[Thought questions for Discipleship and Prayer January 15, 2014]
INTRODUCTION. What would you do if by some gigantic supernatural power you were denied the gift of prayer? Of course that can’t happen, but doesn’t the very thought of existing without prayer send a chill down your back? In this week’s lesson we consider the value of prayer in our role as God’s witnesses to others on earth.
1. The prayer of compassion. Is there even one example in this account of Daniel’s sinning against God? Then why does Daniel consider himself one of the fallen ones? Why doesn’t he present himself to Jehovah as one with a pure heart, living without sin in the midst of sinners? What is Daniel’s major concern as he pours out his heart to God? Can you put yourself in Daniel’s place?
2. Time for prayer. Do you have enough time for prayer? What are the events in your life that draw you to prayer? Does it seem out of place to you to enjoy a good meal without taking time to let God know you appreciate His blessings? What about when you first wake up in the morning? Or when you’re starting the engine of your car to begin your day? Or when you’re immersed in prayer at the end of the day? How is prayer like an artery pumping blood from your heart to sustain your body?
3. Timeless teaching. Can prayer connect finite souls with the infinite Creator? How does that work? Or is it just your imagination? What is the greatest danger, as you see it, in praying a self-centered prayer? How do you feel when a prayer you have prayed earnestly is not answered as you expected it to be? Have you ever been upset with God in such a situation? Or have you learned to accept what happens and keep praying for God’s guidance?
4. Timeless compassion. Can you describe all the characteristics of a perfect God? It not, why not? Even if you can describe only a few of the attributes of God, are you able to absorb them as your own? Why not? What are some ways you can I can be involved in other people’s lives so that we can share compassion with them and lead them to Jesus? What should be our primary goal concerning those who are not following Jesus or walking with Him? Should we scold or encourage them? Why?
5. Timeless compassion replicated. Did Christ’s disciples catch the joy and power of prayer? How did they leave a record of their compassion for us to study and follow? Think of Stephen. What feelings filled his heart even as he was being murdered? Should we also pray prayers of intercession for people who are rude? critical? full of hate? What about those who believe they are so “holy” that they elevate themselves above everybody else? Are some people beyond prayer? Beyond reach? Why or why not?
6. Prayer changes things. Can prayer change those prayed for without first changing those who pray for them? Do you find comfort, joy, strength, and wisdom in your prayers? How precious is the gift of prayer to each of God’s children?