Prayer

This is the last study in the series on spiritual disciplines. In week 1 I included the question “As we journey through the next 8 weeks looking at spiritual disciplines, what would you like to receive from God?”

  • Can you remember what you wanted to receive from God during this series? Have you received it?
  • What have you learnt from this series?
  • Have you made any changes in your life as a result of this series?

Prayer

  • When do you find it easy to pray?
  • When do you find it difficult?
  • Has your motivation for praying changed over time? In what way? Why?

Mark spoke about the polarities of prayer – and how we see the world can affect the way we pray. At one end we can see the world as fixed and determined, or at another end open and undetermined.

  • How true (or false) are these two views?
  • How will the way you pray be affected if you view the world as purely fixed and determined?
  • How will the way you pray be affected if you view the world as purely open and undetermined?

The spiritual discipline of praying scripture

Praying Scripture allows God to direct the content of prayer. It opens the heart to praying particular prayers, psalms, teachings and hopes found in the bible. This could mean adopting the prayers of David, Daniel, Paul, Mary etc or praying for others by replacing ‘you’ in biblical prayers and psalms with the name of someone else.

  • Do you let God set the agenda in your praying? Explain.
  • What prayers in the bible have helped you in the past?

Try this…

Pray for someone else using psalm 139. Ask God for someone he would like you to pray for. Then read and pray the psalm slowly, replacing the words ‘I’ and ‘my’ with the name of the person you are praying for. 

The spiritual discipline of breath prayer

Breath prayer is a form of contemplative prayer linked to the rhythms of breathing: (1) breathe in, calling on a biblical name or image of God, and (2) breathe out a simple God-given desire.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18

  • How can we pray continually?
  • How does the thought of repetitive prayer strike you?
  • Have you ever practiced this spiritual discipline? What was that like for you?
  • How might a breath prayer be shorthand for a longer prayer of your heart?

Try this…

Form a breath prayer you can say throughout the day, perhaps as the first thing you say each morning and the last at night – or just when you think of it.

Breath in – call to God, using one of the many names that can be used to worship him (see page 309 of the spiritual disciplines handbook for a great list of names).

Breath out – express the desire of your heart – for yourself or for someone else. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into a long prayer dialogue, let the breath prayer carry your desire.

Repeat.