Wouldn’t it have been nice to have been one of the 12 disciples of Jesus? They learned first hand from Jesus Himself. However, a study of the gospel accounts reveals that many of His teachings left them scratching their heads, wondering about what they had just heard. In the quiet moments, they could have asked for extra help from Jesus. Yet, there seems to be only one subject that invoked such a request:
Teach us how to pray.
There must be some complex formula for a successful prayer life. After all, books have been written, seminars have been taught, and pneumonic devices have been created to help us build a theology of prayer. “If we can get it right”, we say to ourselves, “then all of the promises Jesus made will begin to bear fruit.” Yet, Jesus took a vastly different approach to the subject of prayer. Max Lucado explores this approach in the new video study Before Amen, The Power of a Simple Prayer. We hope you are blessed by this week’s exclusive excerpt from session 1 of this study, and don’t forget to sign up for our author chat with Max on October 7. ~ Fred Bittner, FaithGateway Bible Studies
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Watch: Before Amen Video Bible Study, Session 1
It is everywhere, seeking to swallow us up. It shouts so loud we can barely hear ourselves think. In many cases, it makes no sense. But the countless options, endless flavors, and infinite opportunities slam against our lives like a tsunami.
If you are more than fifty years old, you probably remember a time when there were only three TV channels. There was a time at night when a voice came on the television to say, “This concludes today’s programming.” After that announcement, the TV went blank! There was nothing to watch.
If you are under thirty, you can’t imagine a world without hundreds of channels available twenty-four hours a day providing cooking shows, shopping networks, sports, movies, situation comedies, children’s programming, “reality” shows, religious shows, news, and programs about virtually anything you can imagine. You can sit down to relax and watch a half hour of TV and spend the entire time wading through the sea of options, never settling on something entertaining or relaxing.
Suppose you wanted to learn about fly-fishing. Years ago, you would find someone who loved the sport and have a conversation with him or her. You might check out a book about fly-fishing from the local library. If you were really motivated, you could go out and watch an actual person artistically dance a fly across the waters of a stream. But today, if you want to get an introduction to fly-fishing, all you have to do is a Google search. Within a fraction of a second, you will have at your disposal more than ninety million online articles, videos, sales promotions, pictures, and perspectives on this one topic.
Into our complex world, Jesus calls us to prayer. His invitation is gentle and quite simple. Be honest. Be yourself. There are not a lot of rules. You don’t need ninety million articles and videos to learn to pray. Just talk with your heavenly Father and be confident that He hears you, He loves you, and He is good.
Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and His child.
What are some of the things we do that make prayer more complex than it needs to be? Who taught you to pray? What did he or she teach you?
Video Teaching Notes
As you watch the video teaching segment for Session 1 featuring Max Lucado, use the following outline to record anything that stands out to you.
- A member of the PGA (Prayer Giants Association) or the PWA (Prayer Wimps Association)?
- Why we pray
- The disciples’ sign-up sheet for Prayer 101 with Jesus
- A simple, easy-to-remember, pocket-sized prayer: Father, You are good. I need help. They need help. Thank You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
- Prayer expresses trust and also builds trust
- Start each day in prayer
- Before you face the world, face your Father
Bible Study Questions
1. Talk about your personal experience with prayer. Be honest as to whether you struggle or excel. Just share your journey.
2. Tell about a person in your life who models passionate and natural prayer. What drives that person to pray? What have you learned by observing his or her intimate communication with God?
3. Max says, “We all have our doubts about prayer.” Describe a time when you struggled with prayer. What questions did you ask? How honest were you with God? How has God taken you a few steps forward as a person of prayer through your doubting process?
Read: Matthew 6:9-13
4. What are some of the key topics Jesus teaches His followers to focus on in this prayer? Why are these topics simple yet very important?
Max offers a little prayer – a springboard – to launch us into conversation with God on some of the epic and massive yet simple topics of life. Here is the prayer:
Father, You are good.
I need help.
They need help.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let the pocket-sized prayer punctuate your day.
5. Max says that “Oh, Daddy” is a good way to begin a prayer. What are some of the various ways we can address God? What does each attribute, quality, or name mean as we speak to God in prayer?
6. If we truly approached God as a dear, loved, tender Daddy, what kind of interaction would mark our conversation with Him?
Read: Matthew 6:5-8
7. How have you seen prayer become a production or an opportunity for spiritual showing off? How have you seen this kind of attitude and practice find its way into your own conversations with God, either in private or in public?
God is low on fancy, high on accessibility.
8. Why can you trust God when it comes to your life and prayers? What has God done in your life to show you that He is trustworthy? What is one action you can take that will show God and the people around you that you know He is good and trustworthy?
9. In the video presentation, Max gives a snapshot of how one person might start the day in prayer. Of course, it will look different for each person. What might a day of prayer look like in your life if you took the lesson of today’s study seriously? In particular, what specific and practical thing could you do during one of these times of the day to show God that you trust Him and know He is good?
- When you first wake up, before you get out of bed…
- As you encounter family members or roommates where you live…
- As you work, go to school, or engage in your vocation…
- When you face a point of tension or conflict…
- When something good and joy-filled happens…
If God were only mighty, we would salute Him. But since He is merciful and mighty, we can approach Him.
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Are you eager to have a more intimate relationship with your Heavenly Father through prayer? Come share your answers to the Bible study questions with us. We would love to hear from you! Also, don’t forget to register for our author chat with Max Lucado on October 7 and ask him your questions about prayer.