Discussion Guide for Romans 8:26-27
How Americans Pray
The Barna Group conducted a reputable study about the ways that Americans pray. It shows us some interesting things about our neighbors.
- Prayer is far and away the most common spiritual practice
- 79% of Americas have prayed in the last 3 months
- Most prayer is done in silence and alone
- The things that people pray about change by generation
- People pray more often for personal and community needs than global or national issues
Am I alone in believing that prayer is both the easiest and hardest regular part of the Christian life?
Almost every Christian I know will agree that prayer should be a critical and important part of his life. Almost every Christian will also agree that there is a sense in which his prayer life is not as great as it could be.
Many of us are kept away from praying by a sense that either we are not good enough or our prayers are not good enough to take before God.
Overcoming my weakness
One of my greatest problems in prayer is that I am not very talkative.
I often struggle to come up with words that will adequately express to God what is in my heart. Compound that with the fact that our relationship with God is not a like a human relationship in which we can have a conversation carried along by the audible words of the other person.
Romans 8:26-27 serves as a great comfort to me. Whatever my weaknesses are (and they are many):
“the Spirit Himself intercedes with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
Some people talk about times when they seek to relate more closely to one of the members of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). For example,
- A person suffering from betrayal or illness can readily talk to Jesus, who experienced the fullest measure of those things.
- A person who desires to see a heart change can really take heart in the activity of the Holy Spirit.
- The person in anguish over the condition of the world can easily imagine the way that God the Father sees the situation.
Christians are in a very unique position in that we know that our prayers are offered to a divine community. We can pray with our fellow believers, but we also know that our prayers are a conversation between us and God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The important theological truth is this: the Trinity is 100% unified in all of its purposes. In other words, I know that all of the persons of the Godhead are actively involved in hearing my prayer and carrying out God’s will.
No Bad Prayers
The effectiveness of prayer is not dependent on our own talent. Prayer is effective because of the God who is involved in hearing it.
If God graciously sent his Son to a cross to give us the right to pray, you can be assured that he will not allow our weaknesses stand in the way of allowing our prayers to accomplish His purposes. Just be honest!
- Is there any statistic from Barna that surprised you?
- Why do you think Americans pray silently and alone?
- What kinds of prayer do you wish you could do more?
- How do you think prayer changes as we get older?
- Was there a time when you wanted to pray and just couldn’t?
- Is there a time when God answered a prayer in a way that you couldn’t have imagined?
- What is your favorite prayer in the Bible?
- How can we support each other in prayer as a group?
Related Message: The Best is Yet to Come
Practice praying a Scripture in your group. You can use Ephesians 3:14-21 or John 17 or any other Scripture that you find meaningful. Practice changing the pronouns to include yourself and your community.
For further study on prayer, refer to our discussion guides and sermons from January 2018.