11 Aug Discussion Guide: And He Answered Me Week 2
Community Groups Vision
If you have time and feel this would help the new people in your community group better understand what you are trying to accomplish as a group then take 2 minutes to show this video.
This week we continue our new series titled And He Answered Me. We will be looking at the topic of prayer. Prayer is something we see all through Scripture, and yet it is something that many people who call themselves Christians do not practice on a regular basis. Could it be that we have misunderstood what prayer is and what God has intended it to accomplish in our lives? Let’s find out as we discuss this together.
If you were to win the lottery what would you do with the money? Why?
“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.”
Why do you think Jesus’ disciples wanted Him to teach them how to pray?
Why do you think “hallowing” God’s name is at the beginning of Jesus’ model for prayer?
Is it possible to pray in such a way that God is not at the center of your prayer?
How can you know the difference?
Hallowing the name of God is essential to a healthy prayer life because it ensures that our hearts and minds are aimed in the right direction when we come to God to make our requests made known. The point of prayer is not to treat God like some geenie in a bottle just waiting to grant our every wish, it is to connect to the heart of God so that our hearts might be transformed and conformed for the purpose of accomplishing His will for us and for this world. If we are made to bear His image, to reflect who He is to the world, then our finite minds and deceptive hearts most definitley need proper instruction and ample power to carry out that purpose. We cannot reflect the image of a perfectly loving, just, and righteous God to the world apart from a properly ordered relationship with Him ourselves.
This is why Hallowing His name is so important. Before I ever start asking God for the things I feel I need I must have the correct heart posture that He is the thing I need most, He is the very center of my existance. If I do not have that heart posture then I will begin asking for things that reflect my own glory, or produce my own happiness, instead, and the moment I do that I am now asking God to give me things that directly contradict His will and desire for my life. As a good Father He will not answer those prayers, and if He does then it is solely for the purpose of teaching me the Truth that chasing after anything more than Him will produce heartbreak and destruction in my life.
Yet, this is how many people approach prayer every day. We only pray when we want something that we think will make us happy, or when we want God to take away something that threatens the happiness I am currently experiencing. This model of prayer ultimately reveals that I want God’s stuff more than I want Him. So, how can we know the difference between praying with God at the center or praying with our own desires at the center?
It’s quite simple, actually. If you find yourself getting frustrated, resentful, depressed, or distant from God because your prayers are not being answered the way you think they should, the way you would answer them if you were God, then you are most likely seeking God’s stuff more than you are seeking God’s heart. If, however, you find a sense of contentment and joy knowing that whether God’s answer to your prayer is yes, no, or not now, because you know that regardless of the outcome you still have Him then you are praying from the proper posture and relationship with God being the best answer you could ever receive regardless of what the prayer is.
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds praised most, while the cranks, misfits, and malcontents praised least… The healthy and unaffected man, even if luxuriously brought up and widely experienced in good cookery, could praise a very modest meal: the dyspeptic and the snob found fault with all. Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible.”
Why do you think praising God above everything else produces an inner peace and joy in the human heart?
Why would praising anything more than God possibly produce discontentment, or even malcontentment, in a person’s life?
Praising anything, or putting anything at the center of your life, other than God will always produce discontentment, or even malcontentment, in your life because created things can never fully deliver the joy and contentment that we were designed to only experience and find in our Creator God. The whole point of creation is to give us experiences that ultimately point us to the reality of who God is. The point of food is not just to fill our bellies, but to remind us that we have a greater spiritual hunger that can only be filled by something outside of ourselves. The purpose in tastebuds is that as we experience the pleasure of sweet, sour, tangy, and bitter we might have a tangible reminder of what it means to taste and see that God is good. The point of the beauty of a sunset is to remind us where ultimate beauty comes from.
Therefore, if creation is only meant to point us to the Creator, it can never provide for us what were only meant to receive from God. So, when we chase after created things, or in the context of prayer simply ask God for His stuff rather for more of Him, we will always end up eventually frustrated because even if we get the stuff we asked for it can only provide temporary satisfaction at best, and bring about our own destruction at worst. There is nothing more disheartening than getting the thing you were certain would bring you happiness and realizing it too has failed you.
“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread…”
What does asking Gof for “Our Daily Bread” mean?
Why is it important to “Hallow” God’s name first, before asking for the things we feel we need to accomplish His will for our lives?
“Our daily bread,” does not mean asking God for whatever we want. We have to remember Jesus puts this part of the prayer model after hallowing God’s name, putting Him at the center of our lives. The presupposition here is that when God is seated on the throne of your heart then you will ask Him for the things you feel you need to accomplish His will in your life not just the things you think will make you happy. The request is being made in the context of worshipping Him.
Also, the mention of “daily bread” is a reference back to the book of Exodus when the people grumbled because of their hunger. God has just delivered them from the slavery of Egypt. He had taken them through the Red Sea. He had lead them by pillar of smoke and fire. He had called them His people. He had promised them their own land. He had given them His Law, instructions on what it meant to be the fulfillment of His promise to Abraham to be a blessing to the nations. In short, God had told them who He had created and called them to be and how to go about fulfilling that vocation. When hunger threatened that calling and the people grew weary, God sent Manna from heaven to sustain them. The “Daily Bread” was for the purpose of carrying the Israelites through their day so that they might continue on in the calling for which God had liberated them. As the book of Exodus goes on we see the people growing discontent with God’s provision of daily bread and demanding meet because it would make them happier. They had lost sight of what God’s provision was really for and began to demand He give them what they wanted rather than what they needed. So, God sends the quail, so much so that the Israelites eventually begin to resent the very meet they asked for because they had so gorged themselves on it thinking it would give them something the bread could not.
Jesus’ use of the words, “Our Daily Bread” are telling us that when we ask God for “stuff” in prayer, it should be in the context of trusting Him as our Father, submitting to Him as above all else, and asking Him to give us what we need to sustain us and carry us through for the purpose of being who He has called us to be. This is why the “name it and claim it” movement, or the “prosperity gospel” are so dangerous. When we think “Our Daily Bread” means asking God for anything we want then we may end up getting quail and having it come out our noses. But, when we ask God to give us what we need to accomplish His calling for our lives then we will find that we have exactly what we need, when we need it, to be who He has made us to be, and in that we find ultimate contentment and joy.
“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven…”
Why do you think Jesus wants us to approach the God of the Universe with the attitude of being His child and rather than any other attitude we might approach Him with?
How does approaching God in prayer as your Father make you feel?
How might the Gospel give us the courage to trust God as a Good Father with our hearts and desires, regardless of what our experience with our earthly fathers might have been?