pondering prayer: it’s about the one, not the many

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Jan. 27). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning. This sermon is part one in the Pondering Prayer series and is entitled It’s About the One, Not the Many. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.

Aim

To explore some of the most commonly misunderstood or mystifying aspects of prayer.

Word

• Again, I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. (Matthew 18.19)

• Simon, Simon, look! Satan has asserted the right to sift you all like wheat. However, I have prayed for you that your faith won’t fail. When you have returned, strengthen your brothers and sisters. (Luke 22.31-32)

• I’m praying for them. I’m not praying for the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours. … I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. (John 17.9,20)

• Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3.17)

• … he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way. This was so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, in order to wipe away the sins of the people. He’s able to help those who are being tempted, since he himself experienced suffering when he was tempted. (Hebrews 2.17-18)

• … he holds the office of priest permanently because he continues to serve forever. This is why he can completely save those who are approaching God through him, because he always lives to speak with God for them. It’s appropriate for us to have this kind of high priest: holy, innocent, incorrupt, separate from sinners, and raised high above the heavens. (Hebrews 7.24-26)

• The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. Elijah was a person just like us. When he earnestly prayed that it wouldn’t rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. He prayed again, God sent rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5.16b-18)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Would you say you tend to be mightily swayed as to what you believe or do on the basis of how many others think a certain way? Explain.

2. Tell us of time when just knowing others were praying for you meant much to you.

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Read the context of Matthew 18.19. What topic is being discussed? How does this context affect your understanding of the promise made in vs.19?

2. Read Hebrews 2.17-18. How does Jesus “help those who are being tempted” today?

3. Read Hebrews 7.24-26. What specifically does Jesus do for us as our “high priest?”

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. Why do we need to know fleshly Jesus prayed for others (Lk. 22.31-33; Jn. 17.9,20)?

2. What are some possible advantages of many people praying about the same matter?

3. Can you think of any potential problems coming from many praying about the same?

4. Read James 5.16-18. Can one person’s prayer make such a difference today?

5. “I am most keenly aware of Jesus intercession for me as my high priest when ______.”

6. “Knowing all I’m about funnels to, and through, Christ’s name (Col. 3.17) ______ me.”

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