Everyday Mystic: Prayer (09.02.18)
Facilitator’s Note: This material includes time recommendations for each section totaling approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes. Please pace yourself to complete all of it for a more comprehensive group experience.
Opening Prayer & Silence (5 Minutes)
One person open the group in prayer, and then sit in 5 minutes of silence with God.
Understanding Prayer (30 Minutes)
Prayer is a practice that brings us into everyday union with God, and Jesus made a special point to teach His disciples how to pray. As modern-day followers of Christ, we continue in the beautiful Christian tradition of learning how to pray. Last week in meditation, we focused on hearing from God through His word. This week’s focus on prayer is about how we speak to God. We let Him know the desires, worries, fears, thoughts, and hopes in our lives. In the Christian prayer tradition of lectio divina (or divine reading), we allow reading the Bible to guide us into meditation with God, and then we speak our prayers to God. This can take many forms depending on what’s coming to mind and heart. We might praise, confess, give thanks, intercede for others, make requests, or seek help.
Read these passages about prayer (Matthew 6:5-15, Philippians 4:4-7, and Psalm 32:3-7) and then discuss (30 minutes):
- According to this sampling of passages about prayer, how are followers of God meant to pray? What do God’s people pray about?
- What are you curious about when it comes to prayer? How might Jesus want to teach you how to pray like He did with His disciples?
- What tend to be the primary things you pray about? What would it look like to expand your horizon in prayer?
Praying as Jesus Taught (30 Minutes)
Let’s take the Lord’s Prayer as an example and let it guide and structure our group prayer. Take about 30 minutes to enjoy corporate prayer together aloud. Have one person read the Leader section, and then the whole group will read the All section. In the Respond section, one at a time pray aloud how this verse and question prompt you personally to speak to God. Keep your response prayers brief to make room for others to voice their prayers.
Leader: Let’s voice our praise to God, as Jesus taught.
All: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
Respond: What words of praise do you want to speak to God?
Leader: Let’s voice our agreement with God’s will.
All: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Respond: What words of agreement do you want to speak to God? How do you want to see God’s Kingdom come in your life and in the world around you?
Leader: Let’s voice our needs and intercession to God.
All: “Give us today our daily bread.”
Respond: What requests for help do you have for God? How are you prompted to intercede and request God’s help on another’s behalf?
Leader: Let’s voice our confession and forgiveness to God.
All: “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Respond: What sins or offenses do you want to confess to God? Who has offended you or who have you resented that you will choose to forgive?
Leader: Let’s voice our dependence on God.
All: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Respond: How do you want God to deliver you from temptation or evil in your heart or in your circumstances?
Leader prays a finishing prayer.
Discussion (20 minutes)
- How did you feel after praying through the Lord’s Prayer aloud and allowing the words to prompt you to speak to God?
- Rather than praying silently and alone, we prayed aloud and as a group. How was it for you to pray this way? What did you enjoy about it? What were you challenged by? What did you learn?
- How have you been invited into a renewed or growing prayer life through this group time?
A Praying Church (15 Minutes)
As an entire church, and just as we practice meditation, we want speaking our prayers to be an everyday part of our lives with Jesus. Last week, we stepped into practicing 10 minutes of silent meditation each day.
- How was your practice of meditation in this last week? What are you learning from it?
Now we’ll add prayer to this meditation time. Perhaps midday or at the end of your day, allow one of these prayers from Christian tradition to invite you into prayer. Choose one to pray with everyday.
- The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:5-15)
- Mary’s praise in learning that she will give birth to Jesus the Messiah (Luke 1:46-55)
- The Trinity Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more. Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Amen.
- The Prayer of St. Francis (below)
At next week’s group, we will have a chance to share about our time meditating and praying. So consider keeping notes or a journal to share.
Our city is named after St. Francis, and it’s our hope as a church to live into our spiritual heritage sovereignly laid out by God. Let’s close by praying the prayer of St. Francis aloud together:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life