PRAYER: One of the first steps taken by an active faith is commitment to prayer. The practice of daily prayer—which includes thanksgiving, confession, prayer for self and others, and the Lord’s Prayer—will lead to the formation of a prayerful life.

For Devotions:

For Openers:

For Your Information:

A) The Psalms are the great prayer book of the Bible. Have each person in your group read one of the following passages. What feelings or emotions are expressed? When might this psalm be helpful in a person’s life?

B) Assign one of the following passages to each person in the group. What does each passage tell us about prayer?

C) Read Matthew 6.9-13 where Jesus teaches his disciples the "Lord’s Prayer." Note that Jesus says, "Pray in this way...," not, "Pray these words." What are some dynamics in the Lord’s Prayer that you will want to employ in your own prayers?

For Discussion:

  1. How can someone "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5.17)? Or to put it another way, what is the difference between a life of prayers and a life of prayer?
  2. When did you pray most fervently?
  3. How do you pray? Why do we fold our hands and close our eyes to pray? Is kneeling to pray useful? What are other things that have helped you in your prayer life?
  4. Are there some things that aren’t worth praying for?
  5. When you pray, do you really believe that you can change God’s mind?
  6. How do you pray for someone who needs healing? Does it matter what kind of illness or injury the person has? What about someone who is terminally ill?
  7. In Mark 11.24, Jesus said, "Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." In the Lord’s Prayer and in his own prayer at Gethsemane (Mark 14.36), Jesus said to pray to God, "Your will be done." How do you reconcile these two directions?
  8. How should you pray when you really don’t know what the one for whom you are praying truly wants or needs?
  9. How would you reply to someone who complains that God has not answered their prayers?

For Practice:

EXERCISE 1: Try a "Palms down, palms up" prayer. Begin by placing your palms down as a symbolic indication of your desire to turn over any concerns you may have to God. Whatever it is that is bothering you or weighing you down, silently turn it over to God. Next, turn your palms up as a symbol of your desire to receive from the Lord. Ask for whatever you think you need. Finally, end with a time of inner silence, simply letting the Lord commune with you, to love you. (Cf. Foster, Celebration, 30-31.)

EXERCISE 2: Have everyone in your group match up by twos, threes, or fours. Give each mini-group a page or two from today’s local newspaper. In their newspaper page(s), each mini-group should choose one prayer concern pertaining to the world, our nation, our community, and an individual. Together as a full group, the leader will begin praying, and as each of the four topics is raised, let a person from each mini-group add their petition.

EXERCISE 3: Have each person in the group cut a sheet of paper into six strips. On one side of each strip, each person should write their name. On the other side, write one of these words on each strip: WORLD, NATION, COMMUNITY, CHURCH, FAMILY, SELF. These words correspond to these questions:

Now, let each person exchange a slip with someone else in the group. Interview each other and note the answer to the questions. Do this with each question slip. Next, as a full group, pray for one person at a time letting those people holding a person’s slips each offer petitions on that person’s behalf.

For Later:

For Further Study:

Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (Harper, 1998)

Paul Sponheim, Primer on Prayer