A Praying Life - Study Notes

Chapter 1:

  1. Are you, like Ashley (p2), cynical about praying? If so, why? If not, how do you combat cynicism?

  2. Do you keep a prayer list and if so, how does it work out for you? (p 3)

  3. Does just thinking about prayer tie you up in knots? (p 4)

  4. As illustrated (p5), do you have the correct theology or doctrine of being a child of God? Does it impact your prayer life?

  5. What can we do to develop more intimacy with our heavenly Father?


Chapter 2:

  1. On page 8, Paul writes “prayer is all about relationship…getting to know a person, God, is the center”. Has that been your experience? If yes, can you explain perhaps with an example; if no, will this truth have an impact in your prayer life?

  2. In prayer, do you seek an experience (p 9), an answer, God himself, or something else?

  3. Do your prayers seem disconnected from what God is doing in your life? (p 10) How so or how not so?

  4. Does your praying help you develop an inner quiet? (p 11)

  5. React to these two sentences on page 12: “A needy heart is a praying heart. Dependency is the heartbeat of prayer.”

After this week's study, has praying been more intimate with God? Check out this blog article: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/seven-prayers-for-those-you-love.

Chapter 3:

  1. On p 18, it says “Jesus wants us to be without pretense when we come to him in prayer. Instead, we often try to be something we aren’t”. Do you relate to this statement? How?

  2. On p19, it says we are messy – “nothing exposes our selfishness and spiritual powerlessness like prayer”. Do you feel that while praying?

  3. But, the contrast of coming like a child and children “never get frozen by their selfishness”. (p19) Is that at least one aspect of what Jesus means when he says (Matt 18:3), “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”?

  4. How can acting like a little child help you in your prayer life? (p20). Do you think it will have an impact on your theology? Intimacy with God? Other areas of life? How?

  5. Paul in this chapter continuously links the gospel and prayer. Have you thought of prayer in that way before or do they seem separate to you? (p21,22) Does it make prayer restful or legalistic for you?


Chapter 4:

  1. We are to ask in prayer like a child (p25). Paul gives some characteristics: ask for everything and anything, repeatedly, and without guile. Do you have any other characteristics? Why would Jesus like us to ask in these ways?

  2. What do little children believe about their parents that keeps them asking for things? Do we have that idea about God? (p26)

  3. We are to pray believing like a child (p26). In what ways will believing like a child change our prayer lives? Did you revisit the 2 parables in Luke and the 2 Gentiles who prayed (p 27) in your thinking through how to pray appropriately? How did it help?

  4. We are to pray as we “play” (p28). The apostle Paul is given as an example. Is the example helpful to you or not? How about Kim as the example?

Has thinking of yourself as a child helped your pray times this week?

Chapter 5:

  1. Why do you think Jesus needed to pray, similar to you and me?

  2. For you, does pray make more sense (p 33) when we come to talk to our heavenly Father as a child? Had you seen Jesus modeling that before you read this book?

  3. What is your reaction to the statement on p 35, “Jesus’ example teaches us that prayer is about relationship?”

  4. Do you try to “get to know God on the fly?” (p 35)

  5. What are some of your “objections” to having quiet time alone with God in prayer? Do they match what’s given on p 37?

  6. Are the suggestions for praying in the morning given on pages 38-39 helpful to you?

  7. Isn’t it great that God “longs to be part of your life” (p 39)?


Chapter 6:

  1. Do you feel helpless when you pray? Why or why not?

  2. How does the sentence on p 43 strike you – “Prayer mirrors the gospel”?

  3. How does the irony of your being helpless is the key to your praying and receiving grace to not be truly hopeless?

  4. How is the relationship between our theology and prayer life shown in this sentence – “Prayer is simply not important to many Christians because Jesus is already an add-on” (p 48)?

  5. How can the themes of good praying (p 49) – helplessness, relationship, repentance, asking, story, and hope – help your approach to prayer?

Have your helpless times been helped by praying this week?

Chapter 7:

  1. What are the things that draw you into prayer, like Paul’s list on p 52 (interrupting, selling, and boasting)?

  2. Do you pray just a few words or a verse often? If so, tell the reason(s) and/or impacts?

  3. How does being poor in spirit (p 54) help you pray? Is this related to being like a child?

  4. How do you think prayer and mercy relate (p 56)? Had you thought of those two concepts together previously?


Chapter 8:

  1.  What makes it hard for us (for you) to “turn our anxiety toward God”? (p 57)

  2. When faced with anxiety or chaos, what is your initial reaction? What has worked out best for you?  (p 58)

  3. Does praying give you that peace that passes all understanding in the midst of chaos?

  4. Why is prayer a better alternative to chaos than anxiety?

  5. Do you “watch God weave his patterns in the story of your life”? (p 60)

How is your praying helping out with life for you lately?

Chapter 9:

  1. Do you find yourself being cynical or have defeated weariness in your pray life? (p 63) If so, where do you think it comes from?

  2. Do you think cynicism is real, authentic as you consider problems or issues? (p 64)

  3. How do you think praying is the opposite of cynicism by being engaging life and evil? (p 65)

  4. The next few pages (p 66-68) are about our culture turning Judeo-Christian confidence in God (optimism) into confidence in humans which proves groundless. What are your thoughts about the author’s position?

  5. Does the author’s position help your praying, hurt it, or be neutral?


Chapter 10:

  1. How do you handle the “be warm but wary” (p 69) approach to both Christianity and prayer?

  2. When you pray, do you have hope and do you feel the Father’s love to give? (p 71)

  3. Do you “cry out for grace like a hungry child” in prayer? (p 72)

  4. Is thankfulness a part of some or all of your prayers? (p 75)

  5. How does repentance cultivate your prayer life? (p 80)

Is praying helping you defeat cynicism?

Chapter 11:

  1. Do you normally “see Jesus” in your daily life, in people you deal with? (p 82 and 83)

  2. How can Paul “give thanks to my God always for you” (the Corinthians) and still bring up their sins? (p 85)

  3. Why do we usually not follow Paul’s looking through rose-colored glasses at other Christians when we pray? (p 85)

  4. In this whole section on prayer from an inward perspective, are there any items that have influenced your prayer time, that you’ve changed as a result of the study?


Chapter 12:

  1. Were you surprised to learn that pre-Enlightenment scientists prayed? (p 92)

  2. In what ways do you think the Enlightenment’s mindset has influenced your thinking? (p 93)

  3. The author comes back to our being child-like not only in our belief system but in our asking in prayer, too. Were the examples given helpful to you and if so, how?

Chapter 13:

  1. Does your view of “power” (p 98) influence your prayers, do you think?

  2. Does your desperation (p 98) help you prayers? How?

  3. How do you “picture” God when you pray? Is it both infinite and personal? (P 99-101)

  4. Does praying help you balance God being both infinite and still interested in you personally?


Chapter 14:

  1. What do you think about “praying for a parking spot”? (p 103-104)

  2. Have you met some Christians who take the “praying for a parking spot” to some unusual extremes that perhaps do not honor God or are not done out of desperation?

  3. Do strange things happen (p 105) around you when you pray about a situation?

  4. Do you ever find yourself not being real with God in prayer? (p 106)

  5. Do you relate to the author’s saying if something “is not a need in your life” no need to pray, but if “it is for Kim [or for you]”, “So we pray”? (p 108)

  6. When you pray, do you think you are trying to “control God”? (p 109)

Chapter 15:

  1. In the first few pages of chapter 15, the author explores the extravagant claims Jesus makes in the Gospel of John on asking God for anything in His name. How did you or how do you now resolve this issue for yourself?

  2. How do you balance between not asking and asking for what you want?

  3. Does the model of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane help you in daily prayer and if so, how?

  4. Asking boldly and surrendering completely (p 117) – does that balance help you pray?

  5. When you pray, do you think that God “loves to give”? (p 118)

  6. Were you amazed at some of the answers to prayer given by the author (p 120-121)?


Chapter 16:

  1. On page 126, the author says God “wants our material needs to draw us into our soul needs”. Has that been your experience? And, how do you practice this in America today when so much of our “tomorrow needs” are available today already? Does that minimize aspects of your prayer life?

  2. How do we move our prayer life from the “adviser” way of asking to the “abiding” in God way of asking? (p 127) 

  3. How does this work out for you? Do you ask the “abiding” type questions when making a big decision?

  4. In prayer, do you “forget we are embodied spirits, designed to hear from God”? (p 129)

Chapter 17:

  1. Do you have trouble praying for change in others? (p 131)

  2. If you do pray for change in others, does it involve them becoming more like Jesus? (p 132)

  3. When praying for others, does God work on your life first? (p 133)

  4. How do you feel about praying for changes in yourself? (p 135) Scared? Not needed?

  5. Do you ever pray for changes to things in our culture? (p 136)


Chapter 18:

  1. Are there areas of your life that are “prayerless”? (p 138)

  2. The author says that accepting the circumstance you’re in (traffic, lines, whining child) can open a small door for my soul to God [to prayer] (p 139). What’s your reaction to this?

  3. Do you have examples where your self-will impacted your either praying, abiding or not? (p 139)

  4. “Prayer is the positive side of the surrendered will” (p 141). What impact does that statement have on your life?

  5. Do your interactions with others make an underlying assumption that it’s all up to you? (p 142) Or, do you affirm your statements knowing that God is part of the situation, too?

  6. How have you or can you reorient your approach to situations from self-will to loosing control to God for His will, even if it means a physical “loss” to you? (p 143)