Do you ever wonder how to pray? Maybe you feel inadequate or unskilled to pray to God. Maybe, you are simply out of practice. There is good news for you! Jesus' disciples already asked the question of how we should pray. Because they asked, we have an example. What follows the disciples' request of "teach us to pray" in Luke 11 is Jesus' model prayer. This prayer is found in Luke 11 and Matthew 6, but today we are going to study the prayer written in Matthew 6. As we study, let's learn how to pray from Jesus' own example.
Who is someone in your life that you call when you need prayer?
1. Do you ever have difficulty praying? Why or why not?
2. Read Matthew 6:5-13. What are the things that stand out from Jesus' teaching on prayer?
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
3. Read Matthew 19:16-22. How was the rich young man in this story living for his possessions rather than God? What is keeping you from fully committing to and serving God.
Please Note: If you have a strained, or even nonexistent, relationship with your earthly father, it may be hard for you to relate to God as Father. That is completely understandable. Even in the difficulty, take comfort in the fact that God is your perfect Heavenly Father. Where your earthly father has failed, God has been and always will be successful.
Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
“Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” the man asked.
And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”
Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
4. Do you have a hard time praying "not my will, but Yours, God"? Why or why not?
5. What is something in the past that you prayed for that you are now grateful that God did not give you?
6. Describe a time when you were in great need, and God provided for you. How does God's past provision affect the way you pray today?
7. What need or desire are you praying for right now? Do you expect God to provide? Why or why not?
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. He did not tell them how. Instead, He showed them how. His prayer was not a long, complicated prayer. Instead, it was short, clear, and applicable. It reminds us of whom we are praying to and His ability to care for our needs. It also reminds us to trust God's plan for our lives when we do not understand. When Jesus modeled this prayer, He showed us that prayer is not complicated. We are all capable of praying.
Many of us want stronger prayer lives. The only way to grow in this area is to keep praying. This growth will take deliberate discipline. Take time now to make a plan to pray deliberately this week. Set aside a specific time and place you will commit to pray each day. Share your plan with your group and ask your group members to hold you accountable. As a group, commit to praying for each other this week as you seek to become people who persistently pray.
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For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.