GETTING TO KNOW YOU
1. Using the options below, how would you say your prayer life is similar to or different from the way you communicate with those you’re closest to?
2. Prayer is important just like communication is in any relationship. In what circumstances is it easiest for you to pray? When is it the hardest? What are some of your challenges and frustrations when it comes to regularly praying to our God?
Looking back over your sermon notes from this week’s sermon, which particular point or passage of Scripture most challenged, confused, or caught your attention?
1. Have you ever set aside extra time to dedicate yourself to prayer concerning a specific issue or concern? If so, explain.
In light of the challenges we face and our belief that prayer works, what are some obstacles to setting aside extra periods of time to repeatedly pray over an issue?
2. Wherever Jesus went, crowds flocked to Him. His response to these crowds earned Him the reputation of not only being a miracle worker but also a friend of sinners and outcasts. What do you notice about Jesus’ response to people in Matthew 9:9-13 and Luke 7:36-39?
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.  While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.  When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”  On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” [NIV]
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume,  and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.  When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.” [NIV]
In our culture, do you think Jesus is still thought of as a friend of sinners? Why or why not?
What are one or two practical ways we, as Christians, could show His love in such a way that people are attracted to Jesus, the One who truly loves them?
Can you think of any things we should stop doing?
TAKING IT HOME
1. We all have different aptitudes and abilities when it comes to where, when and how much we pray. Yet we know ongoing communication and connection is vital to any healthy relationship, including with God. One reason we may find it difficult to pray is that we haven’t created places and habits that help us pray and connect with God on an ongoing basis. Here are a few practical suggestions on how to develop your prayer life:
- Schedule it
- Get away on occasion
- Pray aloud to help you focus
- Listen as well as talk
- Use Scripture as your guide
Which if any of these do you already tend to do? Are there other ideas or suggestions you’ve found to be helpful when it comes to prayer?
2. How can the group pray for you this week?