Teach Us to Pray

Most people pray. People from almost all cultures and all religions pray. Prayer is all over the Scriptures. But, prayer can be intimidating. Our minds get flooded with questions. Can I pray? Am I doing it right? What should I expect? Does prayer change anything? In this series we will explore these questions and many more as we, like his first disciples, ask Jesus to Teach Us to Pray. And as Jesus teaches us to pray we will grow in awe, intimacy, and strength in our relationship with God.

See below for audio from each sermon in the series, as well as a corresponding sermon study. Here are some helpful Facilitator Tips for those leading the sermon study in a community group. 

03.29.20 | Prayer as Struggle

by Pastor Gabe Kasper

Text | Matthew 26:36-46

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on.[b] See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

Sermon Study

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Teach Us to Pray: Prayer as Struggle
Pastor Gabe Kasper
March 29, 2020

Prayer: Pause for a few moments to go to the Lord in prayer. Ask that He would draw near to you in this time, and open your heart and mind to hear His Word.
Icebreaker: What’s a subject or skill you had to wrestle with to learn? Discuss!
Reading: Matthew 26:36-46

Outline: We struggle when we…
I. Come honest in request (v36-39)
     a. In his sorrow, Jesus provides an example of raw, honest prayer that we should follow.
     b. It is biblical and effective to come to God with gut-wrenchingly honest prayers.
          Q: What is Jesus’ first move when facing a difficult and scary situation?

II. Come clear in relationship (v39)
     a. We are to pray with humility knowing that He is God and we are not.
     b. At the same time, we can pray boldly because of our relationship with our Father.
          Q: What does Jesus request in his prayer? How does he respond to the answer?

III. End in relinquishment (v42)
     a. We may discover in prayer that God’s will for us is not what we want or what’s comfortable for us.
     b. We should surrender to the will of God in our prayers, as Jesus surrendered and accepted his crucifixion as the sacrifice for our salvation.
          Q: Where else does Jesus instruct us to pray “Your will be done”?

Reflection/Application Questions:

1) How is your prayer life going?
2) Do you find yourself holding the “ugly parts” back when you pray?
3) How do you remember that God is God when he answers your prayers with a “no”?
4) What does it mean to surrender?
5) What is most difficult for you to let go of? What might happen if you surrender control of it to God?

Suggestions for further study:

  • Psalm 79
    • Q: What imagery does the psalmist use to describe God’s love?
  • Luke 22:39-46
    • Q: In Luke’s depiction, how does God respond to Jesus’ prayer?
  • Hebrews 5:7-9
    • Q: What resulted from the Father’s “no” to Jesus’ prayer?

Closing Prayer: ​Lord God, we thank you for the gift of prayer. We thank you that you let us come to you in any and all circumstance, and yet, it is a struggle to use this gift sometimes. God, we pray that you would teach us to come honestly to you and not hold things back, to be real with what’s troubling us and know that there’s nothing we need to hide because you are our Father who loves us. From that place, teach us to submit to your will. Teach us to surrender what you would have us surrender. We pray that you would teach us to relinquish the things on our hearts, trust in your will, and follow after you so that we can live more fully. We thank you that Jesus submitted to your will, and that it led him to the cross for our salvation. We praise you for that gift today and always. It’s in his name we pray, Amen.

03.22.20 | Prayer as Encounter

by Pastor Gabe Kasper

Text | Ephesians 3:14-19

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Sermon Study

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Teach Us to Pray: Prayer as Encounter 
Pastor Gabe Kasper
March 22, 2020

Prayer: Pause for a few moments to go to the Lord in prayer. Ask that He would draw near to you in this time, and open your heart and mind to hear His Word.
Icebreaker: What’s a subject or skill you had to wrestle with to learn? Discuss!
Reading: Ephesians 3:14-19

Outline:
I. We encounter God in prayer as we are strengthened by His Spirit (v14-16).

a. We’re invited to not just know God’s Spirit is at work in us, but to experience it.
b. The truth of the gospel is not meant to just reside in our heads, but to be experienced in our inner being.

Q: What does being “strengthened with power” look like?

II. We encounter God in prayer as we grasp the love of Christ (v17-19a).

a. We’re invited to grab, wrestle with, pin down, and seize hold of Christ’s love for us.
b. Meditation and pondering the love of Christ through prayer allows us to encounter Him.

               Q: What does it mean to be “rooted and grounded in love?”

III. We encounter God in prayer as we are filled with His fullness (v19b).

a. In a time of isolation, we can still be filled with God’s Spirit and all the goodness He brings.
b. God longs to meet with us, so much that he sent His Son that one day we might experience his fullness in eternity one day.

Reflection/Application Questions:

1)  Have you had a spiritual encounter with God, in prayer or otherwise?
2)  Is Jesus’ love for you something you’ve ever wrestled with? What did it look like?
3)  Do you take time to meditate on and ponder God’s love for you in your prayers?
4)  Which dimension (breadth, length, depth, height) of God’s love resonates most with you?
5)  How are you encountering God in a time of social isolation?

Suggestions for further study:

  • Psalm 103:1-14
    • Q: What imagery does the psalmist use to describe God’s love?
  • John 10:22-42
    • Q: What does Jesus promise for those who hear his voice?
  • 1 John 3:1-3
    • Q: What relationship does the writer use to illustrate God’s love?

Closing Prayer: ​Lord God, we thank you that in the midst of a time in which we can’t encounter each other as fully as we’d like, we can still encounter you. We thank you that you meet us, that you sent your Spirit into our lives to strengthen us, in order that we can grasp the love you have for us in Christ. We pray that all who hear this message would encounter you. We pray that they’d seek to encounter you, the One who sent Jesus for them, who gave up everything for them, and who longs to meet with them, in prayer. Lord, teach us to encounter you in prayer. We pray this in your Holy Name. Amen.

03.15.20 | How to Pray

by Pastor Marcus Lane

Text | Matthew 6:5-13

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

Sermon Study

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Teach Us to Pray: How to Pray
Pastor Marcus Lane
March 15, 2020

Prayer: Pause for a few moments to go to the Lord in prayer. Ask that He would draw near to you in this time, and open your heart and mind to hear His Word.
Icebreaker: When was the first time you heard the Lord’s Prayer?
Reading: Matthew 6:5-13

Outline:
I. Our Posture (v5-8)

a.The common theme between both negative examples of prayer in the text is pride.
b. We have nothing to offer God, but grace invites a posture of humility for prayer.

Q: What was wrong with the way the Pharisees and Gentiles were praying?

II. Our Content (v9-13).

a. Jesus’ teaching on prayer says that the central way we address God is as a father.
b. We are to pray to God as a child makes requests of their father, appealing to Him according to the promises He has made.

               Q: What does Jesus’ teaching to pray to a “Father” reveal about  the relationship God desires with us?

III. Our Lives (v14-15)

a. Jesus invites us to extend the same forgiveness we ask for to others.
b. We learn to forgive when we encounter the immense depth of God’s grace toward us.

Q: Why does Jesus insist on us forgiving those who have wronged us?

Reflection/Application Questions:

  1. Have you ever felt you weren’t “good enough” at prayer or didn’t know how to do it “right”?

  2. Which petition of the Lord’s Prayer resonates the most with you when you pray it?

  3. What promises do you ask God to be faithful to?

  4. Do you struggle to forgive others? What makes it so difficult?

  5. Where have you encountered the depth of God’s grace toward you?

Suggestions for further study:

  • Deuteronomy 7:1-11
    • Q: How is God’s faithfulness on display in this passage?
  • Psalm 103:1-14
    • Q:What words of this passage could be used in prayer, appealing to God’s nature and promises?
  • Matthew 18:21-35
    • Q: Have you ever acted like the unforgiving servant?

Closing Prayer:  ​Gracious God, we come to you solely because of your mercy. We come to yourecognizing there’s nothing we can ever offer you to have you hear our words. So Lord, we humbly ask to have you hear our prayers; that for the sake of your son Jesus you would hear us, that we would learn from you and from your Word how to pray rightly. Lord, as we pray and call upon you as our kind and merciful Father, work in us by the power of your Spirit to show mercy, extend forgiveness, give and be generous as you have. Lord, make us into a people that reflect to the world the kind of God you are in both our prayers and in our lives. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

03.08.20 | What to Pray

by Pastor Gabe Kasper

Text | James 5:13-18

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

Sermon Study

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Teach Us to Pray: What to Pray
Pastor Gabe Kasper
March 8, 2020

Prayer: Pause for a few moments to go to the Lord in prayer. Ask that He would draw near to you in this time, and open your heart and mind to hear His Word.
Icebreaker: What’s the craziest thing you’ve asked God for?
Reading: James 5:13-18

Outline:
I. Pray about everything going on in your life (v13).I. Pray about everything going on in your life (v13).

a. We’re called to turn all things, whether good or bad, into prayer to God.a. We’re called to turn all things, whether good or bad, into prayer to God.
b. Prayer continually sets your mind on the reality that Christ is the fundamental operating principle of your life.

Q: Is your first move in challenging situations to pray? What about celebrations?

II. Pray with and for others (v14-16).

a. As Christians, we’re meant to walk in prayer together.a. As Christians, we’re meant to walk in prayer together.
b. There’s power in praying for others, whether physical ailments or their spiritual walk.

Q: Do you have people in your life you pray with?

III. Pray for the world (v17-18).III. Pray for the world (v17-18).

a. God moves powerfully in the lives of people in response to prayer.a. God moves powerfully in the lives of people in response to prayer.
b. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God is running to meet you in prayer in any and all circumstances.

Q: Are there people in your life who don’t know Jesus that you can pray for?

Reflection/Application Questions:

  1. Do you struggle to find words to pray?
  2. Is it difficult for you to remember to pray during the good times?
  3. Are you living as if Christ is the fundamental operating principle of your life?
  4. Who are you walking with spiritually? How do you support each other?
  5. Have you ever felt skeptical in your prayers for the world? Do they really work?

Suggestions for further study:

  • Colossians 3:1-4
    • Q: Do you live as though Christ is your life?
  • Hebrews 4:14-16
    • Q: What’s your reaction to hearing that Jesus can sympathize with you?
  • Ephesians 6:10-20
    • Q: Do you regularly pray for other believers?

Closing Prayer:  ​Lord God, we thank You that you are a God that runs to us. That in Jesus, we have a great high priest who knows what it’s like, who has been tempted in every way that we are and yet was without sin, that we might know you. On His account, and because of what He has done for us, we are bold to pray to you. We come to you in any and every circumstance in our lives, and we know that you hear us. God, we pray on behalf of those who are sick and hurting, those who are suffering spiritual distress and feeling guilt and shame. We pray for our world, that those who are far from you would be brought near and that your Spirit would again renew and revive this place. We lift all these up to you Lord, and ask that you’d continue to teach us to pray. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

03.01.20 | Why Pray

by Pastor Gabe Kasper

Text | 1 John 5:13-15

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

Sermon Study

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Teach Us to Pray: Why Pray?
Pastor Gabe Kasper
March 1, 2020

Prayer: Pause for a few moments to go to the Lord in prayer. Ask that He would draw near to you in this time, and open your heart and mind to hear His Word.
Icebreaker: Did you have any prayer traditions growing up? Discuss!
Reading: 1 John 5:13-15

Outline:
I. We pray because of who God is (v13)

a. Your image of God will determine the frequency, intimacy, and honesty of your prayers.
b. God’s fundamental disposition towards you is one of grace and love.

Q: When you think of God, what image comes to mind?

II. We pray because of what God promises (v14).

a. God promises to hear you when you pray.
b. When we pray, we aren’t talking to an impersonal force but a person. The way to get to know a person is by talking to them.

Q: Do you see prayer as a two-way conversation?

III. We pray because of what God does (v15).

a. Again and again throughout the scriptures, we see God answer prayers.
b. While God doesn’t always answer prayers how we think he should, he is always faithful.

Q: What prayers has God answered in your life?

Reflection/Application Questions:

  1. When/how do you usually pray?
  2. What is the most challenging thing about praying?
  3. Does God always answer prayers?
  4. Where do you listen/look for God’s responses when it seems like he is silent? Do you find him there?
  5. Think of a prayer it seems God did not answer. Looking back, can you identify a way God worked in response to the prayer that you missed before?

Suggestions for further study:

  • Genesis 18:22-33
    • Q: How did Abraham’s prayer affect God’s action in the world?
  • Mark 5:21-43
    • Q: What is Jesus’ response when Jairus prays for something seemingly impossible (raising his daughter from the dead)?
  • Acts 12:1-12
    • Q: Have you had a prayer answered at the “last second”?

Closing Prayer: “God, we thank you that you are a God who hears us and meets us as we pray. You’re not some impersonal life force, but our heavenly Father. You invite us to come to you as your sons and daughters and put our requests, gratitude, lives before you. We thank you that you’ve made that way for us by sending your son Jesus. Because of Him and His work on the cross nothing is in the way of us approaching you. We pray that we would pray what we’ve got, wherever we’re at. May we come to you, experience you, and meet you in prayer. Amen.”