Many people talk about prayer—this idea of talking to God, but for some it can be an elusive practice. What is prayer truly meant to look like? What is its purpose? If we begin to seek answers concerning what prayer is all about and what it can lead to in our lives, what might we find?
Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.
1. When you were growing up, what messages, if any, do you remember getting about prayer? When is the first time you remember praying?
2. How would you define prayer? What does it mean to you personally?
3. Can you remember a time when you prayed earnestly for something, but what you hoped for didn’t happen? How did you handle that disappointment?
4. Read Psalm 68:5. Has there been a time when God “filled the gaps” in your life? How was God there for you in your time of need?
5. Read Jeremiah 29:13-14. Has there been a time in your life when praying led to you understanding the promise of this scripture more clearly? What did it look like for you to seek God, and what were the realities of your “finding Him”?
6. We learned this week that praying to God is an opportunity to align our hearts to Him and to spend time in relationship with Him. What evidence have you seen of yourself drawing closer to God due to prayer?
7. Prayer can be truly transformative in your life, but for some of us, that can be hard to believe. During this series, over the next three weeks, commit to praying daily to God. If you’re not sure you believe in the whole God or prayer thing yet, pray each day as if what Jesus said is true, and see what happens. And if you are a Christ-follower, make the same commitment to daily prayer, and choose a specific time and a place where you’ll pray each day. At the end of the series and throughout, share with friends and those close to you (life group, running partner, etc.) about what you’re experiencing having committed to this challenge.
Psalm 68:5 – A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Jeremiah 29:13-14 – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
As you look to dig deeper into the topics of this week’s message, consider exploring the article “What is Prayer?” from Questions.org. Here’s an excerpt:
The most basic definition of prayer is “talking to God.” Prayer is not meditation or passive reflection; it is direct address to God. It is the communication of the human soul with the Lord who created the soul. Prayer is the primary way for the believer in Jesus Christ to communicate his emotions and desires with God and to fellowship with God.
Prayer is described in the Bible as seeking God’s favor (Exodus 32:11), pouring out one’s soul to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:15), crying out to heaven (2 Chronicles 32:20), drawing near to God (Psalm 73:28, KJV), and kneeling before the Father (Ephesians 3:14).
Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7). Worry about nothing; pray about everything.
Everything? Yes, God wants us to talk with Him about everything. How often should we pray? The biblical answer is “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).… We can pray under any and all circumstances. Prayer develops our relationship with God and demonstrates our trust and utter dependence upon Him.
Prayer is the Christian’s way of communicating with God. We pray to praise God and thank Him and tell Him how much we love Him. We pray to enjoy His presence and tell Him what is going on in our lives. We pray to make requests and seek guidance and ask for wisdom. God loves this exchange with His children, just as we love the exchange we have with our children. Fellowship with God is the heart of prayer. Too often we lose sight of how simple prayer is really supposed to be.
To read the article in its entirety, go to gotquestions.org/what-is-prayer.html
SPIRITUAL OUTCOMES— gatewaychurch.com/spiritual_outcomes/spiritual-disciplines