Prayer changes us. Prayer changes lives. Prayer changes history. It is a way to feel God’s heartbeat. Knowing who God really is makes us want to conform to Jesus Christ and his way of life. God slowly and graciously reveals himself to us while we pray, and it is during those moments that we can breathe in deeply his love.
What did James mean in James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passion”?
To ask for the “right” things involves a changed heart, new passions. We think no longer our own thoughts, but those of God’s; we desire the things God desires, we start to love and care for the things God is concerned about; we realize that God’s will for me and others is far better than my own will. Our thoughts change, our hearts change, and we learn to see life from His point of view.
The wonderful thing about prayer is that God meets us where we are. He comes alongside us to lead us into a deeper, more real relationship with him, not motivated by guilt, but driven by his love. In Matthew 6:9-13, the disciples, who may have prayed for some time, asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Jesus did then, and does now, teach us to pray. We can become his students in prayer today, and there is no need for anyone to feel they need to understand it all better before they can start. Instead, we can look forward to a life-long process.
Key Scripture: Matthew 6: 9-13
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
(You might want to recite the Lord’s Prayer together as a group.)
As a child, did somebody teach you to pray, or give you a model prayer? Do you remember what you prayed for?
Jesus taught us to come to the Father like little children. What are some of the characteristics that a child exhibits when talking to a loving parent? (Example: honesty, openness, imagination, etc.)
When you pray, do you truly expect your prayers to be answered? Why or why not?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we read, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” A lack of endurance is one of the greatest causes of defeat. What can we do to motivate ourselves to stay disciplined, to endure in prayer, especially when it seems to us that God is not answering?
“One of the most critical aspects in learning to pray for others is to get in contact with God so his life and power can flow through us into others” (Richard Foster). How can we “tune in” to God in order to pray more effectively for others?
How do you listen to God? How does he communicate with you?
“Answers to prayer are wonderful, but they are secondary to the main function of prayer, which is a growing, perpetual communion. It is out of this refreshing life of communion with Jesus Christ that answered prayer comes as a happy by-product” (Richard Foster). How do you feel about this statement?
Let’s pretend you are meeting a new Christian, who has been in the faith only a few days. She feels that prayer is mainly intense and difficult, even frightening. How would you assure her to continue to pray?
How would you respond to someone who makes the following statement: “God knows the end from the beginning, he knows what’s best for everyone, so why should I bother to pray? I’m afraid I might pray for the wrong thing.”
Do you think it is important to view prayer as a learning process? Why?
Challenge for growth
- What should we do when we don’t feel like praying? Give it some serious thought. Try to find ways to discipline yourself to pray anyway, not out of guilt, but motivated by your love for God.
- Here is a little experiment for you: Go through a whole day offering a silent prayer for every person you come in contact with. Record what you have learned from that experience.
- Many people around us do not know the Lord. Make a list and start praying for the people you know who need to know that God loves them. How can you share God’s love with them?
- Spend more time in prayer of praise, worship and thanksgiving.