Each week at Pennington Park Church, we provide a Sermon Discussion Guide for Small Groups to use in their time together. Below are some additional questions to study in advance to help you dive deeper in Colossians 1:9-14. Since this week will focus on prayer, we’ve also provided a five day prayer guide.
Paul’s prayers—like his letters in general—so overflow with richness that you feel like you’re working to catch every drop as it pours out. There’s always more to be seen and acted on than what you find in the moment. This makes studying the Bible exciting, knowing there’s always more to be found later when we return. We never run out of “fresh grass” to feed on. Continue reading Learning to Pray from Paul
(One of the ways we bring our hurts, confusion, and frustration to God is through prayers of lament. We lament the brokenness of our world to God because we trust him, and we know he alone can comfort us in our pain and bring justice where it’s needed. For a helpful resource on how lament can be a bridge for racial reconciliation, see Mark Vroegop’s upcoming book Weep With Me.)
“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. 2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.” Psalm 77:1-2
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” (Ps. 46:1-3)
(This devotion is day eight of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
In A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Charlie and Snoopy sit down to eat with their friends at a thanksgiving meal. As they gather around the table—not yet aware the feast will be popcorn, pretzels, buttered toast, and jellybeans—and prepare to chow down, Peppermint Patty suggests they say grace first. Linus offers a prayer of thanksgiving representative of what the first pilgrims might have prayed. Now they eat.
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” Martyn Lloyd Jones
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)
Growing in Christ includes putting off sinful behaviors and putting on Christ-like ones, but it begins with battling at the levels of the heart (desires) and mind (thinking). The two are inseparable (Matt. 15:18-19). The heart leads our head down certain ways of thinking, and our wrong thinking reinforces wrong desires.
“Prayer is not helpful. Prayer is not supplemental. Prayer is essential.” Ray Ortlund
Luke 18:1-8—Prayer: The Voice of Desperation
The Bible says a lot about prayer. You don’t have to know all these things to start praying, but they can help us better pray in line with God’s will and desire. Below are condensed, summary statements on prayer in the Bible. This list is a taken from a Group Study Guide on Spiritual Disciplines. This might help us know ways to pray, what to pray about, how to approach God, or why some things might not be answered. Hopefully the list frees us up as we see how different praying can look and how God is at work in and through our praying.
“Look, prayer is spilling your guts. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to be tidy. It doesn’t have to be particularly eloquent or even particularly intelligent. But the Bible is how God speaks to us and prayer is how we speak to God. These two rhythms form the dynamic of our friendship with the God of the universe. You can’t be good friends with someone you don’t listen to, and you can’t be good friends with someone you don’t talk to. So we go about our personal devotions by studying the Bible to hear what God would say to us and then praying to God that he would forgive us for our hard-heartedness against his Word and empower us to understand it better and make it resonate more deeply in our hearts. Spilling our guts in prayer is how we process God’s words to us. Prayer is how we interact with our friend Jesus.” Jared Wilson
The quotable Keller doesn’t disappoint in his book on prayer. One section I’ve found especially helpful defines and explains prayer as conversations in response to our knowledge of God. An implication is that one way to galvanize our prayer life is to grow our theology. Continue reading Good Theology Makes for Good Prayers