So much of communication is done through the non-verbal cues we give each other. The verbal information matters, but we communicate through more than our words. So too God communicates with us through far more than just an audible booming voice from heaven.
- Consider your expectations when it comes to receiving from God. Is receiving from Him an added bonus in prayer? Is it the essential element of prayer that must occur for you when you pray? If you want to change your expectations, how will you do this?
- If you were to receive from God how would you like to receive from Him? How have you received from Him previously. Is there a pattern in how you receive?
- What practices could you implement to strengthen your ability to recognise when God is speaking to you (eg. journaling, silence, solitude, testing with others, actioning what you suspect is him)? What would you like to implement this week?
Read Acts 16:6-10
- In what ways were Paul and his companions receiving from God? Were they getting it right at each point or would you describe it more as trial and error?
- Can you recall moments in your life when your experience of receiving from God has been something like this story? Upon reflection, can you see what God was up to in that season of your life?
- If you were Paul, how would you test the dream in order to decide if it was God speaking or not?
The Lord’s prayer is Jesus’ example of just how many different focus points our prayers can take. See the variety of prayer Jesus offers us.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” – FOCUS: Prayer of Adoration and honour to God
“your kingdom come” – FOCUS: Prayer of focus on God’s Kingdom work
“your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” – FOCUS: Prayer of submission to God’s will over our own agenda
“Give us today our daily bread.” – FOCUS: Prayer of request for our needs for today
“And forgive us our debts” – FOCUS: Prayer of confession for our sins
“as we also have forgiven our debtors.” – FOCUS: Prayer of forgiveness towards others
“And lead us not into temptation,” – FOCUS: Prayer of empowerment and self discipline
“but deliver us from the evil one” – FOCUS: Prayer of protection
Consider these varied focus points in Jesus’ prayer.
- Is there a particular focus with which you often pray?
- Is there a focus with which you have not consciously prayed before?
- What habits of prayer would you like to initiate today to widen and vary your focus in prayer?
- Who could join you in this experience?
Prayer is about being honest with yourself and with God about your true thoughts and emotions. We experience the most refreshing interactions with God when we are able to constantly come to him in raw and real ways. This was Jesus’ practice when he prayed.
- What grabs your attention in these verses? What questions does it prompt for you?
- What is your real response to Jesus’ words to his disciples and his prayers in this passage?
- Have you experienced prayer that is like a wrestle between two opposing desires? What is this like? Would you have classed this sort of wrestling as prayer or something else?
- How can you be more real as you pray? Are there aspects of your life to which your prayers just don’t go?
Prayer should not be limited to an allocated time slot on any given day. It is the conduit of the life-giving relationship God invites us into through his Holy Spirit. The ongoing dialogue of every thought and every moment with God can be enriching, guiding, hope-inspiring and wisdom-building as we follow Jesus’ example.
- What do the writers of these Psalms do to remain focused on God’s presence in their lives?
- What are the outcomes of their pursuit to be in constant dialogue with God?
- What habits could you put in place to replicate the claims of these Psalms and practise constant dialogue with God?
Read John 14:5-11
Jesus appears to be both making a statement about his divinity and also his daily practice of prayer in these verses. He claims that his everyday behaviour is the nature of God being revealed and that he never acts on his own accord but only by the guidance of his Father. Notice that, practically speaking, this claim would require ongoing dialogue through every moment of the day. Prayer would not be an act that is completed but the very nature of who Jesus is.
- How does Jesus’ life give you a model for prayer in your own life? Can you recall other times when Jesus prayed or spoke about prayer? What context does this give you about his approach to prayer?
Discover the living word.
Real conversation with God.
Giving, and serving in counter cultural ways.