pondering prayer: it’s about your trajectory, not your track record

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Feb. 10). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning. This sermon is part two in the Pondering Prayer series and is entitled It’s About Your Trajectory, Not Your Track Record. 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

• Jonah … cried out, “Just forty days more and Nineveh will be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and put on mourning clothes, from the greatest of them to the least significant. When word of it reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, stripped himself of his robe, covered himself with mourning clothes, and sat in ashes. Then he announced, “In Nineveh, by decree of the king and his officials: Neither human nor animal, cattle nor flock, will taste anything! No grazing and no drinking water! Let humans and animals alike put on mourning clothes, and let them call upon God forcefully! And let all persons stop their evil behavior and the violence that’s under their control!” He thought, Who knows? God may see this and turn from his wrath, so that we might not perish. God saw what they were doing—that they had ceased their evil behavior. So God stopped planning to destroy them, and he didn’t do it. (Jonah 3.4-10)

• When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him … One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus … said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23.33a,42-43)

• We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners. God listens to anyone who is devout and does God’s will. (John 9.31)

• There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius … He and his whole household were pious, Gentile God-worshippers. He gave generously to those in need among the Jewish people and prayed to God constantly. One day … he clearly saw an angel from God in a vision. The angel came to him and said, “Cornelius!” Startled, he … replied, “What is it, Lord?” The angel said, “Your prayers and your compassionate acts are like a memorial offering to God.” (Acts 10.1-4)

Open

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

1. Which is better, your hearing or your listening? Explain.

2. I refuse to listen to anyone who ________.

Dig

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

1. “The people of Nineveh” (Jonah 4) weren’t Jewish? How is it God responded to them?

2. We’re all sinners so, what kind of sinners does God not hear (John 9.31)?

3. List what those in the texts above did (or stopped doing) that fortified their prayers.

4. Having read all of the texts above, what one word comes to mind that best describes what all the people mentioned in those texts that God heard had in common?

Reflect

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

1. How does it make you feel to know God hears the prayers of all who seek him?

2. What can believers do to could encourage those yet to believe to talk to God?

3. What do believers do that discourages those yet to believe from talking to God?

4. Which would you rather God know you for: your track record or where you are now?

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