The Practice of Prayer

 

They all joined together constantly in prayer. — Acts 1:14

WEEKLY SCHEDULE

Before Session One Group Meeting

  • Spend some time considering where your prayer life is currently and what your prayer experiences have been.

In Your Group

  • Watch Video Session One: Introduction: The Practice of Prayer and take notes
  • Complete Group Discussion Questions
  • Pray Together

At Home

  • Personal Prep for Session Two:
    • Day 1: Where You Are Now
    • Day 2: Going to the Word
    • Day 3: Journal It Out
    • Day 4: Going with God
    • Day 5: Act on It

Before Session Two Group Meeting

  • Answer the tracking chart questions about your experience in this week’s posture.

Have you ever felt nervous about praying out loud in front of a group of people? Believe it or not, me too. And I think those kind of nerves simply come from being human. But nerves also surface when we think prayer is more about a performance than a practice with God. Any athlete, musician, pastor, teacher, writer — anyone committed to their craft — will tell you it takes practice to do what they do so well. It takes practice until something becomes a skill; it takes practice until something becomes a habit, or a consistent rhythm. And the same goes for prayer.

Prayer is a practice with God, not a performance. And the more we practice our prayer, the more natural our conversation with God will be. That’s why I wrote the 28-Day Prayer Journey, because I knew I wasn’t the only one who needed the consistency and accountability of time in prayer with God. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to experience different practices of prayer as a way to deepen our relationship with God. Some practices will probably feel more comfortable than others, and that’s okay. But the goal is to be consistent with prayer as you develop your own rhythm and routine — your own practice of prayer.

Share

If you or any of your group members are just getting to know one another, take a few minutes to introduce yourselves. Then, to kick things off, briefly discuss one of the following statements:

  • Share one word you would use to describe your conversation with God right now.

or

  • Where are you in your conversation with God?

Invite someone to read aloud the following passage as “heart prep” for Chrystal’s teaching. Listen for fresh insights as you hear the verses being read, and then briefly discuss the questions that follow.

Mary’s Song

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has been mindful
of the humble state of His servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me —
holy is His name.
His mercy extends to those who fear Him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and His descendants forever, just as He promised our ancestors.”

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

— Luke 1:46-56

  • Why do you think Mary sings a song of thanksgiving and praise to God when her life has been completely disrupted in this moment?
  • Can you relate at all to Mary’s song or response to her situation? If so, in what ways? If not, what strikes you about Mary’s response?

Consider as you listen to Chrystal’s teaching, where do you long for freedom or consistency in your prayer life with God?

Watch

Play the video segment for session one. As you watch, use the following outline to record any thoughts or concepts that stand out to you.

Notes

Prayer as a Key

“Prayer is the key to conversation with the Creator of the Universe.”

“If prayer unlocks our intimacy with God, why don’t we use it more?”

The Relational Benefits of Prayer

  • Prayer requires confidence in God.
  • Prayer requires consistent discipline.
  • Prayer is more than a practice.
  • Prayer is to be a priority.
  • Prayer includes breathing.

Scripture Used This Session:

All Scripture is NIV unless otherwise noted.

Genesis 1:27
John 3:16
1 John 5:14
Joshua 1:9
1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV
Philippians 4:4-7

Biblical Examples of Prayer:

Abraham (Isaiah 51)

Moses (Exodus 34)

Hannah (1 Samuel)

David (Psalms)

Mary the Mother of Jesus (Luke 1)

Jesus:

  • prays at His baptism

(Luke 3:21-22)

  • prays after healing the sick (Mark 1:29-35; Luke 5:15-16)
  • before for His friends (Luke 6:12-13)
  • before the transfiguration in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-39)

The Four Basic Tenets of Prayer:

  1. Prayers of Thanksgiving and Praise (Gratitude)
  2. Prayers of Repentance
  3. Prayers of Request (Asking)
  4. Prayers of Yielding

Prayer is the way you communicate with God.

“Prayer is the way you can plug into the power, perception and purpose that can only be found in God’s presence.”

Prayer Is the Key that Unlocks:

  • connection • belonging • wisdom
  • counsel • help

Discuss

Take a few minutes with your group members to discuss what you just watched and explore these concepts in Scripture.

  1. What are some of the struggles or roadblocks we face when it comes to our prayer lives today?
  2. Which struggle is most prominent in your life right now?
  3. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17. How would you rate yourself on practicing the kinds of prayer listed in this passage? What does it mean for you to
    pray without ceasing or pray continually, and how does praying constantly strengthen your relationship with God?
  4. Is there someone in your life who genuinely models conversation and connection with God through prayer? If so, what do you admire most about this person’s relationship with God and what have you learned from their example?

Read Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel 1:1-20. What does this passage tell us about Hannah’s prayer life? How can you identify with Hannah’s story or with God’s response to Hannah?

Chrystal said, “Prayer is the key that unlocks connection, belonging, wisdom, counsel and help from God.” Which one of these actions do you need most from God right now and why? How do you want your relationship with God to be strengthened and deepened through prayer?

Practice

Today we learned about Breath Prayer (or Prayer as Breathing). Breath Prayer is simply praying as we breathe in and out. Breath Prayer reminds us that God is the oxygen for our souls. Just as we can’t live on one single breath of air, we can’t live on one single breath of God. We need to breath God in all day long. This kind of prayer reminds us that God’s presence through the Holy Spirit is a gift in our lives.

Discussion Leader: Take a moment of silence with your group. Set a timer for 1 minute. Have everyone close their eyes and place their hands and feet in a comfortable, relaxed position. Begin timer and guide the group through the prayer using the following prompts.

0:00 Breathe in slowly for 5 seconds. Think of God’s presence as you fill your lungs with air.
0:05 Breathe out slowly. Let your thoughts flow from your head to your heart as you breathe in and out.
0:15 If you’re distracted by your own thoughts, then try repeating these words in your head as you breathe in, “Lord Jesus” and then breathe out, “have mercy on me.” Or these words in your head as you breathe in “Jesus” and breathe out, “I am here.”
0:30 Breathe in slowly “Lord Jesus.” Breathe out slowly, “have mercy on me.”
0:45 Breathe in slowly “Jesus.” Breathe out slowly, “I am here.”
1:00 Now just take a moment to listen.
1:15 Open your eyes.

 

  • Practice Question: What was that experience like for you? How do you feel more connected to God through this time of prayer?

Pray

Pray as a group before you close your time together. Use this space to keep track of prayer requests and group updates.

Excerpted with permission from The 28-Day Prayer Journey Study Guide: Enjoying Deeper Conversations with God by Chrystal Evans Hurst, copyright Chrystal Evans Hurst.

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Your Turn

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the 28-Day Prayer Journey in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Chrystal Evans Hurst

Chrystal Evans Hurst co-authored the best-selling book, Kingdom Woman, with her father Dr. Tony Evans. She reaches a wide audience speaking at conferences, sharing on her blog, Chrystal's Chronicles, writing for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and by teaching and leading women in her home church. As the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of the Hurst household, she is a dedicated wife to Jessie and mother of five. Chrystal lives just outside of Dallas, Texas.

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