Most of us don’t really enjoy prayer. We feel bad or guilty about how little we pray. And when we finally make time to pray, we either don’t know what to say or are too distracted to focus. And yet, right now, all over the world, people are praying — to the gods or to Allah or to Yahweh, through meditation or chanting, out loud or silently, corporately or alone, with an unshakeable belief that Someone is listening or as a last second hail Mary to the universe. Prayer is something of a global language that is ancient and modern.
Jesus’ disciples noticed how close he was to the Father, so they asked him to teach them how to pray. And what did Jesus do? Rather than giving them a sermon on prayer or a theology about God, he prayed. Then and there, Jesus prayed with them. And as he did, the disciples learned that Jesus’ praying started with the assumption that God loved him. Prayer, we discover, is about bringing to God what is in us, not what we think should be in us.
The invitation this week is to commit to praying as you can, rather than as you think you should.
- How would you define prayer? And do you think prayer is important? Why or why not?
- What has your experience with prayer been like?
- What could God be inviting you to in the area of prayer through this next season?
Practice for Tonight
At its core, ‘praying as you can’ simply entails starting right where you are – in whatever season, with however much faith, for however long, and however you choose. Instead of stretching yourself, start small and attainable. If you don’t pray regularly, then probably don’t start by committing to pray for an hour every day. Maybe commit to begin each day in prayer. Or perhaps commit to praying for someone in particular. Or commit to praying with your spouse or roommate each night. There is no ‘right’ or ‘better’ way to pray.
As you consider what you feel God inviting you into for this series, we want you to keep in mind a few traits that can make a goal easier to meet. An attainable goal is:
- Achievable — Don’t go too far beyond what you’re currently doing.
- Sustainable — Remember that this series will be 2 months long.
- Simple — The simpler and more tangible, the better.
- Spirit-inspired — We can do a lot on our own willpower, but the Spirit is our most empowering source.
By now, you at least have begun to formulate a few ideas of what it might look like for you to pray as you can in this season. Work through the following prompts together to help each person decide what they want to commit to:
- We already listed some ideas at the beginning of this section (feel free to go back and reread them), but work together to come up with some other goals someone could set when it comes to praying as you can.
- When it comes to creating an attainable goal, which of the 4 traits above do you tend to find yourself struggling with the most?
- Finally, whether or not you’re actually ready to commit to it, what could it look like for you to pray as you can?
Before moving onto the next section, go around and have everyone in your Community say what invitation to prayer they want to try committing to in this season. If someone’s not sure, that’s ok — they’re welcome to offer an idea or a potential goal.
Practice for the Week Ahead
The Practice for the week ahead is to begin to pray as you can. Take some time to develop a rhythm for whatever it is you committed to. If you wanted to pray for a particular person in your life each day, maybe write their name on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror. If you want to start your day with prayer, perhaps you put your Bible on top of your phone when you go to bed as a reminder. If you want to pray with your roommate or family, have a conversation with them to see if it’s something they are interested in and then make a plan. If you want to do midday prayer, block it out in your calendar each day.
Whatever it looks like, take a practical step towards your goal this week.
Close in Prayer
Before you end your time together, pray, asking the Spirit of God to fill and empower you to pray as you can. Take some time to pray for other prayer requests as they come up.