Tuesday Teaching Tip Episode 167: “Why you need to prepare in advance”

How far in advance do you prepare your lessons?

A conversation I had with a friend comes back to mind. His opinion is that,”The best sermons come straight from the heart and don’t need much preparation.”

To be fair he has a point in that over-prepared lessons can be dry. And indeed, we shouldn’t need preparation to be able to take advantage of a situation that suddenly presents itself. The book of Acts shows us many such incidents.

However, such sudden events are rare when it comes to what happens in most congregational speaking opportunities.

I can think of multiple reasons why being well prepared is advantageous, but I would like to explore just the one today.

Preparing your talk well in advance means you can live it.

There is a different quality of authority attached to a lesson which has been lived by the speaker. Why is this? Here are a few of the reasons: 

  1. The truth has time to sink into your own mind and heart
  2. You have time to work out how to live it
  3. In living it you can experience the struggle and bring us the fruit of your struggle

What was it people said about Jesus?

“The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority!” (Mark 1:27 NIV11)

Why was it that Jesus spoke with such authority? Because he lived what he taught – fully. It was not enough to bring us technical truth. He came to bring us enfleshed truth (John 1.17).

There will be times when we need to preach at short notice. We may not always get the preparation space we would prefer. But, when you have opportunity, when you’re provided with the time, begin preparing your lesson well in advance. At least live your lesson for a week before you deliver it. I guarantee that if this is done your message will have far more authority and, to the point, more impact.

What is your normal preparation schedule? How much time do you normally have between being assigned a passage (or picking one) and speaking on it?

I’m off to start preparation for a sermon I’ll be delivering in a two weeks’ time. 

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Malcolm’s Major Moments

27 July 2019

Adapt to thrive

Thursday this week was the hottest day of the year and one of the very hottest ever in UK history since records began. We were all complaining about the heat, whilst simultaneously feeling guilty that we were complaining about the heat!

An odd thing happened that morning that gave me pause to think.

I took my customary prayer walk through Cassiobury Park in Watford starting about 6:45 AM. As I made my way through the park I noticed far more people out exercising than usual. I was almost run over several times by power-walkers, joggers, runners and cyclists. I see some every morning. But not this many. There must have been three or four times as many fitness fanatics than usual. What on earth was going on? It wasn’t some special day. Just an ordinary Thursday.

Then it hit me. They all know what was coming. The heat.

They were aware that their mid-morning run, their lunchtime jog, their evening cycle-ride wasn’t going to happen. It would be too hot. So what did they do? They did not abandoned their commitment. They adapted.

It made me think about what I do when things get in the way of my normal routine with God. When I’m up a bit late the night before, or have to do something early in the morning. Too often this  has the effect of compromising my time of quiet with God. Occasionally it’s situation I could not anticipate. But more often than not I knew the challenge was coming.

On this particular Thursday I had been planning not to do my own strength training regimen. But, when I saw these devoted people determined to get their exercising in, I was spurred on. As soon as I got home I got on with my exercise plan before the intensity of the day’s heat struck.

In my posts this week I hope that I can inspire us to thrive by adapting when necessary. When corporate worship doesn’t go the way we had hoped, let’s adjust. When our preaching and teaching does not have the impact we desire, then reflect, learn and change. When our times of quiet with God are not as satisfying as we would like, let’s review and adapt. Above all, let’s not allow circumstances to push us around.

The heroes and heroines of Scripture show us that devotion to God does not have to depend on favourable circumstances (think Paul and Barnabas singing hymns in the prison at midnight in Acts 16).

Whether you are feeling the heat or not, whether you are enjoying the heat or not, I pray that whatever “heat” you are experiencing will lead you to adapt and thrive in your relationship with God.


Prayer request

My mother is going in for her rescheduled, rescheduled, rescheduled, rescheduled, rescheduled hip operation this coming Monday, 29 July. Please pray for her that all goes well – this time! Her name is Joy, by the way.


I would like your feedback – Teaching Day

You’ll know, if you been receiving these newsletters for a while, that I’m planning a teaching day in Watford for the autumn. November is more likely that October. I would covet your ideas for topics and/or Bible books which might prove of interest.  Colossians is the front runner at the moment.


Thank you for reading this far, and encouraging me in my endeavours to support our times of quiet with God, our corporate worship experiences, and the effectiveness of our preaching and teaching.

If you know anyone who might enjoy these materials, please send them a link to my website and encourage them to sign up for this newsletter.

God bless, Malcolm

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

The Sunday Sample: Episode 93. “Posture in Corporate Worship”, Part 11 – Folding of Hands.

What is the usefulness and relevance of movement and posture in corporate worship? This is the 11th in a series on this topic inspired by a chapter in “Participating in Worship” by Craig Douglas Erickson.

Today we look at the issue of folding of hands.

What do you do with your hands when you pray? Do you hold your hands together? Do you interlace the fingers, hold palm to palm, steeple your fingers, pull the hands together and point them to “heaven”?

As Eriksson says, “despite modern popularity, the joining or folding of handful prayer is a posture that is unknown in biblical and early Christian traditions. It likely originated from feudal rights in which vassals joined their hands between the hands of their Lord. Consequently, folded hands may be understood to express submission to God’s will.”

I rather like this image. As I place my hands together I can imagine God placing his hands around mine. In that posture I am weak. I am surrendered. My hands are within his hands. But, of course, that is where they should be. That is where they belong. In a willing, conscious and wholehearted healthy surrender.

Is there a place in our corporate worship for asking our attendees to put their hands together consciously for this purpose of honouring our Lord?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 98. “How to redefine yourself”

We continue our series today based on the book, “Unloading the Overload: Stress management for Christians” by Chris Powell and Graham Barker.

Today we explore the issue of redefining ourselves. How does our view of ourselves and the ways others think of us effect our times of quiet with God?

We will never grow to maturity in Christ unless we deal with the inner life. Our times of quiet with God are our primary opportunity to help us become develop the inner life and become more like Jesus. At times we have to deal with external barriers to this development, but a more common and pervasive challenge is what is going on internally.  

In other words, we can be our own worst enemy.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Our times of quiet help us to develop emotional maturity. This maturity is not a position, but a process. As we go through life we develop healthily as we better understand and experience the ability to form our own independent convictions, whilst still remaining connected to community.

Jesus was at a key development point in his life when he made a decision of independence to stay behind and engage with the teachers in the temple, whilst still understanding his need to be obedient to his parents (Luke 2:41-52).

This emotional maturity is dependent on us developing a healthy self-image. An image of ourselves as God sees us. Most clearly articulated in Genesis 1:27:

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27 NIV11)

As the writers of the book put it:

“This is really the only solid basis for a good self-image. Other options are poor. Public adulation, financial success, sexual conquests, material acquisitions, you name it – all give temporary satisfaction but have long-term negative impacts on life. They never suffice, and chasing more simply creates more overload.” (p71)

What to do?  Some time spent reading, meditating and praying through Philippians 2:1-8 could well help:

    “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:1–8 NIV11)

We see in this passage that Jesus sets us the example of someone who considered the needs of others more important than his own. But, this did not mean he did what people wanted him to do or asked him to do. He did what they needed him to do. What a helpful distinction!

It means I don’t have to live to please people. I don’t have to live to make people feel good. I don’t have to prove myself by how much I do for other people. I only have to connect with what God reveals as to how to help people according to what he has called me to do.

Jesus poured himself out for people, but he still had boundaries. There were many he did not heal and countless numbers to whom he did not preach. He gave his whole heart to the few so that in the end the many could be blessed.

Is this a message you need to hear? I think I do. At times I do things for others that they could and should do for themselves. On other occasions I’m not quite sure about my motives. Do I teach and preach, arrange services, meet with people and lead worship because it is what people need, or do I do it to make me feel good?

This, of course, is not always an easy question to answer. Again, this is why we need our times of quiet with God. Let’s finish with three suggestions which can help us with these challenges.

  1. Spend some time connecting with God’s love and reminding yourself, and allowing God to remind you, that his love for you is enough. You do not have to prove yourself to him or other people.
  2. Pray for wisdom that God would reveal to you when you are acting to meet the needs of others that God has called you to, or whether you’re acting to bolster your self-image in the eyes of God, yourself or others. Ask God to reveal your motives.
  3. Read, meditate over and pray about the themes of Philippians 2:1-8.

What helps you to redefine yourself? To strip away whatever is from an unhealthy and inaccurate perspective, and replace it with the only view that truly matters – that of our maker and Father God.

Do you have any tips you could share that might help us ?

Scriptures referred to or that you might find useful: Genesis 1.27; 1 Corinthians 2.15-16; 12.1ff; Philippians 2.1-8

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“By the Spirit” – Class 3, “Walk by the Spirit”

“By the Spirit” – Class 3

Walk by the Spirit

1. Walk Away, 5:16-21

  • Romans 7 – to which Romans 8 is the answer – a Spirit-guided response – 8:27
  • Rom 8:9 – we are in the realm of the Spirit, v12-13 we can put to death the old life
  • All I dislike about this world will be improved by a more Christ-like version of me.
  • One of our aspirations: “always free but spiritual”, Galatians 5:13
  • Solution provided by God so that we can walk in the right direction, Rom 8.26-27
    • Spirit is on our side
    • Spirit prays for us
    • Spirit moves us towards the will of God

Question: “What helps us to walk away?”

2. Walk Towards, 5:22-25

  • Matt 7:15, fruit makes us recognisable for who we are, 7:19-20.
  • Not ‘normal’ levels of human qualities – but Jesus-level!
  • That’s why we need the Spirit’s life in us (Spirit of Christ, Rom 8.9), 2 Cor 3:17-18
  • Direction, not arrival; Process, not product; Lifetime, not year
  • John Mark – from hindrance to helpful: Acts 15:37–38 / 2 Timothy 4:11

Question: “What helps us to walk towards?”

3. Walk With, 5:26; 6:1-2

  • Growing in the Spirit makes us ready for service
  • Treating one another right, 5.26
  • Helping one another when we stray, 6.1-2
  • Remembering we are human too, Gal 6.3
  • A peacemaker, Matthew 5:9

Question: “What helps us to walk with?”

Conclusion, 6.7-10

  • People of “The Way”: Acts 9:2; 19.9, 23; 24.14, 22
  • Walking in a particular and different direction:
    1. Walking away
    2. Walking towards
    3. Walking with 
  • Gal 5.6b; 6:10
  • What does each of these points mean for you and your ‘group’?
  • How will you adjust the way you pray & live as a result?
  • Do you have questions about the Spirit? Send them to malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 166: “How to use your imagination in preaching and teaching”

Today’s teaching tip is inspired by a question I received from my friend Johnson in India. Paraphrasing his question he asked:

“Do you have any videos about Jesus’ life between the ages of 12 and 30?”

A friend asked him what Jesus was doing in these years and he did not have a handy reply.

Today I would like to answer the question, but also use it as a springboard to help us discern the difference between using our imagination in teaching and preaching as opposed to performing unhelpful speculation.

First, let’s deal with the actual question.

The simple answer is that we do not know what was happening in those 18 years. 

We see Jesus in the temple at the age of 12:

“When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:42–46 NIV11)

We know he began his ministry at around the age of 30:

“Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.” (Luke 3:23 NIV11)

Why 30? According to the Tyndale Commentary on the New Testament, “This was the age when the Levites began their service (Num. 4:47) and was evidently regarded as the age at which a man was fully mature.”

What happened in between is unrecorded. According to the movie “The Passion of the Christ” he invented the chair. Or was it the table? I can’t remember. According to some apocryphal so-called gospels he turned lumps of clay into birds.  There is no evidence for either of these ideas being true, nor many of the other speculative legends out there. We do know this – that he was obedient to his parents and grew to full and impressive maturity:

“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:51–52 NIV11)

Truth be known, surely this is all that matters. Bear in mind what John writes towards the end of his 20th chapter:

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his” (John 20:30–31 NIV11)

If everything Jesus did in his adult life did not need to be recorded, then neither do details of his childhood and early adulthood.  The Bible is long enough and contains all that we need:

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 NIV11)

Thus, my answer to what happened during those years is that he was obedient to his parents and grew in wisdom and stature in the favour of God and people, which prepared him to begin his public ministry at the age of 30.

If the further question is why we do not have more detail about those years, the answer is simply that it is not necessary for us to know the information to be able to trust that he was Messiah and that he can bring us the life that we need.

Now onto the wider point of the difference between using our imagination as opposed to making unhelpful speculations when we preach and teach.

It is vital for preachers and teachers to utilise their imagination when engaging with the biblical text. 

If we do not engage our imagination, we will find it difficult to enter into the context of the writer, their audience, or the thinking and emotions of the people involved (assuming it’s a narrative text). 

Neither, in the case of an epistle, will we fully engage with the situation that might have occasioned the writing of the letter and how the letter might have been received.

God gave us our imagination, we should use it.

As an example, I preached recently on Acts 14 and the courage of Paul and Barnabas in returning to the cities in which they had been persecuted so as to strengthen those young disciples (Acts 14.21-25).  

I said something like, “Can you imagine what it must have been like for Paul and Barnabas to approach the gates of Lystra? Walking towards the very place where Paul had been stoned and left for dead. I don’t know exactly how they felt, but I know, if it was me, I’d have been questioning this strategy. Do we really need to go here? Perhaps they’ll be okay without us.” 

I do not know how Paul and Barnabas felt, although I’m pretty sure, since they were human, they must have felt some fear. That stoning could happen a second time. And it might be Barnabas’s turn! 

However, it was important that I asked the congregation to imagine with me. And not claim something that the text does not tell us. 

If we simply state “they were terrified” we are adding something to the text, and an astute listener may begin to doubt other things we say. Not only that, but we are likely to be quoted by our listeners who will repeat what we have said and compound.

I have picked a relatively innocent example, but the principle applies to all passages in which we are preaching or teaching.  

When you’re speculating, say so. When you are guessing, admit it.  

Using our imagination to speculate and to guess is not wrong. But it would be wrong to give the impression that our speculation and guesswork are a true and definite interpretation of something about which the Bible gives us no specific details.

We don’t need elaborate caveats each time we use our imagination – phrases like, “I’m only using my imagination here, I’m speculating and possibly guessing and you don’t have to take this seriously”. 
Instead, simply use short phrases like, “the way I see it”, “it looks to me like”, “I wonder if…”, “Perhaps it was like this…”, “If it was me, I’d be thinking/ feeling…”, “I’m only speculating/guessing but…”

To go back to the question Johnson asked, if I was preaching on the incident in the temple when Jesus was 12 I might say something like:

“I’m guessing that during those years he was reading the Torah (how else would he or anyone grow in true wisdom?). It looks to me like humility was a key part of his character because how else can you grow in favour with God and other people unless you have a learning attitude?”

That’s about the most we can say. And, honestly, I probably wouldn’t bother to say it. But, if I was to do so, I would make it clear that I was speculating.

What do you think is the value and danger of using your imagination? How do we know when we are imagining in a way that’s helpful, as opposed to using our imagination in a way that is distracting and unhelpful?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“By The Spirit”, Class 3 Information

Lesson series for the Thames Valley churches of Christ

What’s happening this Friday, 26 July 2019?

It’s our third class in the series on the Holy Spirit. This time looking at Galatians chapter 5 and “Walking by the Spirit”.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Malcolm’s Major Moments This Week, 20 July 2019

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

The Sunday Sample: Episode 92. “Posture in Corporate Worship”, Part 10 – Laying On Hands.

What is the usefulness and relevance of movement and posture in corporate worship? This is the 10th in a series on this topic inspired by a chapter in “Participating in Worship” by Craig Douglas Erickson.

Today we look at the issue of Laying on hands.

The most common example of laying on of hands in my fellowships is for the commissioning of elders. It is moving, reverent and meaningful. But do we restrict this acts unnecessarily? Could it have other applications in our times of corporate worship?

What are some Biblical instances of the significance of hands?

  1. Hands are very expressive (Psalm 46:1; 97:8; Isaiah 55:12).
  2. Hands are meant to be pure (Exodus 30:19-21; Psalm 23:4; James 4:8; Matthew 15:2, 20; 27:24; Mark 7:2, 5).
  3. Hands are involved with sacrifice (Exodus 29:10-25).
  4. They are laid upon people to confer power and authority (Deuteronomy 34:9; Acts 6:6; 8:17-19; 19:6; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6).
  5. Jesus himself lays hands on children (Matthew 19:15) and on people who needed healing (Mark 6:5; 8:23; 16:18; Luke 4:40).
  6. The apostles laid hands on people (Acts 28:8).
  7. The early church laid hands on missionaries (Acts 13:3).

Is there a place for laying on of hands in the following circumstances in our services?

  1. Sending out a mission team
  2. Commissioning someone for a special work of service (teaching children; deacons; elders; taking up a leadership role; involvement in corporate worship leadership).
  3. Praying over someone with a significant illness.
  4. Someone leaving the congregation and moving to another church in another city or even country.
  5. Helping people with times of crisis in their lives.
  6. Restoring people to the faith and/or the fellowship.
  7. Praying over people about to be baptised.
  8. Welcoming a new baby into the congregation.
  9. Praying over a couple about to be married, or having just arrived back from honeymoon.

Perhaps there are other circumstances in which laying on of hands in prayer would be appropriate. Can you think of any?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“By The Spirit” Praying in the Spirit – Part 2

“By The Spirit”

Praying in the Spirit – Part 2

“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” (Jude 1:20–21 NIV11)

The Spirit is on our side, Rom 8.26a

  • A primary work of the Spirit is to convince us of and help us experience the love of God.
  • When you live with a sense of shame you know this is not from the Spirit. 
  • “..hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5 NIV11). 
  • The Holy Spirit opens a channel so that God’s love may be made real to us.
  • “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Eph 2:18 NIV11)
  • In light of this truth, the difference this will make to my prayer life is……………..

The Spirit prays for us, Rom 8.26b

  • A primary work of the Spirit is to help us pray.
    • “The Spirit, however, makes our groaning his groaning, putting his prayers to the Father inside our prayers. He does so by placing within us a deep, inexpressible longing to do God’s will and see his glory….The Spirit enables us to long for the future glory of God and his will, even though we don’t know the specific thing we should pray for here and now.” Keller, Prayer, page 72
  • In light of this truth, the difference this will make to my prayer life is……………..

The Spirit moves us towards God’s will, Rom 8.27

  • A primary objective of Spirit is to get us to the will of God.
  • “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:10 NIV11). 
  • ““The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”” (Matthew 26:41 NIV11). 
  • “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31 NIV11).
  • “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Eph 6:18).
  • In light of this truth, the difference this will make to my prayer life is……………..

Summary, Luke 11.1-13

Pray with humility, vv1-4

Pray with confidence, vv5-13

Conclusion

  • How will you adjust the way you pray as a result of tonight’s lesson about the Spirit?
  • Suggestion: Use Romans 8.26-27 as a prayer frame for a week.
  • Do you have questions about the Spirit? Send them to malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John