How to Pray // Matthew 6:9-15

Watch the sermon here.

1. In his sermon, Rob pointed out that every word in the Lord’s Prayer is significant. For example, in the opening phrase “Our Father,” the word “our” implies community. Share several things that you have in common with the other believers when you pray together, which make group prayer so special.

2. The location that our prayer is directed to is also important: “Our Father in heaven.” Read Psalm 11:4 together, and discuss the importance of our prayer being directed to heaven, as it is the place where sovereign decisions are made.

3. Verse 10 then brings the prayer down to earth: “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” As Rob described, this refers to the “here and now,” not just “your kingdom come” in the future. Share some things that are of concern to you right now and that you would like your house church to bring to God in prayer.

4. How does verse 11, “Give us today our daily bread,” apply today? What is our responsibility in answering the prayers of those who lack (see 1 John 3:17; Galatians 6:10; James 2:14-17)? Share  some practical ways you have helped answer the prayers of others in this way, on a local or global level.

5. Our biggest challenge may be verse 12b, “Forgive us our debts
as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Forgiving others sometimes comes at a great cost to us. Why is that? Why then should we forgive (Ephesians 4:32)? How is Christ our example in forgiveness (Luke 23:34)?

For personal reflection at home:

A. How often do the apostles Paul and James refer to “God our Father” in their letters to the churches? What do you think their purpose was in doing this?

B. Most of us don’t need to be convinced that a stronger prayer life would significantly change us for the better. Why, then, are we so slow to embrace this? Reflect on this.

C. The final hymn last Sunday was “What a friend we have in Jesus.” Each verse in this hymn ends by reminding us that we should take  “everything to God in prayer.” Consider memorizing this hymn and singing it to yourself several times this week (see Ephesians 5:18b-19).

How Not to Pray // Matthew 6:5-8

Watch the sermon here.

1. As we begin our new series 'Teach Us to Pray,' take a few moments to share with one another what comes to mind when you think about prayer. How would you describe your prayer life in this season? What about prayer do you find compelling and life-giving? What about it is challenging or overwhelming?

2. In contrast a hypocritical and self-focused practice of prayer, Jesus invites his disciples into an experience of prayer as genuine communion with God as their Heavenly Father (see verses 5-6) . What might it look like to relate to God as our Father when we pray? How does understanding our identity as children of God change the way that we pray?

3. Lucas described the way that prayer is an opportunity to "rehearse the gospel." In what ways is this true? How would you explain this to someone else?

4. In verses 7-8, Jesus explains that his followers need not try to manipulate God into hearing them through mindless repetition and empty religious words because "your Father knows what you need before your ask him." Why is this significant? What does this tell us about prayer?

5. Read James 4:2. How often are you aware of the reality that prayer causes things to happen that would not otherwise happen? How would truly believing this impact the way we pray? Consider the reflection below from E.M. Bounds, a 19th century Methodist pastor:

“Few Christians have anything but a vague idea of the power of prayer; fewer still have any experience of that power. The Church seems almost wholly unaware of the power God puts into her hand; this spiritual carte blanche on the infinite resources of God’s wisdom and power is rarely, if ever, used—never used to the full measure of honouring God.”