Building an Effective Prayer Life (Luke 11:1 – 13)


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SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON

In this week’s sermon, Dr. Charles Montgomery spoke about how we need to take seriously the task of building and reinforcing our prayer life. Prayer can be more than just a Sunday morning church activity or a deterrent for approaching storms, but instead, something we intentionally do every day. Prayer stems out of our relationship with the Father, which we can only have through his Son, Jesus Christ. Charles talks about the pattern of prayer Jesus taught us and we consequently should follow. As a result, we will gain a firm foundation in prayer and fellowship with the Father.

GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED

These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.

1.If you tried to explain prayer to a 6-year old, what words would you use? Do you practice prayer in the same way you would describe it? Please explain.

2.When was the last time God surprised you while you were praying? What was the circumstance and how did God speak to you or touch your life? Please explain.

3.Has anyone practiced prayer in a different belief (religious) system? Why, and/or how, is Christian prayer distinct from prayer performed by individuals in other religions? Please explain.

INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON

1. In 5 minutes or less. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.

2. 2. Read Ephesians 3: 14-20:

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen

•(v. 14) “For this reason…” In chapter 2 and the first half of chapter 3 Paul reminds the Ephesians of all that God is doing in believers individually and as the Church. Read over these chapters for the context of this prayer to the Ephesians.

•(v. 14) The usual position of prayer in Paul’s day was standing, yet Paul specifically points out that he is kneeling before the Father. Discuss the significance of how Paul is approaching the Lord in prayer. How is that different or similar from how you choose to approach God in prayer? Discuss reasons why you or others may find it difficult to pray with the sense of urgency and reverence that Paul displays as he begins to pray for the Ephesians?

•(v. 15) In the Hebrew tradition for God to give creatures their names is not merely to provide them with a label but to determine what they are. Again, what can we learn from Paul’s prayer in his acknowledgment of who God is? Do you feel that you are truly acknowledging God’s power as you pray? Why might this be important?

•(V.v. 16 & 17) Paul requests God’s empowerment by the Spirit for Christ to ‘dwell’ deeply within the heart of the believer through faith. According to Paul, where is this ‘in-dwelling’ derived from? Explain what you think it looks like for Christ to dwell in your heart? Discuss the difference between merely having a knowledge of theological concepts and the work of the Spirit integrating our knowledge of God deeply into our lives.

•In vv. 18 & 19 Paul additionally prays for deep understanding and knowledge of the Love that Christ has for the reader. Discuss the phrase ‘together with all the saints.’ Clearly in western culture there is a tendency to understand and operate individually as opposed to viewing our lives as a part of a larger body. Why might this be and how might it affect our understanding of God’s love for us? Additionally, discuss what it looks like to understand God’s love corporately. How might this play out in the life of your small group?

•A major theme in the book of Ephesians is the unity of the church. A full comprehension of the love of Christ in the church leads to a Church which is united. Does the church today still struggle with unity? Discuss the significance of this. Why might it be important to have unity in the church?

•Paul’s doxology in versus 20 and 21 is unique in that it calls for glory to be given to God through the church. What should our response be to this invitation? What might the character of a church which reflects God’s glory really look like?

3. Please allow time at the end of your group to wait on the Holy Spirit and to pray for one another.

•Pray for a deeper understanding of God’s vision and will for your small group? Pray that God would give you opportunities to share your understanding of the fullness of Christ’s love and pray that His love would continue to be reveled and dwell in your heart.

•Consider Paul’s prayer that the Ephesians would have a deep in-dwelling of Christ’s Love. Do you sense that in your own life? Let the Holy Spirit reveal the areas of your life where He desires to go deeper. Pray for others in your small group or in your daily lives who are struggling to grasp Christ’s great love for them.

•Pray for greater unity in the Church and that the church would be a greater witness of Christ’s Love to unbelievers.


Small Group Leaders, We Need Your Help!!!

We still need 9 people for the 9:00 service, and 5 people for the 11:30 service.

For Lent this year, we are doing a sermon series entitled, “40 Days of Drawing Near to Jesus” where we will be studying the various spiritual disciplines found in the book of Luke, which we hope will help all of us draw near to Jesus. And for Easter weekend, we wanted to do something really special and have live cardboard testimonies as part of our worship time during our services.

If you don’t know what a cardboard testimony is, please click on this link to see an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvDDc5RB6FQ

Here is where we need your help. We are looking for about 100 people from our congregation who would be willing to share a cardboard testimony during our worship time in one of our Easter weekend services (25 people at each of our 4 services). We would like to ask if you would consider having your whole small group (or even just a few people) participate in this together. This would be a great opportunity for your small group to serve together in our church. And it would also be a chance to share the amazing Jesus stories of the people in your small group with our church.

We would like to encourage you to pray about this and talk with your small group and see if this is something that you might want to do together.

Here is one thing you can try: For worship time during your small group, show the video that I referenced above. And then you can ask people to share their own testimonies (just on a sheet of paper) during worship time. And if this is something that was meaningful for the group, you might ask if this is something that your whole group would do together on Easter (in front of 3000 people) to celebrate together what Jesus has done in our midst.

If your group is willing and able to help out in this way, can you please respond back to us at your earliest convenience and let us know how many people from your group will share a cardboard testimony on Easter? As noted above, we are looking for about 100 people.

We still need 9 people for the 9:00 service, and 5 people for the 11:30 service.

To respond, please contact Miriam Gray at 614-259-5235 or Miriam.Gray@vineyardcolumbus.org.