Small Group Curriculum

Trust His Timing

08.10.14 | Sermon Series: Engage


COACHING VIDEO


SMALL GROUP CURRICULUM  (Download PDF)

PREPARATION

Spend the week studying Luke 18:1-8. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.

Determine which discussion points and questions will work best with your group.

Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their receptivity to God’s Word.

Focus on the Main Point. Christ calls His followers to persist in prayer as a means of deepening their joy in Him and dependence on Him.

INTRODUCTION

As your group time begins, use this section to help get the conversation going.

During what situations in daily life are you most likely to lose patience? When was the last time persistence paid off for you?

When have you prayed most persistently for or about something? How was your prayer answered? What did you learn through that process?

In the opening verses of Luke 18, Jesus taught His disciples a story that illustrates the value of persistent prayer. We should persist in prayer, not in order to convince God to act, but because God promises to bring justice to those who seek Him. Prayer is a precious gift from God given to us to deepen our dependence on Him.

LEARN

Unpack the biblical text to discover what Scripture says or means about a particular topic.

HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ LUKE 18:1-5.

In preparing the disciples for His eventual departure, Jesus taught about the spiritual tools available to them as they faced troubling times. Unbeknownst to them, He was preparing them for the rest of their lives. In this text, Jesus encouraged the use of prayer as one of the tools to help them remain steadfast as they awaited His second coming.

What did Jesus say is the point of this parable (v. 1)? What is your main take-away from this parable? 

Why do you think Jesus chose a widow to be the protagonist in this parable?    

What finally made the unjust judge respond to the widow’s plea?

For a period of time, the judge ignored the widow’s requests. Following the widow’s latest request, the judge had second thoughts. He was honest with himself. He admitted his lack of reverence for God and regard for other people. The judge, however, valued his comfort and peace of mind. The widow was constantly pestering him. She continued to cause him trouble. Her unending requests were exhausting him. In order to get rid of the widow before she wore him out, the judge decided to rule in her favor. The phrase “wear me out” can be translated “give me a black eye” (in the sense of annoying him). The judge’s decision was not made because he wanted her to receive a fair judgment; his decision was completely self-serving. He wanted personal relief.

What characteristics of God encourage us to be persistent with our prayers?

Why do you think God wants us to pray with persistence when He already knows our concerns?

Why might we become discouraged when God doesn’t answer our prayers in what we consider a timely manner? Has this ever happened to you?

Knowing that God is faithful, wise, and good helps us persist in prayer when we are tempted to give up. When we persistently pray with an awareness of God’s holy and righteous character, God begins to align our hearts and wills more closely with His. Persistent prayer reveals a heart of faith. When we persevere in prayer, we recognize God’s power and authority in our lives and communicate our dependence on Him. The primary purpose of prayer is not to get God to give us what we want, but rather to deepen our dependence on and delight in God.

HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ LUKE 18:6-8.

According to Jesus, what is the real question revealed by the unjust judge? As you listen to Jesus’ words in verses 6-8, what surprises you? Why?

What does Jesus say about the character of God? What does He say about His disciples? How does what Jesus said encourage faith?

Jesus knew that living now while waiting for His return would be difficult. He knew we would have the temptation to lose heart, be discouraged, and give up on faith. He told this parable to remind us that God will indeed bring justice for His people. He wanted to give a promise of God to encourage us to keep pursuing Him. He wants us to stay in faith. At the end of all our stories, God prevails. He desires, however, that Christians remain focused on Him and committed to seeking Him in prayer.

In what ways does persistence in prayer show God our faith and expectation that He will answer?

How is God like and unlike the judge in this parable (vv. 7-8)?

God does not demand prayer in order to convince Him to act. He swiftly—that is, in His own sure timing—acts to do right. We can be assured that God hears our prayers. He responds to them according to His righteous character. However, we may need persistence to prepare our hearts to receive God’s response.

LIVE

Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives. Create some talking points for the group by looking at the practical implications of the study. Get group members to talk about the real-life implications of the passage. Look at what can be applied specifically to Pinelake.

The widow’s petition is an example of the powerless coming before the powerful. Why is it essential that we see ourselves as powerless and God as powerful? How might this realization change the way you approach God in prayer?

What does the widow teach us about what God values and expects from His followers? How does persistent prayer increase our faith?

 LEAD

Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage impact the way you lead at Pinelake and interact with people outside of Pinelake.

Would you characterize your current prayer life as persistent? Why or why not? What have you done/could you do to develop a persistent prayer life?

Do you regularly pray for God to bring justice to the oppressed? How might your prayer life need to change in order to reflect kingdom values?

What difficult situations or circumstances in your life do you need to trust God’s timing in? How might persistent prayer help you persevere in those situations?

PRAYER

Close in a brief time of prayer, thanking God that He’s concerned about the condition of our hearts and our motives for seeking Him. Pray that we would be persistent in our prayers while trusting in God with both faith and humility. Pray that God would use our prayers to deepen our joy in Christ.

FOLLOW UP

Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following information:

Questions to consider as they continue to reflect on what they learned this week:

    • How is your prayer life? What are your strengths and weaknesses in praying consistently?
    • Honestly evaluate your motives when it comes to prayer. How much room for improvement is in your own life? Are you truly praying persistently with faith?

The challenge to memorize Luke 18:1-8.


COMMENTARY

LUKE 18:1-8

18:1. In spite of interruptions from the crowds and His opponents, Jesus consistently turned back to His disciples to teach them new truths about the kingdom. This time He augmented His teaching on prayer (see 3:21; 5:16; 6:12, 28; 9:18, 28-29; 11:1-13; 20:47; 22:40-46). Prayer is not one quick session of listing needs and expecting immediate results. Prayer is continuing to talk to God with persistence. Prayer is based on absolute faith in God, so it never gives up, knowing God will answer when and where He chooses. Prayer also knows that God expects us to keep on praying until the answer comes.

18:2-5. Another parable illustrates Jesus’ teaching on persistent prayer. An emotionally passive judge settled cases in one town. He did so without passion, not caring for either party. He did so on the basis of his own wisdom and power, never looking to God for help, since he did not fear or believe in God. In an Israelite community where the judge was to be impartial and judgment ultimately belonged to God (Deut. 1:16-17), this judge was unfit for his job.

The judge met his match when a local widow pled for justice in a dispute with a neighbor. The nature of her grievance is of no concern for the story. The point is that she was a widow who never gave up. As a widow she should have received special protection and care from the justice system (Exod. 22:22; Deut. 10:18; 24:17-21; 27:19; cf. Jas. 1:27). No matter how long the judge ignored her or denied her plea, she returned to his court asking for justice. The judge finally threw up his hands in disgust and frustration. Religious grounds did not cause him to act. He had no religion. Social justice grounds did not cause him to act. He cared nothing for people. He simply had a job as a judge and he did it. He did have limits to his patience. So he finally gave in to the woman just to get rid of her.

18:6-8a. Jesus applied the story for His disciples. If an uncaring human judge acts like this, how much more does a loving heavenly Father care for His children. He will never put you off. He does care for you. You will get a quick answer. You will receive justice. But remember, this involves continuing to pray day and night. Your definition of quick may not equal God’s definition.

18:8b. The problem is not with God. He will answer when you need it. You can count on that. The problem is with us. When Christ returns, will there be anyone here who calls out in faith day and night? Will we become so lackadaisical in our faith that we allow people of persistent prayer to become extinct? Will the second coming of Jesus find us persisting in prayer that His kingdom will come? Or will it find us trapped on the housetop trying desperately to get back into the house to find the possessions that we rely on more than we do on God? Persistent prayer, the work of the person of faith, continues on, no matter what the answer. When Christ returns, the person of persistent prayer will still be praying.