Summer on the Mount: Week 8
Welcome and Opening Prayer:
Welcome the group and open together with the Lord’s Prayer (from the New Living Translation):
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.
Following Jesus through the Practice of Secrecy:
As we continue studying the Sermon on the Mount, remember: Jesus’ teachings are describing the type of heart that His disciples are to have, and He calls His followers to a practice of secrecy. In Matthew 6:5-18, Jesus specifically invites His disciples to practice prayer and fasting—and not in a way that seeks public approval but rather honors the Father in secrecy.
Read Matthew 6:5-18
In this passage, Jesus begins by describing a heart that is focused on other people and desires their acclaim, respect, and prestige. When people desire the adoration of others over intimacy and relationship with the Father, they perform all manner of things publicly, including religiosity. But conversely, if your heart desires communion with the Father above all else, then everything you do, including prayer, will be for the Father. You will not be concerned with what people think of you, how you sound, or if you are saying the right things. Rather, you will desire being in the caring, loving presence of God.
- Jesus appears to emphasize secrecy or hiddenness for His disciples. What does He say about secrecy in prayer and fasting?
- Why do you think Jesus makes a distinction here between praying publicly and praying in secret, or fasting in public versus fasting in secret?
- What heart posture do you think the practice of secrecy forms in us over time?
- How might you practice secrecy in your everyday life? What are some common pitfalls you might run into when trying to practice secrecy?
The Lord’s Prayer:
In this passage, Jesus gives us an example of how to pray. This is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer, and it is perhaps the most famous and oft-repeated prayer in the history of the Church. With this prayer, we’re going to practice a prayerful Scripture reading method called Lectio Divina. Take some time to slowly and deliberately pray through the Lord’s Prayer, paying special attention to the words, phrases, and ideas that particularly intrigue or affect you. The whole exercise should take around 7-10 minutes.
- To begin, sit in silence for a minute, quieting your hearts together. After a minute or two, have someone slowly read the Lord’s Prayer aloud. As this person reads, listen and notice what word or phrase stands out to you.
- After a moment, have someone read through the Lord’s Prayer a second time. Again, listen and notice the word or phrase that stands out to you. Repeat it to yourself in your head. When they are done reading, go around and share with one another the word or phrase that stood out to you.
- When everyone who wants to share has, read the Lord’s Prayer aloud a third time, focusing on the word or phrase that stands out. Sit for a minute in silence repeating the word or phrase in your head, and ask Jesus why this word or phrase has stood out to you. What invitation is there in it for you? How might you live into this word or phrase in your day-to-day life?
- What was that experience of Lectio Divina with the Lord’s Prayer like for you?
- How is this similar or different from how you have interacted with or prayed this prayer of Jesus in the past?
- What invitations, if any, did you sense from Jesus as you listened to and prayed this prayer?
Read Matthew 7:24-27:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Jesus culminates His Sermon on the Mount with this parable about the importance of practically applying His teaching. Split into pairs and discuss, support, and then pray.
- What stood out to you from today’s discussion and from Sunday’s sermon?
- What are practical ways you can apply what you noticed? (For example, is there a conversation to have, a commitment to make, or request for help you need to make?)
The sermon next Sunday, July 30th, will be on Matthew 6:19-24. In order to be prepared for Sunday’s sermon and CG next week, try to read these four verses daily and take note of how they resonate with you.