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Talk

In a funny way, this clip gets us thinking about some legitimate questions about prayer: How should we address God? How long should we pray? What should we say? The point is that prayer is intriguing and no one—particularly Greg Focker—is an expert.

What is one question you have about praying and listening to God?

Read

As a newly minted freshman, I wasn’t all that excited about pursuing God anymore. I had grown up doing the typical “religious” things—going to church, Bible classes, etc.—but I never felt a deep connection with God that I cared to continue in college.

Even though I wasn’t looking for a Christian group on campus, I met a guy in the dorms who was connected to one. I really liked him and wanted to be friends, so when he asked me to visit the group, I did.

I went along on the group’s fall weekend retreat, barely hoping to reconnect with God. I still felt apathetic toward God, like he’d sort of given up on me or abandoned me—so I felt justified giving up on God too.

On Saturday night, I was feeling really down because I still wasn’t hearing anything from God. I felt powerless, knowing there was nothing I could do. I had tried and, well, that was enough for me. I was ready to declare myself an atheist.

Talk

Have you ever thought or felt like God was speaking to you? If so, how did he speak, and why do you think it was God? If not, how do you interpret the silence?

Context

Samuel was an Old Testament prophet and judge. He was born to a woman named Hannah who had been infertile until she asked God for a child. When Samuel was born, Hannah was so grateful to God for answering her prayer that she dedicated Samuel to the Lord’s service. When Samuel was very young, Hannah had Samuel fulfill this by living with and serving God under the guidance of a priest named Eli.

Read

Take turns reading verses from 1 Samuel 3:1-10.

Talk

  1. Who are the characters in this story? Explain the role each plays in prayer and hearing God’s voice.
  2. Why do you think Samuel mistook God’s voice for Eli’s three different times?
  3. Eli interpreted the activity of God in Samuel’s encounter. What do you think the role of Christian community is in helping you hear and respond to God’s voice?
  4. What does the passage indicate about God in that he called Samuel four different times?
  5. How does verse seven about God speaking to Samuel before Samuel knew him affect you?
  6. What are some key takeaways from this passage about God speaking and us hearing?

Read

But when we got into small groups after worship and prayed over the people who did decide to let God fill their lives, something happened. While we were praying for one girl, I suddenly had a vision of her walking with Jesus. He was talking to her and telling her not to worry about her future. As soon as we finished praying, I told her and the group what I’d seen. Funny thing was, she was worried about what she was going to do with her life after college. My vision spoke to the exact need she had at that exact moment.

This experience turned things around for me completely. I knew God had spoken to her through me. It was incredible, so I asked to be prayed over because I wanted to experience a similar thing in my relationship with God.

Just when I thought I was going to say, “God, you do not exist,” he gave me a sign.

5 Tips for Discerning God's Voice

Go over the "5 Tips for Discerning God's Voice" handout for this section together and discuss the following tips:

  1. Is what you heard affirmed in Scripture?
  2. Does what you heard conform to God’s character?
  3. Is what you heard confirmed by wise and spiritual people?
  4. Will what you heard produce fruit in your life?
  5. Is what you heard about one of the "three Gs": guys/gals, gold, or glory?

Daily Examen

The Daily Examen is a centuries-old practice of noticing where God shows up in your day in big ways and small. It helps you take a few minutes out from your busy life to quietly reflect on the highs and lows that day, and you can then sit and listen for God to speak to you about those things.

  1. Where have you sensed God’s presence today? Give thanks.
  2. Where have you missed or betrayed his presence today? Ask for forgiveness.
  3. What one request or question are you holding before God in this season of your life? Ask and wait.

Bible Studies

Day 1: Read Genesis 18:1-33

  1. What stands out to you about this passage?
  2. What do you notice about how Abraham asks God questions?
  3. What do you think Jesus is teaching about prayer in this passage?

Day 2: Read Daniel 9:1-27

  1. What stands out to you about this passage?
  2. How does Daniel identify with his people’s pain?
  3. What do you think Jesus is teaching about prayer in this passage?

Day 3: Read Luke 11:1-13

  1. What stands out to you about this passage?
  2. Make a list of characteristics the man in the passage displays.
  3. What do you think Jesus is teaching about prayer in this passage?

Day 4: Read 1 Kings 19:11-18

  1. Think of a friend who does not know Jesus.
  2. Ask God to speak to you with his still small voice about your friend. Ask Jesus how he is praying for your friend. Ask God how he is already at work in your friend. Ask God to give you insight into what is keeping your friend from making progress toward God.
  3. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you an image or sense of what God is saying to your friend. You can even ask the Holy Spirit, “What do you want me to pray for my friend? What do you want to see come true in their life, God?”
  4. One at a time, pray out loud what you heard or sensed after listening to God.
  5. Pray and listen for how God is at work on our whole campus.

Reminder

Pray using the Daily Examen you learned during the session:

  1. Where have you sensed God’s presence today? Give thanks.
  2. Where have you missed or betrayed his presence today? Ask for forgiveness.
  3. What one request or question are you holding before God in this season of your life? Ask and wait.

Video

How do you pray? Look at the prayer in Acts 4 with Sunder Krishnan. Learn from the prayers of the early apostles so you're not just repeating to God what he already knows, but engaging him and his power through prayer. Learn how to pray big and pray bold.

See video

Why pray? Is God listening? How can we do it? Find out more with this animation from the 24-7 Prayer movement.

See video

This clip is a preview of the sermon "The Parable of the Persistent Widow," preached out of Luke 18:1-8 by Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church. Watch the full sermon.

See video

Jesus is our perfect example of prayer. So, how did he pray? What can we learn about prayer from him? This clip is taken from the sermon "Pray Like Jesus," preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church. Watch the full sermon.

Sites

Pocket Prayer Pro is an iPhone app with sample prayers to guide your daily devotional with God, as well as the ability to enter your own prayer requests. It allows you to set reminders to pray, and even lets you set up a passcode for privacy.

Books

Through the prayers in the Bible, you look into the profoundest issues of life and death, and the deepest longings of your own heart. The 10 prayers in this book will take you near to the holy one of the universe, the personal God of each person in the world.

Being close to God means communicating with him--telling him what is on your heart in prayer and hearing what he is saying to you. Willard provides rich spiritual insight into how you can hear God's voice clearly and develop an intimate partnership with him in the work of his kingdom.

All Christians yearn to live at the center of God's will. But how to discern his will is an art that eludes many. This book provides no magic formulas, no recipes for guaranteed success--just a lot of insight, gleaned from centuries of lived Christian experience, that will guide and encourage you in the art of discerning God's will.

This bestselling 28-day study will jump-start your desire to pray. In this simple and fresh look at Biblical prayer, discover how to pray, what to pray, and what to expect when you pray.

"The richness of the Word of God ought to determine our prayer, not the poverty of our heart." Bonhoeffer leads you to the scriptures to guide and direct your prayer life. Learn how God would want you to pray by looking at the Psalms.

Learn to hear and heed the voice of Jesus in everyday life. Written with warmth and wisdom, this book speaks to the mind and heart of every Christian who longs for a closer, more intimate walk with Jesus.

This revised twentieth-anniversary edition calls both young and old to make prayer a priority, and broadens our vision for what the eternal, powerful God does when his people slow down to pray.

Audio

A compelling message from Dr. James Dobson and Ryan Dobson about why you should pray and how it affects your relationship with God. This entertaining and insightful word will help remind you that God is real and wants to communicate with you.

Articles

Praying in the midst of confusion can become an opportunity to draw near to God and deepen your relationship with him.

Even though God certainly knows what you need, you're still invited and commanded to pray. Learn more about the benefits of depending on God via prayer.

Here are some ideas from the Urbana Student Missions Conference about ways to pray for God's work and God's people around the world.