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Prayer: Scripture Readings

Matthew 6:9-13—A Pattern for Prayer

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’”


Consider these questions:

  • In The Prayer of the Lord, R.C. Sproul observes, “The very beginning of godliness, the very beginning of transformation in our lives and in our society, begins with our posture before the character of God.” What is the appropriate posture before God, and how does the Lord’s Prayer help us approach God that way?
  • In Whistling in the Dark, Frederick Buechner writes, “‘Thy kingdom come . . . on earth’ is what we are saying. And if that were suddenly to happen, what then? What would stand and what would fall? . . . To speak those words is to invite the tiger out of the cage, to unleash a power that makes atomic power look like a warm breeze.” What are we asking when we pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth?
  • What aspects of this prayer come naturally to you when you pray? Which are harder to practice?
  • Pray the Lord’s Prayer using the lectio divina method. What insights does this method give you?

Psalm 145—A Prayer of Praise

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. . . .


Consider these questions:

  • Of the four components of the ACTS model for prayer (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication), adoration seems to be the part of prayer that is difficult for many people in the Reformed tradition. Is that true for you? If so, why do you think that is?
  • Do you struggle with the fact that God commands us to praise him? Many Christians do. In the article “The Purpose of Praise,” David Koo writes, “In essence, God’s demand for us to praise Him is a call to join in the joy and celebration and loving adoration found within the Trinity. It is a call to join the Family. It is a call to joy!” How does this insight inform your perspective?
  • How might you incorporate more adoration and praise into your prayer life?
  • How does your congregation’s prayer life include adoration and praise of God?

Psalm 130—A Cry for Help

Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.


Consider these questions:

  • At what times in your life have you felt that you were in “the depths”? Were you able to pray during those times? Why or why not?
  • The psalmist says, “I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits.” How might you practice this type of expectant waiting when you pray?
  • The psalmist seems to experience despair and hope simultaneously. What role does hope play in our prayers—and in other parts of our faith formation?
  • What lines of this psalm might you use as a “breath prayer”? For example, breathe in as you pray “Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD” and breathe out as you pray “Lord, hear my voice.”

Mark 9:14-24—A Prayer for Faith

When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.

“What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit. . . . I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”


Consider these questions:

  • This father’s utterance, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” is an honest prayer. He’s not trying to impress Jesus; he’s asking Jesus to meet him where he is. In what areas of your faith do you experience doubt?
  • Do you feel comfortable expressing doubts to God? To people you trust?
  • How is doubt handled in your church family? Is there room for people to experience both belief and unbelief as they grow in faith?
  • How might you incorporate this father’s words into your own prayer life?