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Notes

Communicating Through Prayer Commentary &


Suggestions for Leaders
You will find several sections in each of the
Introduction
studies in this series, including:
Our relationship with God, like our personal relation- 1) Building Community—Introduces the
ships, has requirements for health and growth. Prayer subject in a fun way, provides an opportu-
is an essential part of this relationship, becoming as nity to get to know one another better and
vital as breathing is to health. We may not realize that creates openness as you begin to share
we are doing it, and yet it is an absolute necessity for answers to the study questions.
life. In the same way, we need to be in a constant state 2) Questions to Consider—Draws students
into the passage and poses questions for
of prayer in order to become spiritually strong and
how to apply the scriptures. Try to draw
healthy followers of Christ. the entire group into participating, not
allowing a few to dominate.
Building Community: 3) Life Application Exercises—Challenges par-
(As the group gets started, have members share from the questions below.) ticipants to be doers of the Word. Help the
• What are the three-four essentials for a great dating relationship or individuals to find the appropriate exercise
friendship? for application. Be sure to ask for an update
• What are some essential qualities of effective communication with at the start of the following week’s study.
another person? 4) Key Verse—A scripture that captures a
• Considering your communication with God, what suggestions do you central idea for the study and could be
think He would make for improvement? memorized by individuals in the group.
5) Taking It Further—Provides references and
Read Matthew 6:5–13 as a group. The Lord’s Prayer is a model, not as a substi- web resources for optional further study.
tute, for our prayer life. We praise God for His work in our lives and in the world This section offers optional material for days
while giving thanks for meeting our daily needs. and weeks after the initial study.

Let’s look together at the various parts of Jesus’ model prayer. Prayer, through our relationship with
• “Our Father in heaven,” indicates that God is not only a God of majesty, Christ, is not to be a “straitjacket” experi-
but that He knows each of us by name and wants us to have a vibrant ence where we have to fulfill requirements
and active relationship with Him. He loves us as a father loves his child. in order for God to listen. Scripture teaches
God’s omnipotent (all powerful) and omni-
• “Hallowed be your name,” suggests that He be respected and treated scient (all knowing) power and how God’s
holy. The term “hallowed” means sacred, holy and/or blessed. He is our power can change circumstances and rela-
King. tionships. He tells us in Philippians 4:6 that
• “Your kingdom come,” refers to God’s spiritual reign. He wants to reside through prayer and petition, with thanksgiv-
in each of our hearts and in the world–both on heaven and on earth. ing, we are to present our requests to God.
He wants to be active in our lives and loves it
• “Your will be done,” helps us to remember God is in control. He will when we come to Him in prayer.
accomplish His purposes. Praying this way underscores our desire to
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus ad-
place God’s will above our personal agendas.
dresses prayer by directing the disciples,
• “Give us this day our daily bread,” reminds us He is the great Provider. “This, then, is how you should pray” (Mat-
Think of the references in the Bible to “bread” and God as the great thew 6:9). The religious leaders and some
Provider. (For example, consider the Old Testament’s account of the of the people wanted to be seen in public as
manna provided for the Israelites and the New Testament’s story about “holy” so those in their circles would highly
the feeding of the 5000.) Jesus is the bread of heaven, providing all we regard them. Jesus, however, saw through
need for sustaining life. their motives and used this as a “teachable
moment.” He wanted the disciples and the
people to understand that prayer is not for
public “show,” but is a private dialogue with
the Father.

This resource made possible by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. 1


Notes
Communicating Through Prayer
Commentary &
• “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors,” teaches
us that forgiveness is not an act but an attitude. This attitude should We should enter into a prayerful relation-
be reflected through our actions. As we seek God’s forgiveness for our ship before our Father in heaven with a
actions, we should also remember that He calls us to be sensitive to for- sincere heart and pure motives. It is “wrong
give others. to pray in public if we are not in the habit of
praying in private”
• “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” The Bible Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition
uses the word temptation as a synonym for “testing.” Jesus may be teach- Commentary (1989), (p.25).
ing us here to pray that we will not fail the test instead of selfishly pray-
ing for Him to spare us from the temptation altogether. Did You Notice?
1. The purpose of prayer is to glorify God
and to be obedient as He chooses to use
us in accomplishing His will on earth.
2. It is significant to note that there are no
singular pronouns in this prayer – all are
plural, i.e. “Our Father . . .”
3. This prayer also can be seen as divided
into two parts. The first part, which is
our priority, gives glory to God by hal-
lowing His name and His kingdom. The
second part of this prayer relates to our
personal concerns and needs.

Questions to Consider: SUGGESTION FOR STUDY LEADER: You will


Read Matthew 6:5–13 and answer the questions below: want to preview the questions below to
ensure that you have time to cover the most
1. Why did Jesus say about the hypocrites, “…they had received their important ones and allow time for group
reward in full” (v.5)? discussion. (There are probably more ques-
2. Why do you think Jesus told His disciples to pray in private? tions than you will have time to cover in an
3. What does it mean to “babble like pagans” (v.7)? hour study.) Mark questions that you want
4. Note the three uses of the phrase “when you pray” in the passage to cover and keep the group moving through
(vv.5–7). What insights can you gain from this repeated usage? the study. Pray that God will grant wisdom in
5. What are the essential elements of the Lord’s Prayer? Which are harder knowing when to move to another question.
for you to put into practice? Which of these elements come naturally?
6. Why do you think the prayer begins as it does in verse 9?
a
To forgive somebody is to say one way or
7. Can believers participate in fulfilling the request, “Your kingdom come?” another, “You have done something unspeak-
If so, how? able, and by all right I should call it quits
8. What is one area of your life where it is hard to honestly say to God, between us. Both my pride and my principles
“Your will be done?” Relationships? Finances? Forgiveness? The future? demand no less. However, although I make
9. What is your typical response to having to depend on “daily bread”? Is no guarantees that I will be able to forget
depending upon God for our daily needs that important? Why or why not? what you’ve done and though we may both
carry the scars for life, I refuse to let it
10. Why, if God freely forgives, do we often have trouble accepting and
stand between us. I still want you for my
offering forgiveness? When is it especially difficult for you to extend
friend.”
forgiveness?a
To accept forgiveness means to admit
11. How does unresolved guilt inhibit our communication with God?
that you’ve done something unspeakable that
12. Is there a difference between temptation and testing?
needs to be forgiven, and thus both parties
(Note James 1:12–15). How do you explain this difference?
must swallow the same thing: their pride.
13. What does 1 Corinthians 10:13 tell us about temptation?
. . For both parties, forgiveness means the
14. What is the difference between using the Lord’s Prayer as a model rather
freedom again to be at peace inside their
than a substitute for our prayer life?
own skins and to be glad in each other’s
15. How can your personal prayer life become as natural and necessary as
presence.
breathing?

This resource made possible by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. 2


Notes
Communicating Through Prayer
&
Commentary
Life Application Exercises: (Select one or more)
1. Find a quiet place and make a special effort to go there three or four
times this week to read and meditate on Matthew 6:5–13. Each time you
do this, choose a different line of the Lord’s Prayer and take the oppor-
tunity to journal your thoughts and prayers to God. Share your insights
with someone who serves as a mentor to you or someone in your Bible
study group.
2. Spend time with the prayer of Jesus in John 17 (known as the “High
Priestly Prayer”). What do you learn about Jesus’ priorities in this prayer?
How can you join Jesus in these concerns?
3. Look for the prayers of Paul as you read Ephesians. What are his con-
cerns? Use the prayers from Ephesians to direct your prayer life to God
and toward the needs of others.

Key Verse:
“But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your
Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Matthew 6:6

Taking It Further:
*Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God, Spire Books, 1967.
Oswald Chambers, Devotions for a Deeper Life, Zondervan Publishing House,
1986.
Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Prayer: Experiencing God, The Praying Life
Foundation, 1989.
Jennifer Kennedy Dean, He Restores My Soul, Broadman and Holman
Publishers, 1999.
Jennifer Kennedy Dean, He Leads Me Beside Still Waters, Broadman and
Holman Publishers, 2001.
*Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, editors, Devotional Classics,
Harper San Francisco, 1993.
*Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, editors, Spiritual Classics, Harper
San Francisco, 1993.
*Richard J. Foster, Prayer, Harper San Francisco, 1964.
*Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray, InterVarsity Press, 1998.
Mother Teresa, No Greater Love, MJF Books, 1997.
Larry Richards, Every Prayer in the Bible, Thomas Nelson Inc. 1998.
(*These books may be most helpful and easily located.)

Online resources:
www.gospelcom.net/eword/search/
Access any Bible chapter, passage, word or phrase in your choice of translations.

This resource made possible by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. 3