Small Group Questions

Pray – Strengthened With Power 

Introduction:

Prayer is one of those things we believe in the most, but use the least. We believe in the power and benefits of prayer, yet we don’t pray as much as we should or as much as we would like. Prayer is our direct line with heaven. Prayer is a communication process that allows us to talk to God. He wants us to communicate with Him, like a person-to-person phone call. However, there is power in prayer as we come before an infinitely powerful God, who is able to do far more than we can imagine. “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” (Philippians 1:9).

Something To Talk About:

There are many promises in God’s Word to encourage us to pray, such as: “When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.” (Psalm 91:15); “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” (Isaiah 65:24); “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7). The Scriptures tell us that we are to pray for one another and also assure us that God hears and answers prayer. To many people, prayer seems complicated, but it is simply talking to God. Here are some points to consider concerning prayer: 

  1. Our prayers are too small: What are you praying for today? And what do your prayers look like? For most people they are self-centered prayers that are too small. I heard a preacher say that “if your prayers, wishes, and dreams over the last 30 days came true, would the world change for the better, or just yours?” Do we pray as if we are imposing on God so we want to limit our prayers to small matters? Or do we approach the throne of grace with confidence? Do we pray for things that only God can provide or deliver. Mark 9 contains a story in this point. Jesus, Peter, James, and John came down from the mountain after the transfigurations to find a crowd had gathered and the other disciples were arguing with the teachers of the law. The center of the dispute was a child who had an evil spirit. The disciples had been trying to cast it out but they had not succeeded. The man brings his son before Jesus. The boy falls at his feet and goes into convulsions. Jesus asks the father, “How long has he been like this?” The man tentatively requests healing for his son. He uses the word “if” – “Jesus, if you can heal him…” Verse 23 says, “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” In one of the most honest moments in scripture the boy’s father replies, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Jesus commands the spirit out of the boy. The spirit obeys. Jesus later tells his disciples they couldn’t do it because they had not been praying as they should. Maybe they were praying too small. How can we challenge ourselves to pray prayers that are big enough? How can our prayers reflect a recognition that God has time to hear our prayers, that he cares about our concerns, and that he is powerful enough to take care of it? 
  1. Our prayers are too general: Many of our prayers are too vague to be serviceable and too general to be functional. God needs us to be more specific in our prayers. God deals with specificity and honors people who pray with focus, like the case of the blind man Bartimaeus. He cried out in a loud voice,”Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”, Mark 10:47. Jesus then asked him,“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.” (Mark 10:51-52)  A general, vague and broad prayer shows a lack of faith. Praying specific prayers allows us to see precisely how great God is. How will you know when your prayer is answered if you are not specific? God wants you to ask him for advice. He’s interested in every detail of your life, and he’s waiting for you to ask. The more specific you are, the better, because it builds your faith when you ask God for something specific and then he answers. “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.”  (Habakkuk 2:1) 
  1. The how and why of prayer: Before we can answer, “why should we pray,” we must know to whom we pray. God, our Heavenly Father, is the only one who hears and answers our prayers. He is the God of amazing love, mercy, and forgiveness. Prayer  is a key vehicle to building my love relationship with Jesus Christ. Christianity is not primarily rules. It is a relationship as we talked about in the “I want to believe… but”  series.  What I need then, is to build my love-grace relationship with Him. I have to learn to allow God to embrace me, to care for me, to point out my needs to me (and how He fills them). I need to listen to Him, and I desperately need to talk to Him. Where and how all this is done is in prayer. In Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul prays that the Ephesians  “…grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Paul used these figurative terms in relationship to God’s love that cannot be measured, though believers can grow in their understanding of God’s love. When we “get down and get honest” before God, we are on His turf in a unique way. Seldom do we get closer to Him than in prayer. In fact, the longer I love, the more I think that the chief reason for the gift of prayer is that we learn to receive, experience, and return His love in a genuine relationship. Prayer is one place when God can get at us and speak to and minister to us. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What keeps you from praying—guilt, boredom, distraction, pain, doubt?
  2. Read Ephesians 3:14-21 and Philippians 1:9-11: Compare Paul’s prayer requests to the ones that you often offer. How are they similar? How are they different?
  3. Prayer is not a conversation between equals. (How is that comforting?)
  4. What to you is the difference between general prayers and prayers that require the spiritual richness of an all-powerful God? What does it mean to pray knowing that God can do immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine.
  5. Can anyone give an example of a time when you prayed a big prayer and you saw God answer in a big way.
  6. If God answered all of your prayers last week, how would your life and other’s lives look different? In other words, you pray “so that,” what?
  7. Paul prayed that the Ephesians would better grasp the dimensions of God’s love for us in Jesus. What are those dimensions? How will remembering those dimensions help you better live as a Christian this week?

Take One Thing Home With You:

Just as the Bible is important for teaching us about who Jesus is, what He has done for us and who we are in Him, so also is prayer a key part of building a deeper and abiding relationship with God. When we read the Bible, God speaks to us. When we pray, we speak to God. We know that we can pray directly to God and that He hears us. We long to hear God’s voice. But do we also remember that God desires to hear our voices?

Let’s wrap our minds around the amazing truth that God, Creator of the universe, takes the time to listen each and every time we are willing to meet with Him in prayer – all because of His endless love for us. God has invited every one of us into His presence, and we can never overstay our welcome. He delights to hear from us through prayer. He delights in our trust. How exciting it is when we pray that those we love will also experience His amazing love and grace.