Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pray like this...

This week my small group curriculum focuses on prayer.

Big Idea:
So, do you know how to pray? How we pray matters. In fact, Jesus instructed His disciples about prayer on more than one occasion and we call these instructions “The Lord’s Prayer.”

Too often Christians can find themselves stuck in a rut of selfish prayers where God is reduced to a genie who is supposed to grant the three wishes of health, wealth, and personal happiness. Other times, prayer can be used by the spiritually puffed-up as a tool to impress others. Jesus corrected these misuses of prayer when he unpacked what we call, “The Lord’s Prayer”. This prayer is our Lord's teaching and our Lord's pattern concerning prayer and life. Let’s be very clear that the Lord's Prayer was not given as a literary masterpiece to be merely admired; nor, was it designed to simply be recited as a rote prayer. Rather, it was given to be a pattern and basis of prayer for real people in the real world. It is intended to help us understand how to talk with God and how to live for Him.

The Lord’s Prayer is comprised of four distinct components: adoration (praising God's attributes and character), confession (confession of our sins to God), thanksgiving (thanksgiving for the blessings we have received from Him), and lastly supplication (requests for ourselves and others). These vital components of prayer can be best remembered by the use of the acrostic ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.

Finally, prayer is vital because it is our opportunity to commune directly with God, celebrate His glorious attributes, and praise Him for His marvelous works. Jesus actually spoke of prayer very presumptuously when He introduced the topic of prayer with the statement,”When you pray.” Notice, He didn’t say if you pray. Jesus was a man who prayed, and He understands the essential role it plays in our lives. So, let’s take Jesus’ lead and pray His way.

Discussion Questions: (read the scripture & discuss)

Matthew 6:5-8 (this week, also read The Message version of this passage)
(1) Does our motivation for prayer matter? (2) Discuss what can make some prayers wrong. (3) How do you respond to the suggestion that the Lord's Prayer is more than a prayer to recite, rather it is a model for communicating with God.

Matthew 6:9-15 (this week, also read The Message version of this passage)
(1) What significance is there in the use of the words “our” and “us” in this prayer? (2) Why should our heavenly Father's name be held in awe and in the highest honor? (3) How can we hold his name high? (4) Discuss why it can be hard to accept the will of our heavenly Father. (5) How do you react to the suggestion that we should pray for our daily bread, forgiveness and deliverance from temptation, rather than for our comfort and happiness? (6) Finally, discuss the importance of asking for forgiveness and forgiving others.

Taking Action: Put Jesus’ pattern of prayer into action by making a conscience decision while in prayer to spend time adoring God, confessing your sins, thanking Him for His blessings, and lastly asking Him for help.

Ministry Time

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