Being Thankful Invites God’s Presence

“Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.” ~ Psalm 50:14

Thanksgiving is the origin point for all worship. In fact, without gratitude, your heart will not connect with the Lord in worship because worship is, first and foremost, a heart condition. In Psalm 50:23 the Lord said, “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” A heart that is filled with thanks for what the Lord has done is ready to enter into His presence because praise is what paves the way into His courts. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100:4)

We need to practice gratitude as often as we can. When you make up your mind to see the blessings in your life, no matter how small, something will shift in your thinking and emotions.  You will experience more peace, more contentment when you choose to see what you have versus what you don’t have and seeing God’s hand behind the blessings in your life. You will know how to recognize God’s presence through gratitude.  

We have so much to be grateful for in our lives. We serve a good and loving God who knows how to give good things to His children: “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:11)  Practicing gratitude to God becomes a powerful way for us to live. Our hearts become glad when we are grateful to God. We affirm the good in our lives and recognize that the source of this goodness is from God.

We should count our blessings each day. Set aside time regularly to be quiet, to reflect and thank God for what He has done. From the moment we awake to the moment we fall into bed, we often go at full speed and never slow down. If we schedule some time every day in which we can be quiet and reflect, we will allow ourselves a break from our fast-paced lives. In the first moments of the day, when we feel most focused, before the work of the day takes over, take some time to think about what God has done for you, and thank Him and to seek His presence. 

When the apostle Paul describes what being filled with the Spirit looks like, he doesn’t point to ecstatic experiences or miraculous spiritual gifts — he points to thankfulness. He says:“be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18–20, NIV)

Practicing gratitude to God becomes a powerful way for us to live. Our hearts become glad when we are grateful to God. We affirm the good in our lives and recognize that the source of this goodness is from God.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How is your dependence on God connected to gratitude? 
  2. Why is thankfulness an important part of the Christian life? In what ways do you give thanks on a regular basis in your life?

The Art Of Gratitude

“Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” – Psalm 107:8-9. 

Are you thankful no matter what? Perhaps you have lost your job recently, as the economy has continued to struggle. Or you may have lost your health or a loved one. Such circumstances can be tremendously difficult. But even so, can we find joy and be thankful for all we have been given by God. Paul is an example of somebody who could be discouraged, even bitter.

Put yourself in Paul’s shoes: The next footsteps in the corridor might be those of the guards taking him away to his execution. His only bed was the hard, cold stone floor of his prison cell. The irritation and the pain of his chains were his constant companion. Isolated, unjustly accused, brutally treated—if ever a person had a right to complain, it was Paul, languishing almost forgotten in a harsh Roman prison. But instead of complaints, his words spoke of praise and thanksgiving. Earlier, when he had been imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote, “ singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19-20)

Thanksgiving for the Apostle Paul was not a once-a-year celebration, but a daily reality that changed his life enabling him to find joy in every circumstance. Being grateful to God for all His blessings should be one of the most distinctive marks of the believer in Jesus Christ, especially in times of trial.  Even when facing negative circumstances, we can thank God, because we know that He has promised to be with us and that He will help us. We know that He can use times of suffering to draw us closer to Himself: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (James 1:2-3)

When the prophet Daniel learned that evil men were plotting against him to destroy him, “he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” (Daniel 6:10)  Paul declared, “always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.” (Colossians 1:12)

God has given us the greatest Gift of all—His Son, who died on the cross and rose again so that we can know Him personally and spend eternity with Him in heaven. “Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, NIV).

 Discussion Questions:

  1. How does one be thankful for all God has done on a daily basis? 
  2. What can we do this week to have an attitude of gratitude to God? 

Our Confidence Is In Jesus

“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.”– Psalm 146:3-5. 

These words from Psalms are always a good reminder, but appear especially relevant in the heated and divisive political environment of today. Just as the people of Israel were tempted to put their trust in the king’s sons, the next generation of potential leaders – the “princes” – so we are tempted to place our hope in the president and the next generation of political leaders. 

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter which side of the political spectrum you are on. This political system is not our hope. This government is not our hope. This president is not our hope. God is our hope. 

Psalm 27 simplifies this subject to a great degree. In verses 10-11 we read, “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.”  So even if you are forsaken by your father and mother, attacked by foes, and by greedy enemies, you have hope in God. We’ve all at one time or another put on confidence in people and things other than God but loves us anyway. 1 Corinthians 2:3-5 says: “I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.”

 Don’t put your trust in “princes” or political candidates.  Rather, hope in the Lord.  “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.”  It is the God of the Bible who “… made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.” (Psalm 146:6-9). 

We do, however, need to pray for our leaders. 1 Timothy 2: 1-4 says, “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” If you want God to work in other people’s lives pray for them. Even when you don’t agree with the policies they put in place, pray for them.

Proverbs 21:1 tells us that “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.” And Romans 13:1 reminds us that “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” God is in control, and He’s still on His throne. Trust Him with your future and the future of our nation.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Where is your confidence today?
  2. What can we do this week to increase our confidence in God?

Depend On God

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

What does it mean to depend on God, and do I practice dependency daily? It is faith and confidence in Christ. It seems easier to depend on the Lord when there is a real need in our lives than the little things in life like getting angry in traffic. Dependence on God means we need Him, and we understand that we are unable to accomplish anything of Kingdom significance without Him. 

Reliance on Jesus means we are transformed by what the Lord says and thinks; therefore we can depend on Him for wisdom and insight. Dependence on the Lord deepens our determination to be Christlike. Jeremiah 17:5 says, “This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.”

Like a branch draws sap from the vine for sustenance, so He energizes us for sustainability. Dependence is a continual connection to Christ that results in holiness. Pride is purged away, and humility grows in its place. Fear is purged away, and faith grows in its place. Anger is purged away, and forgiveness grows in its place. Hate is purged away, and love grows in its place. We depend on God because we are desperate and detached without Him. Jesus is our source of strength and our hope in hard times.

Dependence starts by acknowledging Almighty God as the owner of everything, and the controller of every circumstance. Nothing is impossible with God, and everything is within His reach. Your part is to trust and obey, and His part is to do the rest. Dependency depends on Him working in and through you. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

You belong to Christ, and you are in His care. Do not let fears or worry paralyze you in following Him. Be in constant prayer, always yielding your thoughts, motives, and needs to the Lord. Trust His plans for you, and surrender your own plans to Him. “…the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters,  I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty,  you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:1-2).

When we find strength in God, we are not simply sending out requests for God to solve our problems and make us feel stronger. Through faith in Christ, we can know God personally.  Dwelling in us, the Spirit is our ever-present counselor, comforter, companion, and advocate. We are not alone. God is with us as Isaiah 41:10 points out: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

We will inevitably struggle in heart, body, mind, or community, and so our ultimate reliance on God is demonstrated through daily embracing His undeserved grace and never-failing love.

Discussion Questions:

  1. God’s power comes abundantly to those who humbly rely on Him. What does that look like in daily life? 
  2. What areas in our life do we need to surrender to Christ? 

Pray God’s Agenda First

“Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” – Matthew 16:23

Ask yourself this question: Does prayer set the agenda for your life? And if so, who’s agenda is it?

The Bible tells us that while rebuking Peter, Jesus said, “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Matthew 16:23). In other words, Jesus was telling Peter that he was not pursuing God’s agenda in that particular situation. Peter was not thinking God’s thoughts but man’s. He did not seem to accept or understand the need for Jesus to die on the cross. I’m sure Peter thought that he was doing the right thing, but he wasn’t. 

God will invite you to change your plans for His. His plans require faith and obedience and initially God’s plan is exhilarating. But typically, the journey begins to look and feel different than we imagined. The road is filled with more potholes than we expected and God did seem to be leading us in a direction we didn’t expect. You don’t doubt God’s presence, but you question His plans. Your enthusiasm wanes and your confidence falters. That is when we start to evaluate our agenda over God’s. 

But if we think about that for a second, you will realize some undeniable truths. A God of infinite majesty can’t be measured. A God who unleashes miracles can’t be contained. A God whose love is eternal can’t be explained. God sees more than we can see, knows more than we know, and works beyond our comprehension. So if we agree to follow Him only when we understand what He’s doing, we’ll always stop short of experiencing His indescribable wonders. So we can go it alone or let God engineer and direct the agenda of our lives. We may not know how He does it, but we know this: It will be wondrous just like He is.

Living for the Lord Jesus Christ, and serving Him, is not an item that we try to fit into our priorities. It is the one supremely important agenda item of our lives and should shape and mold and drive and influence and determine what we do in every other sphere of our lives.

God has a good plan for your life. He wants to help you follow that plan. But first, you must choose to follow His agenda, not your own. You must choose to trust in His strength, not your own ability.  Praying through every decision, listening to His voice, and leaning upon His wisdom will enable you to determine and then follow God’s agenda. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Evaluate yourself. What part of your agenda is driven by God and what percentage is driven by you?
  2. What is the difference between seeking the “plans” God may have for us and simply seeking Him?
  3. What could be practically done to ensure that you seek God’s agenda in the next three weeks?

Worship His Name

“Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too. Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,” – Psalm 96:1-6. 

Praise is an essential part of worshipping God. We don’t approach our heavenly Father only to ask more of Him, but also to remember not only what He has already given us, but also Who He is. We praise Him simply for being God, our faithful Father, our loving Creator, our righteous King. Warren Wiersbe says that “Worship is the believer’s response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, body – to what God is and says and does.” 

Worship comes from within the heart and is expressed out of a heart of love to Jesus because He loved us first. Worship is not limited to a music style or genre, or tradition. It is not based on where one worships. It comes from the heart and it’s all about Jesus.  One of the best Biblical examples of worship is David. 

David made worship a priority. Even as a young man, the Lord was with him. He had a heart after God’s own heart. “But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Samuel 13:14) Samuel tells Saul that his lack of obedience cost him the kingship. Having a “heart after God’s own heart” is tied to obedience. This idea is repeated in Acts: “But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22)  

In Psalm 96 David makes a list of all of the things that the Lord does for us. He forgives your sins, and He heals your diseases. He redeems your life and crowns you with love and compassion. And then, David reminds us who the Lord is. He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and overflowing with love for all of us. Reading David’s instruction manual on praise will help you understand how to worship our all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing heavenly Father. 

One way to engage in worship is to begin by opening our hearts and asking the Holy Spirit to help us receive God’s love for us. Read a Psalm or a part of the gospel that will remind you of how much God loves you. Ask God to speak to you and pour His love out on you.  

For David, worship was a natural reflex, and in a way, as vital as breathing. His example can help all of us grow in both our worship and faith lives.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What exactly is worship and why do we do it?
  2. What can we do this week to improve the level of our worship? 

Connect to God

We live life enjoyably and effectively only when we are connected with God. – Glenn C. Stewart. 

A personal relationship with God is just like a relationship with anyone else in your life. It is fellowship, love, and trust between you and Him. It means to know Him and to be known by Him. It’s much more than just going to church or even reading our Bibles. We were created for relationship with God. In fact, it’s our primary purpose in life. You may have known about God all your life through church and your Christian community, but connecting with Him on an intimate level is different. 

One of the most important ways to grow your relationship with Him is to be serious about intentional communication. No relationship succeeds without communication and our relationship with God is no exception. Our expectation is that spending time with God will be an emotional and spiritual high. It may not always be that exciting, but every conversation with your spouse is not exciting all the time but it is necessary and meaningful for those relationships to grow. Quiet time, praying, and studying the Bible may not always be exciting, but it’s the building block to a better connection with God.  

The good news is we can pray or simply talk to God no matter where we are. Scripture tells us to “pray continually?” This suggests a prayer mindset and the connection to God should be active all day. So, when you have a tough situation going on in your life, talk to God, seek his guidance. Our relationship with others is important for developing our relationship with God. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17) We need each other. Learning and growing together with like-minded Christians help us to grow closer to God.

Finally, if we want a personal relationship with God, we need to learn how to depend on Him. We all want to be self-reliant, to have the outcomes of our lives in our hands. That is why we need to learn to depend on God;  praying and asking Him for guidance before making a decision, asking Him to be with us throughout the day, or asking Him to give us wisdom in our day-to-day interactions. Depending on God is crucial for developing a strong relationship with Him. 

Developing a real connection with God is a process. It won’t happen all at once and sometimes you’ll think your relationship with Him is strong one day and the next day you may wonder if He’s even there. But, that’s a part of the journey. Like any relationship, a relationship with God is complex. You’ll learn more about Him and encounter Him in a deeper, more meaningful way as you go along. As you draw closer to Him, He’ll reveal more of himself to you and teach you more about what He is like. 

My prayer is that you experienced a small group that strengthened your faith and closeness to God. If not, I encourage you to join one. Otherwise, you will never know just how much a relationship with Christians around you might strengthen your own personal relationship with God.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Does connecting to God help you connect with other people?
  2. What can we do this week to better connect with God? 

We Need A Little Unity

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” –  John 17:20-23.  

One of the phrases in the pledge of allegiance is “one nation under God.” But turn on your TV, watch the news or read anything online or on social media, and it certainly doesn’t feel that way. It seems that we are far less like the United States and a lot more like divided States. We are not so much under God, but under the banner of all different kinds of camps and parties and movements and agendas moving in different directions and all claiming to be the way. Not only are we moving in different directions, but we have become opposed to each other. 

Hopefully, we as the church look and act and sound different. In John 17, on the day before Jesus will first be arrested and then will go to the cross to be put to death for the sin of all mankind, Jesus gathers His disciples together, and He prays a prayer. Jesus is praying, not just for His disciples who were with Him, but also for you and me and all Christians everywhere who would believe in Him. Think about that for a second: long before you ever had a thought about God, God was thinking about you. Long before you ever asked for Him, Jesus was asking the Father for you. That’s how much you’re loved and wanted by God. Jesus says my prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message. 

What you repeatedly hear in Jesus’ prayer is that God wants unity for His people. Unity can mean different things for different people. Jesus says that our unity is to be like the unity that He has with His Father. In other words, our unity as brothers and sisters in Christ is meant to be a replica, a reflection of the kind of unity that exists in the Trinity, where God the Father and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit dwell together in oneness. And yet, at the same time, they are three distinct persons. 

So unity is not uniformity in the sense that we’re the same, because we’re not the same. There is to be diversity in our unity. It’s good that we’re different. God knew that we would look different and think differently. We might like some different things, have some different preferences. We might do some different things, and get this, we might vote differently. And yet, we are according to God to be one. 

Jesus’ prayer for His church, Jesus’ prayer for us, was for our unity. A united church is a powerful tool. Paul says we exist as a church so, “…all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:6) When the world sees love and unity, it is a powerful testimony to the truth of the gospel. Let us work even harder to improve our unity by the love we show in the communities we serve.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. How important is living in harmony?
  2. How would you describe the power and impact of unity? When or where have you experienced that?
  3. What can you do to become more of a force for unity?

Rejoice In All Things

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:4-7.

We are just a few weeks into the new year. And with the new year comes a new slate and a new mindset to face the challenges from last year and new challenges the new year will present. We feel rejuvenated and ready to take on whatever the new year throws our way. But, just like resolutions, that take-on-the-world attitude will probably fade soon. We are already facing a tough challenge from last year and added some new ones such as the divisiveness we face as a nation.  

Learning how to rejoice in all things is the Biblical mandate, but it is not a statement, it is an exercise. It is a faith stretching exercise, one that is all about perspective. Maybe you were just laid off or had an unplanned major expense pop up out of nowhere. It is counter intuitive to think you could rejoice in those things, but that is what God command us to do.

Maybe you haven’t been hit by “hard times” but you are overwhelmed by all the small things going wrong in your life. Maybe you have too many balls in the air and the little things at work and at home with the kids has you flustered and overwhelmed. How are you supposed to rejoice?

The answer is you don’t. You rejoice in the Lord. Philippians 4:4 (ESV) says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” This command doesn’t mean to find joy in your hard time, but in the Lord during your hard times. Your hope is in God, not your marital or job status. He has a future for you, not your bank statement or your ring finger. You don’t embrace health concerns, you embrace God. Thank Him for being there and walking with you and giving you the ability to overcome the world because He “…have overcome the world.” He is also not calling me to rejoice in the overwhelming feelings I have, He is calling me to rejoice in Him.

This is how you learn how to rejoice in all things, you find yourself in Him so much that your situation doesn’t compare to His plan for you and His glory. No, it is not easy. It is easy to give into despair but God is calling you to do it. He is calling you higher, He is calling you to find your everything in Him (Acts 17:28).

Discussion Questions:

  1. What would daily life look like if we rejoiced in all things? 
  2. What can we do this week to start rejoicing in the Lord?  

Stuck In A Rut?

“But forget all that –  it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:18-19.

Spiritual ruts, dry spells, periods of stagnancy: most Christians experience these at one time in their lives. Whether it is a season of busyness or a time of negative circumstances, you wake up and realize that we are not as close to God as we want to be. Day after day, sermon after sermon, small group after small group, prayer after prayer, we find ourselves discouraged and frightened by a widening gap between our desired relationship with God and the one we are actually experiencing. 

Ruts often occur because we default to thinking that God is big, and therefore removed, distant, and has better things to do than care about our daily anxieties. “Yes, I know He cares about me. He cares about everyone. But right now I feel like there is a chasm between God and me.” The beauty of God’s love is that it survives spiritual dry times. Don’t let the lie sink into your mind that spiritual dryness indicates that God has lost interest in you or has decided that you are expendable. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most faithful and happiest Christians in history have experienced days of being in a spiritual rut. 

It is at these times that we need to remember that God loves you so much. He loves you and He is with you on the mountaintop and in the valley. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

The first thing I need to do when I’m in a spiritual rut is to pick up my Bible and read it. The Word of God is living and active. It is there to help grow and strengthen us. Too often, we complicate it and act like Bible reading is only helpful if we have the right study method or reading plan or are in the right frame of mind when we open the Bible. But the beautiful thing about God’s Word is, it doesn’t depend on us – it depends on Him. He is faithful to work when we are half asleep in the morning or when we can’t sleep in the early hours of the night. Make daily time in the Word of God a priority when you are in a spiritual rut. 

Then pray to reopen communication. Your words, they don’t need to be perfect. You do not need eloquence and you certainly don’t need an audience. Because when it is quiet, your audience of One, the One who knows each hair on your head and moment, unrecognized by anyone else, when your heartbeat it first beat and filled your veins with life-sustaining blood, knows you are there. Prayer isn’t to acquaint God with what’s happening in our lives, it’s to remind yourself that God is desperately involved in each moment of our existence. Remind yourself of that and take time, perhaps every morning before you get out of bed and at the end of each day, to begin a habit of prayer. 

When you are in periods of spiritual stagnancy when you feel stuck in a rut, press into God. Ask Him to reveal Himself anew to you and to strengthen you with His mercy. We are promised that His mercy is new every morning and that He will come to those who call on Him. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What constitutes being in a spiritual rut in your mind? 
  2. Do you feel spiritually stuck in a rut, stagnant, going through the motions, too comfortable? How did you move past it?
  3. How can prayer be a catalyst for moving out of a spiritual rut?