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Why Pray?
September 16, 2003

Opening Discussion

I'd to take a little poll - just for information, not to make anyone feel guilty. Raise your hand if you have a personal prayer time seven days a week. 5-6 times? A few times a week? Once a week? Rarely or never?

Would anyone like to share why they answered the way they did?

Scripture: Jeremiah 29:4-14

Background: Most of the population of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, has been carried into exile by the Babylonians, many years after the northern kingdom was carried away to Assyria. Jeremiah writes this from Jerusalem to the exiles in Babylon.

What did it mean for the Israelites to be in exile, personally, politically, spiritually? Do we ever feel that way?

Taking a look at verse 4:

  • Who is the person speaking in this passage?
  • What does it say in verse 4 about who caused the Israelites' situation? Why do you think it's worded this way?

Looking at verses 5-7:

  • What does God tell the Israelites to do while in exile?
  • Why does He give them these instructions?
  • What do these instructions mean for us? (Especially verse 7)

Looking at verses 8-9:

  • What is the warning in verses 8-9?
  • What do you think is the main reason God is concerned about the exiles listening to these prophets?

Read aloud verse 11 (one of my favorite in the Bible):

  • How would verse 11 have made the exiles feel?
  • Do you feel that this is a promise to you as well? How does it make you feel?

Read aloud verses 12-13:

  • What one word or phrase might sum up what God describes in these two verses? (relationship)
  • Was it necessary for the Israelites to be exiled for 70 years in order to accomplish what is described here?
  • Does the relationship described here apply to us as well? How might the promise in verse 11 be related to these verses that follow?
  • In what ways does this passage answer the question, "Why Pray?"

Read aloud verse 14:

  • Can you think of any parables in the Gospels that are similar to the "gathering" described in verse 14? (Prodigal Son; Lost Sheep; Good Shepherd)

Read Matthew 7:7-11.

What does Jesus have to say in response to the question, "Why Pray?"

Are there any other questions about why we should spend time individually praying to God? How can we encourage each other to have a personal prayer time?

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Jenn Raley Miller