At some point in your gathering spend a moment taking communion together, whether as a full meal together or some version of the bread and the cup. If you don’t have a plan already, you can have someone read the following passage we’ve provided below and spend a moment in silence before continuing:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
Yours is the Kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen
Many of us feel comfortable singing out to God in praise or asking God to intervene in other people’s lives, but we can get hung up on asking him to do something in our lives. For some, this is connected to an altruistic false humility, but for others it’s rooted in a fear of what might happen if I ask and God doesn’t do it. There are all kinds of psychology and personality structures involved in why we don’t ask. And yet, Jesus insists on it.
There seems to be a correlation between the flowery and formal language of our prayers and our asking God for immaterial, ethereal things. But when the language we use in our prayers stays grounded, our prayers tend to stay grounded too. The example of what to ask for that Jesus uses when he teaches his disciples to pray is bread — which means that God intimately acquaints and involves himself with the normal and most basic details of our life. There is nothing too ordinary in our life to ask God about — parking spaces, our next meal, a job promotion, a good grade, or relationship help. Jesus unmistakably rips prayer out of the sacred, stained-glass, ornate walls of the Temple and places it in the commonness of everyday life, which is likely another reason Jesus also said that we have to become like children if we are going to receive the Kingdom.
If you pray for only big things, exclusively limiting your conversation with God to the objectively noble requests, you live a cramped spiritual life, with little room for the actual God we meet in Jesus. The kind of prayer Jesus had in mind roots us in gratitude instead of control, and moves us deeper into an empowering relationship with God. This week, we want to practice stepping deeper into this empowering relationship with God by praying in a way that wages war on control and plants seeds of gratitude in our soul.
- Do you find it easier to ask God for big things or small things? Why do you think that is?
- What do you think might happen if you begin to ask for the things that feel harder? What risk is involved?
- Have you experienced the growth in gratitude and shrinking of the need for control that comes as you pray? Describe that.
Practice for Tonight
As has already been mentioned, praying for our daily bread the way Jesus taught us to can feel odd for some. With the understanding that it likely comes more naturally to some people, we want to practice praying some daily bread prayers together. This will be done in a few simple movements:
- If you’re able, break into smaller groups of 3 or 4 people.
- Once you’re in these smaller groups, have someone open your prayer time by welcoming the Spirit and asking him to begin to quiet your minds and to tune you into the needs in your life right now.
- Then, one by one, begin to pray and ask God for the needs that arise. It doesn’t need to be flowery or formal or long, but could sound as simple as, “God, would you help me on my test this Friday.” or “Jesus, help me figure out when to call and check in on my brother this week.” or “My week feels really full and I know that I’ll need a moment to rest sometime. Can you give me time to do that?” or “God, I don’t know how I’m going to pay rent this month. Could you please make a way?”
- End your time together by praying out in gratitude to God, believing as best you can that he heard each prayer and longs to respond to you.
Practice for the Week Ahead
This week, challenge yourself to ask for God’s help or intervention in the small areas of life.
Pray when your setting changes — One option would be to ask God each time your setting changes. For example, if you work at an office, when you wake up you could ask God to help guide your day, then you could ask God while you’re eating breakfast to give you the energy you need for everything going on, then you could pray for a safe journey or parking spot in the car, then you could pray for your meetings at work. Or, if you’re a stay at home parent, you could begin your day the same, but each time you and your child move on to a different activity, you could ask God to bless your communication with each other, your attitudes, that a certain child would be at the park, that nap time would go well, and that you’ll have a really good moment of connection with your child. You can try to pray at each of these changes, or you could pick one that you want to focus on for the week, in which you take a moment to ask God for everything on your mind (e.g. your commute, waking up, lunch time, etc.)
Pray when your feelings change — Another option, for those more in tune with their emotions, is to pray in line with your emotional changes. If you find yourself becoming anxious about something (e.g. a doctor’s appointment, grocery shopping, company coming over, etc.), pause and ask God what you need in that moment. If you find yourself wanting or hoping for something, translate that into prayer. If you find yourself joyful, pause to thank God for providing for your needs in that moment.
Pray out of gratitude — One way to learn to ask God for what you need is to thank him for the ways he’s already met your needs. Whether at meal times or as a way of reflecting on your day each evening, thank God for the ways in which he has met your needs. Then take a moment to think to the next day or part of your day and let these things guide you in asking him for what you might need next.
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.