Small Group Curriculum

Pray

04.19.20 | Sermon Series: When All Is Said

 

PREPARATION

STUDY | Spend the week studying John 16:16-24. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.

DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.

PRAY | To be like Jesus, I must first seek to serve, not to be served. 

LANDING POINT | Prayer unleashes the power of God to change me and events. 

Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion

  1. Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
  2. No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
  3. No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
  4. Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group. 

INTRODUCTION

As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.

A BOLD PROMISE

The final powerful word in this series is pray. Jesus taught His disciples to pray and gave them a bold promise about prayer. This week your group will discuss what it means to pray “in Jesus’ name.”

Some people think of or treat prayer like magic formula. But Jesus shows us that prayer is something else— something more. Prayer connects us to a Person. Prayer allows us to have a real, living relationship with God the Father through Jesus. Prayer is the way to truly understand who we are, who God is, and how we relate to each other. Prayer changes us because, through prayer, God reorders our loves. There is nothing more wonderful and life-altering as prayer.

Q: It is said that you can tell a lot about someone’s faith by the way they pray. How so?

Q: Share some ways prayer has changed you.


LEARN

Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.

sorrow now

The time is drawing near for Jesus to depart, so He tells His disciples, “In a little while I’ll be gone because I’m going to the Father. But in a little while longer you’ll see me again.” The disciples are confused. They believe Jesus is the saving Messiah figure promised by God in the Old Testament, but they “have no category to allow them to make sense of a Messiah who would die and rise from the dead.” Then Jesus tells them plainly, “You will weep and mourn.” Jesus is clearly referring to what will be their reaction over His impending death.

Read: John 16:16–24. Put yourself in the disciples’ place. What emotions would you be feeling?

Q: Jesus doesn’t avoid hard things when speaking to His disciples. Why is it important to address the hard things of life?

joy to come

But Jesus tells His disciples their sorrow will give way to joy. “There will be sorrow but look at the big picture. God will bring joy out of the sorrow. A woman is grieved with pain when she delivers a child but forgets all about it when she holds the child in her arms. In the same way, your sorrow now will turn into joy later.” Then Jesus speaks a word of hope to His disciples. “I will see you again, and when I do, you will rejoice.”

Jesus then points to a new way His disciples will relate to God. “In time you’ll understand why everything had to happen the way it did. You won’t need to ask, ‘Why?’ when that time comes. But something else will change. Whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will do for you. Ask the Father for something in my name, and the Father will answer your prayers. You will rejoice to see Him at work in your life.”

Q: Recall a time when God turned your sorrow into joy.

Q: How does prayer bring you joy?

 


LIVE

Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.

PRAYING IN JESUS’ NAME

Jesus instructs His disciples to pray in His name. The words themselves aren’t magical. You can’t ask God for something, tack on “in Jesus’ name, Amen” at the end of your prayer and get whatever you want. To pray in Jesus’ name “means praying in a way consistent with His character and His will; it also means coming to God in the authority of Jesus.”

Let’s look at three ways of understanding what it means to pray in Jesus’ name:

• It means you pray with His access. The finished work of Jesus gives you access to the Father. You come to Him in prayer by Jesus’ merits—not your own.

• It means you are aligned with His will and mission. You pray to get on God’s agenda, not to get God on your agenda. You surrender your plans to His purposes. You let God be God and trust that all His purposes are for your good and His glory. God will grant any request that aligns with His mission in the world.

• It means you pray in the power of His name. Jesus has all authority as a result of His death and resurrection. He now sits at the right hand of the Father and rules over this world. To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray in power. Nothing can stop Jesus—no evil, disaster, tragedy, disease—from bringing His purposes to pass.

Q: Describe someone you know who prays with power. What characterizes their prayers?

Q: What’s one change you can make in your prayer life to get on God’s agenda?

what to expect

Jesus gives us confidence to pray with the expectation that God will move. When you pray in Jesus’ name, you can expect:

• To receive what you ask for. That’s His promise. We should pray with the expectation that God will act on our behalf.

God to be glorified. The ultimate goal of history is the glory of God. Every prayer should be directed toward this goal.

• Joy. When you see God move and act through your prayers, it fills your heart with praise and joy in Him.

Q: How would you pray differently if you expected God to act in response?

Q: What does it look like to live and pray with the goal of God’s glory?

 

 


LEAD

Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.

GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE

Corrie ten Boom once wrote,

The wonderful thing about praying is that you leave a world of not being able to do something, and enter God’s realm where everything is possible. He specializes in the impossible. Nothing is too great for His almighty power. Nothing is too small for His love.

Great leaders and times of spiritual renewal throughout church history have one, primary thing in common: the priority of prayer. The value and power of prayer simply cannot be overstated. Men and women of faith understand that real intimacy with God is developed over time through prayer. Sometimes prayer fills them with awe and wonder by how good and loving God is. Other times prayer is hard and a struggle. But there is nothing more rewarding and life-altering. Why? Because prayer unleashes the power of God to change us and the world around us. God is still in the business of doing impossible things. If you want to see change in your life and in your community the first and greatest thing you can do is pray. 

Q: Nothing is impossible for God. What causes us to doubt this statement?

Q: What are some practical things your group can do to make prayer a priority?


PRAY

Pray using the ACTS method:

  • Adoration. Honor God for who He is. Praise Him that you have access to Him through the finished work of Jesus.

  • Confession. Be honest with God about your failures and shortcomings. Bring your sin before Him, believing that you have forgiveness for your sin through the cross of Christ.

  • Thanksgiving. Let God know what you’re grateful for right now.

  • Supplication. Pray for personal needs and the needs of others.


FOLLOW UP

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

  • Read Ephesians 3:14–21 and consider how prayer accomplishes what Paul desires these believers to experience in their relationship with God.

  • Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.


COMMENTARY

In a Little While “The words ‘in a little while’ were bewildering to the disciples (and also possibly to the initial readers of John’s Gospel). Also, the prediction, ‘you will see Me,’ was not immediately understood. Did Jesus refer (a) to the coming of the Holy Spirit or (b) to His Second Advent or (c) to His brief, 40-day ministry between His resurrection and His Ascension? The last interpretation fits this passage best.”

A Mother’s Pain and Joy “Jesus did not say that the mother’s sorrow (pain) was replaced by joy, but that the sorrow was transformed into joy. The same baby that caused the pain also caused the joy! And so it is in the Christian life: God takes seemingly impossible situations, adds the miracle of His grace, and transforms trial into triumph and sorrow into joy. The Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing (Deut. 23:5; see Neh. 13:2).” The way to spiritual maturity is seeing every circumstance as an opportunity for God to turn sorrow into joy.

What Makes Prayer Effective “The unqualified completeness of some promises regarding prayer (e.g., Matt. 18:19; John 16:23; Jas. 1:5; 1 John 5:14–15) appears to run counter to the experience of ‘unanswered prayer,’ that which does not lead to reception of what has been prayed for (cf. Luke 22:42a; 2 Cor. 12:7–9). It is prayer made in submission to God’s will (Luke 22:42; Rom. 8:26–27; 1 John 5:14) that is efficacious; it is within this framework of acceptance of God’s will as the primary goal of prayer and life that the promises are to be read. To pray ‘in my [Jesus’] name’ (Matt. 18:20; John 14:13–14; 15:16; 16:23–24, 26) is, in intention, to accept the same condition. On the same basis, faith (Matt. 21:22; Heb. 11:6) and righteousness (John 9:31; Jas. 4:3; 5:16; 1 John 3:22) are cited as conditions that precede prayer.”


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ENDNOTES:

1. Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (New York: Dutton, Penguin Group USA, 2014), 18.
2. D. A. Carson, “The Gospels and Acts,” in NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 2187.
3. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2053.
4. Corrie ten Boom, I Stand at the Door and Knock: Meditations by the Author of the Hiding Place (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), Kindle edition.
5. Edwin A. Blum, “John,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 329.
6. Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 364.
7. Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 846.