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Prayer: Opening Your Heart to God

(Paperback)
$7.99 - Online Price

Overview

It s time to make time for God. The Creator of the universe wants to have a dynamic relationship with you. The key is prayer. Authentic, courageous, direct communication with God. Each session in Prayer will give you a new window of insight. You ll receive courage to lift dangerous prayers with a confident heart. You ll discover how to handle the disappointment of unanswered prayer. And you ll be moved to a depth of honesty in prayer that will surprise you. If you long for a spiritual life that is deep, fruitful, and profoundly real, these studies will help you draw heart to heart with God. Interactions---a powerful and challenging tool for building deep relationships between you and your group members, and you and God. Interactions is far more than another group Bible study. It's a cutting-edge series designed to help small group participants develop into fully devoted followers of Christ."

Details

  • SKU: 9780310266006
  • UPC: 025986266004
  • SKU10: 0310266009
  • Title: Prayer: Opening Your Heart to God
  • Series: Interactions Small Group
  • Qty Remaining Online: 56
  • Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Company
  • Date Published: Jul 2005
  • Pages: 72
  • Weight lbs: 0.26
  • Dimensions: 9.04" L x 6.03" W x 0.23" H
  • Features: Table of Contents, Price on Product
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical; Theometrics | Mainline;
  • Category: STUDY GUIDE
  • Subject: Prayer

Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

Session

The Privilege of Prayer

THE BIG PICTURE

I want to begin this small group session by asking you to play a word association game. You don't have to say anything out loud at this point, simply think about what your first response is when you hear the word prayer. What comes to your mind when you hear this word?

I suspect some people think of guilt. You might feel you don't pray enough. Maybe you used to pray more than you do now, but you've become too busy. You have broken out of all the patterns that used to serve you so well, and you feel guilty for not keeping them up.

Maybe what comes to your mind is being frustrated. You have been praying diligently and it seems like nothing happens. You cry out, but all you get is silence. You lift your voice to God and you feel as if it falls on deaf ears.

Possibly the word that comes to your mind is apathetic. You are willing to sit in this group and listen, but you don't have any real strong feelings about prayer. Maybe you tried prayer in the past and it left you cold. Now you don't really care a whole lot about it.

Or maybe the word prayer brings to mind being fearful. You don't really know how to pray. You are terrified about the possibility that someone in a group like this might ask you to pray out loud. The very thought causes your throat to get dry and your hands to get sweaty. You feel like your words are clumsy while everyone else prays so naturally.

It has been my experience over the years that whenever I ask a group of people how they feel about prayer, there is always a wide range of responses. Some are very positive and others can be quite negative. However, in most cases the topic of prayer does evoke some kind of response.

A WIDE ANGLE VIEW

1 What kinds of visual images come to your mind when you hear the word prayer?

A BIBLICAL PORTRAIT

Read Luke 18:1-8

Read Snapshot "A Contrast, Not a Comparison"

A CONTRAST, NOT A COMPARISON

Jesus told the story of the widow and the judge in order to motivate people to pray. Often people read this story as a comparison: The woman represents us and the judge represents God. I don't think this is an accurate interpretation. At the end of the story Jesus says something that tips us off to what the story is really about. He says, "And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly" (Luke 18:7-8a). This is a tip-off to the fact that this story is not a comparison; rather, it is a brilliantly devised, cleverly communicated study in contrast.

Jesus was saying that we are not like the widow. As a matter of fact, we are totally unlike, maybe even the opposite of the widow. She was forgotten, abandoned, disconnected, and had no access to the judge. We, on the other hand, are in the family of God if we are in a relationship with Jesus Christ. We are sons and daughters of God. We have been adopted into His family through Christ. We have a favored position before God.

In the same way, God is nothing like the judge. He is not stoic, uncaring, seated behind some intimidating bench. He is not heartless and disconnected. He is not moved to act because He is sick and tired of our nagging. Instead, He loves His people and is deeply concerned about them. We matter to Him, and He wants to answer our prayers.

2 If this story is read as a comparison, what do you learn about:

God (how He feels about us)

Us (as people approaching God in prayer)

The reason God answers prayer

3 If this story is read as a contrast, what do you learn about:

God (how He feels about us)

Us (as people approaching God in prayer)

The reason God answers prayer

SHARPENING THE FOCUS

Read Snapshot "A Direct Line"

A DIRECT LINE

I remember something my dad arranged for me and the rest of the kids in our family while we were growing up. My father was a very successful, eccentric, and adventurous businessman who traveled all over the world. There were a lot of people fighting for his time. When you called his office, you had to go through the switchboard and a couple of secretaries before you were able to talk with him. But he arranged to have a private line right on his desk and gave out that number to each of his children. He would often say to us, "Now kids, call me at work, because I would love to hear from you anytime."

My dad died almost twenty years ago, but I can still give you the phone number to that private line. I will take that number to my grave, because I used it hundreds of times. Every time I called I would say, "Are you busy, Dad?" "No, no," he would say, "I'm not busy. Thanks for calling me, Billy. What's on your mind?" Having that direct access communicated value to me.

Over the years I have learned that I have this same kind of access to my heavenly Father. He treats me as a favored son, and He is never too busy to talk with me. As a matter of fact, He is always glad when I dial in!

4 How does it make you feel when you realize that you have a direct line of communication to the throne room of God?

If this is true, what keeps us from "dialing in" more often?

Read Snapshot "The Heart of God"

THE HEART OF GOD

In the story recorded in Luke 18, Jesus described the crooked judge as unrighteous, unfair, disrespectful, uncaring, preoccupied, and totally disinterested in the needs of the widow. Why do you think Jesus went to such great pains to describe the judge? Because He wanted us to know that our heavenly Father is totally unlike that character. Our God is righteous, holy, responsive, tenderhearted, sympathetic, and kind.

We don't have to wrench a blessing from the white knuckles of a tightfisted God. From cover to cover the Bible teaches that God is giving, encouraging, nurturing, and empowering. He loves to bestow good things on His children.

5 God is deeply interested in you. He cares about every detail of your life. How have you experienced the care of God in some of the "little" areas of your life?

6 How has God proved His ability to provide for you in the "big" areas of life?

7 If the story of the widow and the judge is a study in contrasts, how might this impact your prayer life?

8 What is one need you are lifting to God in prayer at this time in your life?

What is one joy for which you are thanking Him?

PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE

Using the Direct Line

God has given us a direct line to His throne room. He wants to hear about our joys, victories, and successes as well as about our burdens, concerns, fears, and needs. Through Jesus Christ we can approach Him in prayer at any time. Sadly, we often fail to dial in.

Set aside a specific amount of time to talk with God each day. (It might be only a few minutes.) Then establish a set time to connect with God. It could be early in the morning, over your lunch hour, or in the evening. Commit to dialing in and talking with God every day until your group meets again.

Tell Somebody

Take time in the coming week to tell one person what you have learned about the privilege of prayer. Let them know they have a loving Father who has given them a direct line through Jesus Christ. Who will hold you accountable to follow through on this?

(Continues.)

Reviews

Also in "Interactions Small Group" Series

Excellent Living: Giving God Your Best [Paperback] (Dec 2009) $7.99
Influence: Maximizing Your Impact for God [Paperback] (Dec 2009) $7.99
Jesus: Seeing Him More Clearly [Paperback] (Jul 2005) $7.99
Marriage: Building Real Intimacy [Paperback] (Jul 2005) $7.99
Reaching Out: Sharing God's Love Naturally [Paperback] (Jul 2005) $7.99

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