But his point is, yeah, the Lord's Prayer is familiar to us, but many of us don't fully understand it. We don't understand the implications of what we're praying, the implications of who God is and how He reveals Himself to us in the Lord's Prayer. And so one of the reasons I wrote this book was to dive into the Lord's Prayer and to help people understand it because it's so full of blessing and gospel riches that we want to mine and unearth. And so I hope that you do that through this book, Praying with Jesus, Getting to the Heart of the Lord's Prayer. And by the way, if you make a donation of any amount, we will send you that book, Praying with Jesus, plus some additional resources, including a video from Adriel, and you can get that by going to corechristianity.com forward slash offers.

Again, corechristianity.com forward slash offers and look for Praying with Jesus. Well, we do receive voicemails here at Core Christianity. You can call us 24 hours a day. Our voicemail system will take your question. Make sure to let us know your name and where you're calling from.

And here's a voicemail that came in from one of our listeners named Cela. I have a question about prayer and what the Bible says about prayer and how to pray in groups. We've been holding off with some family and neighbors and friends praying for about a year now. And I think the thing that's holding us back from gathering and praying for one of the person in our groups, a grandson who is ill and just all people in general, we don't know how to.

And I think that's why it's been put off for a year now. So the first thing that comes to mind is when the apostles were in prayer in the upper room, when one of the apostles was in prison, the mention that comes to mind about being in the group in prayer, but does it mention it anywhere else? Does it say anything anywhere about how we should pray as a group? Thank you.

Well, I love that you want to do this. What a blessing it is to pray. And of course, you know, when Jesus encouraged us to pray in Matthew chapter 6, he says, go and pray before your Father in secret, in your prayer closet.

It's not about other people seeing you. It's not about putting on a show, but making sure we have that communion with God in prayer, which doesn't mean that we don't pray together as the people of God as well in groups. I mean, what is church but a gathered assembly for prayer? That's at the heart of what we do when we come together for worship on Sundays, is we're praying through the songs that we sing, through the prayers that we are actually praying there together, all of us.

The Lord's Prayer itself, this is one of the things I highlight in my book, is all written in the first person plural. It's our Father. In other words, we're not just praying about me individually.

It's not the individual. It's me coming before the Lord as a member of his family, of the body of Christ. And so we bring the petitions, the needs of the whole body to God, even when we're praying in our closet, even when we're praying on our own.

But when we gather together, I think what is highlighted in places like the passage you brought up from the book of Acts, when they're in the upper room waiting for the day of Pentecost, is the unity that they have, the oneness. And so there's an order around praying for specific things, specific needs, and it sounds like there are some pretty specific needs that this group that you're referring to knows about, whether it's the healing of an individual or something else, but I think the way that would look is, okay, let's get together and pray. And if you want to pray, feel free to pray. This is kind of how we do it whenever we pray as a group in the church that I pastor, from leading a small group or a community group, and afterwards we pray together. Typically I'll sit down and I'll take prayer requests. I'll say, okay, what can we be praying for? And then I will pray for those on behalf of the group, or I'll just say, okay, who wants to pray for these things, and we'll take turns. So I think you can approach it like that.

It can be simple. But there is a sweetness of doing it together, and you do see that sweetness in some places like 2 Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 1, verse 11, Paul says to the Corinthians, you also must help us by prayer so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted to us through the prayers of many. And so Paul's saying, look, the more people we can get praying for this, the more people who are going to thank God and praise Him when the prayer has been answered. So praying as a group leads to group worship as well.

That's a beautiful thing that Paul is highlighting there. And so you might find that that is the case with this gathering that you're talking about. And I just want to encourage you guys to get together and to pray and to trust the Lord and to bring the needs of your friends and family to God, trusting that He hears you. So well said. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adrian Sanchez.

Here's an email that came in from one of our listeners named Ben. He says, I'm 22 years old and I found God a year or two ago. I have slowly found myself slipping back into worldly desires. My question is, what is a good way to remind myself of God's power and understanding when I feel so blinded by temptations around me and there are evil thoughts in my head? My brother, you confess those evil thoughts to the Lord and whatever sins you're struggling with, be sure that you're in a solid church. You can't do the Christian life in isolation on your own. You need to be in a church where the Word of God is faithfully proclaimed and where you can worship alongside of others. You can have brothers there who can encourage you in your relationship and walk with the Lord. And in your daily life, so it's being in church, but in your daily life, seeking to build habits that are going to encourage you in your walk with the Lord as well.

Habits like reading the Bible, meditating on scripture. The psalmist said, your word have I hidden in my heart that I may not sin against you. And so meditating upon the Word of God, hiding the Word of God in your heart, that's how we walk in the Spirit. It's as the Word of Christ dwells in us richly that we are filled with the Spirit.

So my question for you would be, are you being filled with the Word of Christ, not just on Sunday mornings, but every day, filling your mind with the truth of God's Word, praying? I mean, it really is a battle, and you feel that battle. This is why Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2, verse 22, so flee youthful passions. Just run from them. You think of Joseph in Potiphar's house, right? Like, give no provision to the flesh when you know that there's an avenue of temptation.

Just don't even mess with that. Flee youthful passions, and it's not just running away from something, but it's running towards something, running towards someone in particular. And pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with, so this happens in community, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. So may the Lord enable you, may He strengthen you, to flee from youthful passions, and together with the whole body of Christ, run towards Jesus through the Word.

Righteousness, faith, love, and peace. It's being proactive in these things, and pursuing these things, and disciplining yourself to this end of this pursuit of the Lord. And when you struggle, as we all do, again, it's confessing your sin to the Lord, those feelings, those thoughts, and resting in the Gospel, the promises of His Word, of His forgiveness.

Not wallowing in shame and guilt and sin, but looking away from yourself and looking up to Christ to receive the grace that He has for you, and to run with endurance the race that He set before you. That's so well said, and again, we talk about this regularly on Core Christianity, the importance of being plugged into a local church. And we know that, unfortunately, a lot of Christians these days say, well, it's just kind of me and the Lord. I'm a Lone Ranger Christian. That's not biblical.

Yeah, it's not. And as I say this on the broadcast, I am a minister, I'm a pastor, but I'm not your pastor. You need a pastor who is caring for you and watching over your soul, so make sure that you're plugged into a good church. And as a pastor, I want to encourage you to do that. Thanks for listening, and God bless. We're the truth of God's Word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-15 18:46:09 / 2024-04-15 18:56:17 / 10

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