In what ways do we treat prayer almost like a lucky charm?
What are some prayers that God has answered for you?
What do you usually find yourself praying for? (Consider making a “catalogue” of your prayers over the last year.)
ENGAGE WITH SCRIPTURE
Read Matthew 12:28-34 out loud together. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Then take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important or significant, or really meaningful to you. Share your thoughts together.
Have you ever prayed for something for a long time and yet not had your request granted?
Have you ever prayed for something for a long time, and had your request granted by God?
Complete the following sentences:
Heavenly Father, I need _____________________________
If you don’t grant this prayer, I’m afraid that __________________________
Parents: The size of your prayers communicates so much about the size of your God to your children. Is your God sufficient merely to help you pass this test or give us a safe trip to Nan’s house? Is He a date-sized God, or a deadline-sized God? Or is He so much bigger than your life?
Do you have a concern that’s so big it’s intimidating, so big you’re afraid to ask God about it? Is there something so big that it wrenches you out of the minutiae of your day-to-day life and threatens to take hold of your entire life? Is there something that twists your faith so much you’re not even sure you should keep asking?
One of the most important things you can do in life is to confront your really big concern, and commit to being relentless in your prayer about it: to keep going until God hears and responds.
And here’s the thing: God is not bothered by the size of your concern. In fact, He is honoured by it. Are you asking God anything that actually honours His size and magnitude and character? Or do you spend your time asking Him for things that are likely to work out anyway? What would it be like to latch onto something so much bigger than you – something that would need and require God’s intervention in order to happen?
There’s a moment in Luke’s Gospel when Jesus tells His disciples about prayer. The brief discussion He has with them goes right to the heart of what prayer is about. It’s so unique it’s almost meant to rattle us.
ENGAGE WITH SCRIPTURE
Read Luke 11:1-13 out loud together. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Then take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important or significant, or really meaningful to you. Share your thoughts together.
Is there anything that you are praying for on a consistent basis that will not happen unless God steps in? Spend some time asking: What am I going to ask God for that’s big?
If you can’t think of anything, spend 10 or 30 minutes reflecting on the question. Try talking it over with your family or friends. And if you still don’t know, say a prayer like this: “God would you put a burden on me for someone or something that is so big that it weighs me emotionally; that there would be something on the forefront of my mind every time I pray.”
Growth and change happen when we act on what we’re learning. The truth is, we learn as we pray. So here is a small experience to help you take your next step with prayer.
- Organise a time together when you can prayer-walk the streets around where you live. Bear a couple of things in mind as you walk and pray: look around your location to find prayer “starting points”; and listen to one other when you’re praying to help build and focus what you’re praying about.
- Get a map of your city or of the world and use it as the basis for a prayer retreat together. Journal your key prayers. Finish your time with this prayer: “Lord, what’s your next step for us?”
- Commit yourselves for a period of time to pray for a missional worker in another country. Correspond with them about your period of commitment.
- Brainstorm (with prayer as well) a missional project that you can give yourselves to in the coming months. As you focus and act on your project, give first priority to your prayer efforts. Journal your prayers and impressions. Pray prayers that are bold and bigger than you.
- Get together to design your own project to put into practice what you’re learning about prayer.