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

Prayer Group Guide

Week of June 13, 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:  2 Corinthians 5:1-17

1For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened — not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. [11Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.]

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:

  • St. Paul refers to our bodies as “the tent that is our earthly home.”  What does he mean when he says, “in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling?”
    • How often do you “groan,” because you are so longing for heaven, to be with God?
    • Do you think modern Christians often so hunger for God that they “groan” for the chance to be with Him?
    • What does this say about us as Christians?  How are we different from—less than—Paul and the Christians he wrote this letter to in this regard?
  • Paul adds to the above sentiment (in verse 5:2) the disturbing phrase, “if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.”  He seems to be saying that he or the other Christians he is writing to may be found naked—without a covering for their spiritual shame—at the time of their death, when their earthly tent (body) is “further clothed” (verse 5:4) by God—transformed into their resurrection body.
    • Is it possible for a person who has been given salvation through faith in Christ to throw that gift away?  If so, how might we avoid this?
  • Verse 5:5 indicates that the Spirit is our “guarantee” that God’s promise of providing a resurrection body is true.  (In Galatians 4:6 we are taught that we have the Spirit if we can believe in God as “Father.”)  This Spirit is why we have courage to walk by faith rather than sight; to live as though God is more real (even though we cannot see Him) than the world we can see with its rule of “eat or be eaten.”
    • Do most Christians today live as though they will “appear before the judgment seat of Christ” to “receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil?”
    • Do modern Christians think of Jesus more as someone who will forgive their sins no matter what they do or as someone who saved them from their sins so they can live in a different way moving forward—in a way that Jesus will evaluate at the time of their death?
  • In verses 11-15, the “fear of the Lord” (verse 11) is paired with “the love of Christ” as the motivation for Christians to “no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised”—to live for Jesus.
    • In what ways do you feel like you live for Christ?  In what areas of your life do you still live for yourself?  I what areas of your life do you mostly try to please others?
    • What small, concrete steps could you take right now to start to “live for Christ” in areas where you are not?
  • Verses 5:16 and 17 show how the fear and love of Christ motivate Christians to regard those who are in Christ differently—as people just like ourselves who have been saved from our past sins by Christ—as a new creation—and are now learning slowly but surely how to live every part of our lives “for Christ.”
    • In what ways have you found yourself looking at other church members from a merely earthly perspective, “according to the flesh?” (verse 5:16)
      • Would you want others to look at you that way?
      • How would you like other Christians to look at you?
      • How can we learn to look at other Christians as someone learning to live for Christ?
      • What behaviors by other Christians would help you remember to think of yourself as a “new creation” in Christ and to live more intentionally for Jesus?
    • Have you ever been tempted to leave church because of “people problems?”  At times like this are you thinking of fellow church members as “new creations” because they have been claimed by Christ?
      • What faith practices might help you remember to “regard no one according to the flesh” at church and stay involved in church life, where we help one another live more and more for Christ?

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