Within each human soul is a deep desire to find purpose and fulfillment. For those who have come to know Jesus, He is the one who can fill this void, but even as believers we sense a deeper yearning and hunger for God. We want to know Him more and to have a more intimate relationship with Him. How can we fulfill this hunger for God and satisfy our heart’s desire to grow closer to Him?
What does it mean to you to hunger for God? How can we recognise if we are truly hungry for God?
Read Psalm 42:1-2. What does this passage say to you?
Are there any negative consequences to having an insatiable appetite for knowing and interacting with God on a deeper level? What are the positives aspects of this?
Have you ever experienced spiritual dryness where your soul felt parched and empty despite wanting to be closer to the Lord? If so, how did you respond to this season of life? What did you learn from it? Did this strengthen your faith or not?
Read Deuteronomy 8:3. What part does the Bible play in times of dryness for you? How can this help? What role does prayer play in cultivating a stronger bond between ourselves and the Father?
How do trials and tribulations shape our understanding of who God is and why He allows these things into our lives if He loves us so deeply? Do they draw us closer to God, or push us away? In what ways may unmet expectations have caused barriers between yourself and Him, preventing true intimacy?
What advice would you give someone who feels distant from God yet desperately desires closeness again?
We are on a spiritual journey with Jesus and there will be times of dryness and times when we feel close to Him. We are called to know how to draw closer to God, and to hunger for Him even when are feeling distracted or distant.
What practical steps can you take this week to increase your desire and longing for more of God in your life? Commit to one step in this direction this week.
Prayer is essential for an effective Christian life. Jesus spent time in prayer as part of His regular rhythm, and prayer was key to all He said and did. The disciples recognised this so they asked, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1) – the only record of the disciples asking Jesus to teach on a particular subject. Followers of Jesus know that sincere prayer makes a massive difference to our relationship with our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.
In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul urges Timothy, “first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made”. Some describe their prayers as dialogue with God. How would you describe your prayer time with Jesus?
Prayer is a measure of our relationship with God. How healthy is your prayer life?
Review Matthew 6:5-8. Jesus takes time to clarify what prayer is not. Discuss the importance of each point, then focus on verse 6. The Gospels say that Jesus went to a solitary place. What point is Jesus making?
Verse 9: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”. The focus shifts from the individual believer to the group: ‘our’ Father, not just ‘my’ Father. This is a subtle but profound difference. Why? What does ‘hallowed’ mean? What is Jesus teaching the disciples here?
Verse 10: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. This is a prayer for our community, our nation, and the world – but it starts with us. Give examples of how the Holy Spirit has led you to pray this for your own life.
Verse 11: “Give us today our daily bread”. This sounds reminiscent of the time Israel spent in the wilderness – God provided daily with manna from heaven and quail. Notice that Jesus places this before forgiveness. Is it more than an acknowledgement that everything comes from God? Consider John 4:32 and John 6:35. Whether physical or spiritual, all good things come from God, providing the sustenance we need to be active in God’s work.
Verse 12: “Forgive us our debts (sins), as we also have forgiven our debtors (those who sin against us)”. As we pray through verses 9–11, the Holy Spirit may reveal things we need to ask forgiveness for. Consider Matt 6:15 and James 5:16. How does this affect our prayers?
Verse 13 says, “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one”. The Lord does not tempt us with evil. Here Jesus teaches us to pray for the Lord to lead us. We can choose to be led by God. How can we add this into our prayer rhythm? Will you commit a certain amount of time to pray each day?
Prayer is the engine room of every believer’s life. The great thing about prayer is that we can do it anywhere, anytime and about anything. We can be devoted to prayer if we are devoted to Jesus, and our devotion to Jesus comes from hunger for God. If prayer is our engine room, we need to make sure it is maintained well, regardless of the circumstances and challenges we face.
Given that prayer is the engine room of our lives, how full is your tank right now, on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being full)? What difference would it make to your life if your engine room was fully fuelled?
Pastor Mark offers several reasons why we struggle to pray: apathy, lack of discipline, self-focus, not knowing how to pray, lack of faith and busy-ness. Discuss with the group what these reasons look like in practice. Have you experienced any of these? What helped you overcome it?
Colossians 4:2 teaches us to devote ourselves to prayer. What is your understanding of the word “devotion”? Are you currently devoted to something?
Our reading also urges us to be watchful. Pastor Mark reminds us to be observant and aware of God’s movement and activity around us so we can pray more. Think of what’s been happening around you this week. Who or what could you be praying for?
Read 1 Peter 5:8 and Ephesians 6:18. In these passages, we are reminded to be watchful and alert. What is it that Peter reminds us to be alert to? What about Paul? Why do you think the passages remind us to be alert for these things?
Lastly, we are taught to be thankful. Whether we are living in plenty or scarcity, God’s grace upon us is sufficient. What blessing have you overlooked today, that you could be thankful for?
Our devotion to and intimacy with Christ inspire us to pray more. Intimacy and activity go hand in hand. If we are intimate with Christ, if we are praying more and more, then there will be an outward expression of this. What can you do this week to become more devoted to Christ? Think of one thing that God has been waiting for you to do. Pray and do it.