Prayer should be used to communicate with God…not impress our friends.
The Discussion Starter:
Prayer by Michael, Jr.
Michael, Jr. is a Christian comedian who is totally clean…and completely hilarious. He’s made the circuit in churches, as well as comedy clubs, and even on several of the late night talk shows, too. His fans can always count on getting a great laugh and an honest perspective on what it means to live a Christian life.
In this clip, Michael, Jr. talks about an experience he had in church in which he was asked to “pray with his neighbor.” The entire concept was new to him…and he describes it in brutal honesty in this clip. Take a look at the mistake he confessed to.
The video can be found online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkqDpMUu6Yg&list=PLE5C5B22C322C4E4A
Let’s face it; most of us would like to be better prayers…especially when we’re around people who are more spiritually mature than us. Those people always seem to know the right thing to say, in the right way, with the right Christian words…and we just kinda sound like regular joes when we pray. The problem arises when we try to be something we’re not during prayer. When we try to use other people’s words or try to imitate them instead of having an authentic conversation with God, we get ourselves into trouble. That’s because the whole point of prayer is to talk with God about our life and His will…not try to impress our friends. Let’s talk about that for a few moments in our small groups so we can learn this lesson once and for all.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and whether we like to pray out loud in front of others, or not.
- ASK A FEW: What did you think of Michael, Jr.’s prayer?
- ASK A FEW: Have you ever seen anybody try to “outpray” someone else?
- ASK A FEW: Why do some people feel the need to sound overly spiritual when they pray?
- ASK A FEW: Do you think you are a “good pray-er”? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Have you ever been tempted to try and dress up your prayers or sound more spiritual than you are? If so, why?
- ASK A FEW: Impressing others isn’t the real purpose of prayer. What is the real purpose of prayer?
Read the following passage:
ASK A FEW: What are some of the warnings Jesus gives us about prayer in this passage?
ASK A FEW: Why does Jesus give us so many directions about how to pray? Why is it so important?
ASK A FEW: What do you think God feels like when we turn prayer into a competition with someone else, when we put more focus on what others think of our prayers than what God thinks of our prayers?
ASK A FEW: What are some words that describe your prayer life right now?
ASK A FEW: If you could change one thing about your prayer life, what would it be? Why?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: How will you guard against letting prayer become something showy?
"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. 6 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. 7 "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. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 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.
During our time together, we watched a hilarious clip from comedian Michael, Jr. The guy was funny! But even as I watched it, I thought about times I’d tried to impress others with my prayer life. I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I’ve tried to do the very thing that Michael was talking about: I’ve tried to “outpray” other people.
I don’t start off that way. It’s not my intention, but as I pray with other people, I get envious of the way they pray, the words they use, the life they seem to have with God. So, instead of trying to work on my relationship with God, I just start copying them.
In that moment, I’ve made prayer about somebody else instead of God. The whole purpose of prayer is to be heard by GOD…not others! That’s the one lesson we all need to learn right now. We need to be praying with our hearts and minds set on God…not the people sitting beside us.
We don’t need to try and impress others when we pray. We don’t need to try and impress God when we pray. We need to try and be authentic and genuine when we pray. We need to focus on telling God the truth about ourselves when we pray…no matter what that sounds like.
I know this is tough for some of us. Heck, it’s tough for me at times! But I want us to actually practice prayer before we part ways. So, I’m going to give us all a few moments to get in groups of three or four and pray for the following:
In YOUR OWN words and from YOUR OWN heart, lift up these four requests to God. We’ll take about 10 minutes to do this so go ahead and get into your groups now.
2. Your family
3. Your school
4. Our youth ministry
(When students’ prayer time has come to an end, give them the option of hanging around and talking with an adult leader if they need to and then close in prayer.)
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith