Here is our weekly resource for prayer groups based on the readings from this week’s worship:

Prayer Group Guide

Week of September 12, 2021

Opening

L:   Let’s begin:  (As Luther instructed, members may wish to make the sign of the cross.)  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
G:   Amen
L:   Let us pray:  (You may use the following prayer or make up one of your own.)  The eyes of all wait upon you, O LORD, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.  Feed us now as we gather and pray with the true Bread of Heaven that does not perish, Jesus Christ Our Lord.
G:   Amen

SHARE:

L:   Who would like to start us off sharing highs and lows?

Group members should take turns doing this.  When all members have shared the good and the bad going on in their lives, the leader moves on.

READ:

L:   Here is our Bible reading for the week:  Corinthians 1:18-25

 

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

L:   Here are some questions to get your discussion started:
Everyone should contribute an idea during talk time at least once a week.  If members are shy, the leader may need to remind people of this.

General Questions:

  • Does anything jump out at you from those Bible verses?
  • Does this verse comfort you or challenge you right now?
  • Do we see any application of this verse to the highs or lows we just shared?
  • Do any of us see how this verse might help someone else in the group right now?

Focused Questions:

  • The earliest art we have about Christians is a scroll from the Imperial slave quarters depicting Jesus as a donkey (see above), and Christians as ridiculous because they worship Him. Even slaves felt they were the superiors of Christians and entitled to make fun of them.
    The cross is still “folly to those who are perishing.”  Have you ever experienced shame because of your beliefs?  Ever been made fun of or kept quiet about your convictions for fear of being looked down on as stupid or ignorant?
  • Paul refers to the cross as God’s word (“the word of the cross”) to the world, bringing to mind Jesus’ words, “Now is the judgment of this world.” How does God’s word at the cross (or the news of the cross) judge the world?  What does it reveal about the world?
  • How is the cross “the power of God” to those “who are being saved?” Is it significant that St. Paul refers to salvation as an ongoing process (“being saved”)?  If salvation is an ongoing process, is it appropriate for Christians to refer to themselves as “saved?”  Why or why not?
  • In verses 22-24, St. Paul says, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” He means that nobody of any ethnic or religious identity would have expected God to do what He did at the cross; God had to actually do it to reveal His heart, mind, and character to us.  What do you think the cross reveals about God’s character?
  • Think about the many speculations about God that fill the world; everyone’s ideas about God cannot be correct because they are mutually exclusive. How has the world not known God through (human) wisdom?  In light of what God reveals about Himself at the cross and through the Bible, what are some of the craziest ideas you have ever heard about God—the ideas most at variance with God’s revelation?

TALK:

  • Does anyone feel called to share something with the group, whether it is directly related to the Bible verse or not?
  • Does anyone have an insight or thought for someone else in the group?
  • Does anyone feel like the Spirit may be saying something special to them right now?
  • Some people may initially feel more comfortable expressing themselves with a meme, a short online video, a quote from a book, etc.

When talk time feels “done,” the leader moves on to prayer:

PRAY:

L:   Does anyone feel called to start us off in prayer today?

If nobody volunteers, the leader may start the prayer time with the following prayer before group members add their own petitions:

Gracious Lord Jesus, in your Word you have promised that “where two or three are gathered in your name, You are there among them.” (Matt 18:20)  You have been with us as we have shared our stories, read your Word, and talked as a family of faith.  Bless us with the Holy Spirit and let us feel Him move as we lift our thoughts and words to You now.

I especially want to pray for…

If the group prefers to pray silently for each other, a minimum of two minutes of silence should be kept so that people have time to complete their prayers. 

The prayers may be concluded with the Lord’s Prayer if the group wishes.

BLESS:

All group members take turns individually blessing one other member.

People should bless someone they have not blessed yet or at least not recently.

Blessings should begin with the person’s name.  Blessings may just be verbal, but when possible they should include a physical component such as laying hands on someone’s shoulders or head, marking the sign of the cross upon their palm or forehead, etc.

Here are some sample blessings to use until members find their own favorites:

  • “May Christ, our God, be with you.”
  • “May you be blessed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
  • “May the Holy Spirit strengthen and show you His ways.”
  • “May the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, guard and guide you.”
  • “May the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace.”

Once everyone has been blessed, the Leader for the day concludes the meeting:

L:   When will be our next meeting and where/how should we meet?  (place, online, phone call, etc.)

Who will be our leader for the next meeting?

Once the time and place of the next meeting is agreed upon, the leader closes the meeting:

L:   May the Lord bless us and direct our days and our deeds in His peace.

G:   Amen