God’s Word reveals God’s ways.
Psalm 119:130, 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Psalm 19:7, Psalm 119:105, Psalm 43:3 and Proverbs 6:20-23
- The discipline of simple prayer creates a vision for continual prayer.
- We will begin to understand God’s ways when we align our heart and mind with His peace.
- God’s presence is more important than His direction.
- We will not surrender if we don’t trust and we don’t trust what we don’t know.
- The purpose of prayer gets lost when our conversations become all about direction.
- Trust is found in knowing who God is and how God is.
- As we develop our prayer life, we will begin to truly see.
- His Word serves as a light unto our path, not a spotlight into the future.
- God’s voice is made up of God’s Word.
- His presence and His peace are one in the same.
- The goal of prayer isn’t answers, but alignment.
- Surrender requires us to give up our way while alignment involves taking up His.
- Relationships are a place where we come to know and be known.
- If you are looking for God’s work in your life, you are more likely to see it.
- The discipline of prayer teaches us the patience to remain.
- Awareness is wasted if we fail to align.
“The role of the Scriptures and Scriptural understanding is to provide us with a general understanding of God and to inspire and cultivate a corresponding faith.” -Dallas Willard
- How would the world look if God answered every prayer you sent His way? What does that picture say about the focus of your prayers?
- God’s presence is more important than His direction. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? What do we lose out on when the focus of our prayers are centered solely on direction?
- Read the quote from Dallas Willard. How is our ability to trust God in prayer tied to our understanding of His Word?
- Read Psalm 119:130, Psalm 43:3 and Psalm 119:105. Why does God provide us only with a lamp to illuminate our path rather than a spotlight? How does the unfolding of His Word force us to remain steadfast in prayer?
- Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17. According to this passage, what are the four things that Scripture is useful for? How should these attributes of God’s Word shape our prayer life?
- Read Psalm 19:7 and Proverbs 6:20-23. What role does the Bible play regarding hearing God’s voice? How does interaction with Scripture fuel our ability to trust?
“The principle task of study is a perception into the reality of a given situation… Through careful attention to reality, the mind is able to move in a certain direction.” -Richard Foster
- How has God challenged you in the midst of this prayer series? What was the greatest insight you received and how are you going to put into practice what you’ve learned?
- Read the quote from Richard Foster. Where does awareness and alignment need to take place in your life? How will you align yourself with His will in this area?
- What does God’s Word say about the situation/thing you are wrestling with in prayer? Do you trust what God’s Word says about it?
We must let go of our demand to understand.
1 Peter 5:6-7, Philippians 4:6-7, Proverbs 3:5-7, Romans 8:26, 1 Kings 19:1-18
- His peace serves to protect our heart and mind.
- Requests are things we’d like. Burdens are things we are desperate for.
- We must be careful not to allow our requests to become demands.
- “God, speak to me.” is a prayer of submission that pushes us to listen.
- “God, provide for me.” is a prayer of patience that leads us to trust.
- We don’t pray so we can better understand our world, we pray so we can connect with our Creator.
- Simple prayers open up the conversation.
- Humbling yourself is a posture of recognizing who is truly in control.
- We’ve got to do the work to lay our burdens down at God’s feet and not pick them back up again.
- You don’t have to understand your situation for God to be in control of it.
- Sometimes the thing we need to surrender is our need to know.
- Our willingness to trust shouldn’t be tied to our ability to understand what God is doing.
- It’s impossible to be anxious about nothing when you are attempting to understand everything.
- What is the difference between a request and a burden? Have you ever felt a burden that influenced your prayer life? If so, describe this experience.
- What are warning signs when our requests have switched over to demands we place on God? What are some things you’ve demanded of God?
- How can God tell us to “not be anxious about anything” while also encouraging us to “cast our anxieties to Him”? How do we live in the midst of this tension?
- Read Proverbs 3:5-7. What is the danger of being wise in our own eyes? What does it look like to lean on our own understanding? Why doesn’t this posture provide the support and security we are looking for?
- Read 1 Peter 5:6-7. What are we recognizing or acknowledging when we humble ourselves in prayer? Why is humility a requirement for genuine prayer to take place?
- Read Philippians 4:6-7. How does God’s peace guard our hearts and minds? Do you believe you can experience true peace even in situations where you struggle to understand what God is doing? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Read Romans 8:26. According to this passage, how does the Holy Spirit intercede for us when our burden is so heavy we can’t put words to it? What comfort should this verse provide us?
- Read 1 Kings 19:1-18. In this story, God asks Elijah, “Why are you here?” This difficult question exposed Elijah’s heart and who he trusted. If God were to ask you the same question, how would you respond? How have you arrived in your current circumstances?
- “God, speak to me.” or “God, provide for me.” Of these two simple prayers, which one are you drawn to in the midst of what you are facing? Why is this a prayer you need to say?
- Where are you demanding understanding before you are willing to trust God with your circumstances? What would it look like to let go of these demands?
We must define what we want in order to understand what we need to surrender.
Mark 14:32-36, Matthew 6:5-8 and Ephesians 2:18-22
- Prayer is more about access than it is about answers.
- The process of submission: (1) Recognition (2) Sorting (3) Surrender
- The discipline of prayer is the essential part of a life of prayer.
- In order to see differently, we need to want differently.
- Prayer allows you to get to the places that are hard to reach.
- We enter His presence to gain His perspective.
- The power of intentional conversations keeps us from being reactionary by paying attention to what really matters.
- When we come to Him we are often desperate for answers, but in His presence we find that access is enough.
- Wrestling our thoughts out in prayer helps us with the grueling process of submission.
- We will encounter situations in life where we must believe in the power of prayer.
- Surrender is not just giving things up; it’s learning to trust God in different ways.
- Prayer is about growing our faith, not giving us answers.
- Praying for daily bread provides us the freedom to simply trust Him for what we need right now.
- We will encounter situations in life where we must believe in the power of prayer. How have you experienced this truth play out in your own life?
- Prayer is more about the access than the answer. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
- How would you define submission? What makes you answer in the way that you do? How does your answer influence your willingness to engage in the process of submission?
- Read Matthew 6:5-8. What did Jesus want us to understand about our motivation to pray? How did a person’s motivation for prayer determine their reward? What is our promised reward if we approach God with a right heart?
- Read Ephesians 2:18-22. According to this passage, what access have we been given in prayer? What made this access possible? What are you doing with the access you’ve been given to God in prayer?
- Read Mark 14:32-36. How does Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane highlight the grueling process of submission? Where do the elements of recognition, sorting and surrender appear in the words Jesus prays?
- The first step of submission is recognition. How do you recognize God’s sovereignty in the situations where you are engaged in the grueling process of submission? Where are you trying to be wise in your own eyes? How can you acknowledge HIs ways are greater than your own?
- We must define what we want in order to understand what we need to surrender. Think of the places where you are struggling to let go and submit to God’s will. In all transparency, what do you really want to happen in this situation? What would you do if you were God? Why are you reluctant to submit to God in this area?
- Where do you need to be praying for your “daily bread” and provision? What would it look like for you to trust Him for what you need right now in this situation?
A simple prayer precedes continual prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:17, Matthew 6:5-13, Ephesians 1:18, 1 Chronicles 16:11 and James 5:13
- The way in which you pray reveals what you believe about God.
- Prayer is His presence with us as well as our constant communion with Him.
- Pick a time. Pick a place. Pray with a pen.
- When things go wrong, we distinctively lookup.
- Small talk is the most important unimportant conversation.
- Small talk prayers are starting points where we connect and explore.
- Many mistake thinking about God for actually praying to God.
- God is worthy of our recognition and submission.
- Do your quiet time as though your life depends on it.
- You are only ten minutes away from finding the life God has for you.
- Praying with a pen helps you think about what you are saying.
- If we want to pray all the time, we must first learn to pray some time, somewhere.
- We believe prayer is a good thing, but many of us are unsure if it is a necessary thing.
- Our prayers are more about our relationship than our requests.
- Consistent prayer isn’t twisting God’s arm, but rather gaining God’s perspective.
- How have you experienced the awkwardness of small talk in your prayer life? How did you respond to this tension?
- How would one’s approach to prayer change if “small talk” prayers weren’t viewed in a negative light, but instead seen as a starting point towards intimacy and growth?
- How would you define a good or bad prayer life? What makes a prayer “good” and what are some indicators that one is doing prayer wrong?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:17. How does developing a discipline of prayer mesh with this passage’s call to “pray without ceasing”? What does it mean that prayer is being in constant communion with God?
- Read Matthew 6:5-13. What did Jesus want His listeners to understand about prayer? What are some key elements of prayer found in this passage (topics, mindset, focus, etc.)? If we are to let the Lord’s Prayer serve as our guide, what should our prayers center on?
- Read Ephesians 1:18, 1 Chronicles 16:11 and James 5:13. How do these verses speak to the purpose of prayer being about growing a relationship rather than blurting out a list of requests? Do you view prayer as a place of refuge? Why or why not?
- As it relates to your prayer life, how would you describe your current connection level? 1 (disconnected, non-existent, silence, etc.) to 7 (vitally connected, intimate, clarity, etc.). What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- The way in which you pray reveals what you believe about God. How do you think God feels about the way you approach Him in prayer?
- What circumstances or issues have been occupying your prayers recently? Where are you searching for God’s perspective? What is God asking you to do in the situation you are facing?
If you want to live life to the fullest, you’re going to have to deal with the dark side.
Galatians 6:7-9, John 1:1-13, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 3:16-21, Romans 7:15-20 and 1 John 2:9-11
- Today matters. Right now matters. Your next decision matters.
- We mock God by doing one thing and expecting different results.
- You can’t live life to the fullest when you are making dark side decisions.
- We deceive ourselves when we look in the spiritual mirror and say, “I don’t need to make any changes.”
- No one is immune to the dark side.
- What you plant is what you harvest. What you sow today, you reap tomorrow.
- We are people who plant dark seeds and expect to get light.
- It’s not enough to simply be available.
- Seeds that are sowed in private eventually bloom in public.
- Love demands freedom. If you want life, you should consider what you’re planting.
- We have a responsibility for what we plant.
- You didn’t get into your mess overnight, you aren’t going to get out of it overnight.
- Start by being a “tomato stake” type of friend.
- What thoughts and emotions did this week’s message create within you? How did you react to the call to confront the dark side and expose it to light? Where were you convicted?
- Have you ever seen evidence of the struggle between light and dark out in the world? Give some examples.
- Have you ever seen evidence of it inside you or someone you know? Give some examples.
- Your next decision matters. Do you agree with this statement? Talk about how much you think they matter and why.
- Read Galatians 6:7-9. Paul talks about sowing and reaping and relates it to your life. Do you think life is really like planting plants? How? Do you really reap what you sow? How do we mock God in the decisions we make?
- Read Romans 7:15-20. How does this passage speak to the internal struggle that occurs within each one of us?
- Read John 1:1-13 and John 3:16-21. What was Jesus’ response to the darkness? What comfort should Jesus extinguishing the darkness bring us in the midst of our struggle?
- Read Ephesians 5:8-14 and 1 John 2:9-11. You have no idea what hangs in the balance in your decision to sow the light. How does what we sow influence whether or not we’ll experience the prime life? How do our decisions influence the intimacy and connection level we experience in our relationships?
- Where are you planting the wrong seeds? What different seed do you need to start planting?
- How can you be a “tomato stake” friend and help others plant the right seed?
- You didn’t get in your mess overnight, you aren’t going to get out of it overnight. Where do you need to “not grow weary in doing good” and continue to plant good seeds?
Bouncing back is a godly mindset.
Philippians 3:12-14, Psalm 103:8-12, Isaiah 43:25, Jeremiah 31:31-34
- Success is a pile of failure: you’re just standing on top of it and not underneath it.
- We have the spiritual “yips.”
- Our entire lives can be controlled and destroyed by small little windows of time where we made a bad decision.
- We are a people who are so hung up on the mistakes we’ve made.
- When a mistake gets in our mind, instead of moving past it and forward, we stall.
- Difficulty and struggles should be used as a pushing point to make much of God.
- You should continually and completely forget your past.
- God has forgotten. Why are you hanging on to it?
- We like to erect trophies that should’ve been gravestones.
- If you keep wallowing in all of your mistakes, you’ve created theology that believes God doesn’t forgive you.
- Who in our culture wants to follow a God like that?
- You won’t find the full life that Jesus promises you by looking behind you.
- How determined are you to live life to the fullest?
- Our direction in life is to make much of the One who gave His life for us.
- You are slowly losing your memory. After an examination, the doctor says that an operation on your brain might reverse your condition and restore your memory. However, the surgery would be so delicate that a nerve might be severed, causing total blindness. What would you rather have: your sight or your memory? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Golfers spend most of the 300 minutes of a normal round of golf by themselves, between shots, when most of the time things aren’t going according to plan. How does this correlate to your life and your regrets? Explain your answer.
- How difficult is it for you to bounce back from a mistake, failure, or a foolish choice? How does your ability or inability to bounce back quickly coincide with the degree of failure?
- Read Philippians 3:12-14. The word “forgetting” in this passage means not just forgetting, but “completely” forgetting and “continually” forgetting. Also, it is important to notice that the forgetting is initiated by the runner. How do you work this out in your heart and mind?
- Almost all of us can identify a future situation that we know we will be in at some point. What would you want to say to yourself and how would you want to say it? How does your “inner coach” match up to what Paul implies in Philippians 3:13-14?
- Read Psalm 103:8-12, Isaiah 43:25, Jeremiah 31:31-34. If God remembers our sins no more, why do we often wallow in our past?
- Stuart quoted Dave Ramsey when he said that “Success is a pile of failure: you’re just standing on top of it and not underneath it.” How does this idea connect with living from Two Pockets? Discuss your perspective.
- Let’s pretend that you have a friend that is going through the same situation that you are struggling with. What advice would you give them? Give that advice out loud to your group.
- Those who have grit possess determination and direction. Where are your eyes set: forward or behind you? How determined are you to live life to the fullest?
There is no circumstance that can’t be transformed into something beautiful and epic in God’s hands.
John 10:10, James 1:2-4, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Genesis 39, Genesis 41:41
- God doesn’t promise changed circumstances. He promises to use them for His purposes.
- Being trapped is a position. It is not your fate.
- Have you made a plan for your circumstances?
- Are you standing on God’s shoulders?
- Maybe God doesn’t want to change your circumstances…maybe God wants to use your circumstances.
- If you have a clear WHY you can deal with any HOW.
- There is a time for everything, including your trials.
- When you see things the way that God sees them, you are more apt to do what God is asking you to do.
- God wants to meet you in the midst of your circumstance.
- Difficulty plays a part in you experiencing fullness.
- Firmness – Warmth = Rebellion. Warmth – Firmness = Entitled, spoiled brat.
- Parents are the primary spiritual influence in the life of their child.
- You don’t have to be absent FROM home to be absent IN THE home.
- Abundant. Ordinary. Dysfunctional. Tragic. Which of these words best describe your circumstances right now? Which word do you think best describes the circumstances of those closest to you?
- Stuart framed “parenting life to the fullest “as being kind, but having the courage to be both firm and warm. He also talked about the difference between being nice and being kind. Which do you tend to be as a parent? What are your thoughts about his idea of “parenting life to the fullest?”
- As a parent, where do you tend to fall in the parenting quadrants? From what quadrant did your own parents tend to parent?
- Read John 10:10. How challenging is it for you to trust Jesus’ promise of a “full life” when you come face-to-face with difficulty?
- Read James 1:2-4. For you, what is the most difficult part of allowing perseverance to finish its work?
- Read Genesis 39 and Genesis 41:41. What was one huge point that stood out to you regarding Joseph’s journey through unbelievable circumstances? What comfort should the words “God was with Joseph” bring us, especially when we face difficulty?
- Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. How would understanding “there is a time for everything, including your trials” alter your approach to times of difficulty and struggles for you personally and as a parent?
- “Maybe God doesn’t want to change our circumstances…maybe God wants to use our circumstances.” How does this statement effect you personally and as a parent (if applicable)?
- Which would you rather God do: change your circumstances, allow you to change your children’s circumstances, or use your circumstances for His glory and your good? Why do you think so many prefer to simply change their circumstances?
- “Being trapped is a position. It’s not your fate.” What are your thoughts about this? Are you feeling trapped? If so, where?
- Have you ever seen God use someone’s circumstances in a way that they were glad God allowed the circumstances? How about you? Where has God used your circumstances to bring you closer to Him or glorify Himself?
- What circumstance are you facing where you need to stand on God’s shoulders and gain some perspective?
Fullness comes from being both strong and weak.
John 10:10, James 1:2-4
- Most of us are trying to get God’s attention in ways that don’t even matter to Him.
- The glory of God is a human being fully alive.
- The grace of God is incredibly dangerous and incredibly inclusive.
- We treat Jesus and church like a lucky charm.
- We avoid weakness and vulnerability at all costs.
- Always winning doesn’t bring the fullness you desire.
- We are raising a culture of kids who are afraid to risk and terrified of failing.
- Jesus is the ultimate expression of strength and weakness.
- Religion is a thief of life.
- God had a purpose for your life long before anyone else had an opinion about it.
- Focusing on who you are not is getting in the way of who God wants you to be.
- God doesn’t need your perfection.
- We think in terms of “OR” (strong or weak) when God can make them “AND” (strong and weak).
- In your opinion, what are we meant to be? Do you think we are far from what we’re intended to be? If so, why do think this is the case?
- What do you think of the paradox of fullness resulting from being both strong and weak?
- Why is the quadrant of withdrawing such a dangerous place for you as a human being?
- Read John 10:10. How would you define “life to the full”? How has this verse been misinterpreted over the years? What does “life to the full” look like for you?
- How did Jesus, who was both incredibly strong yet intimidatingly vulnerable, exemplify fullness? Discuss an example that comes to mind.
- Read James 1:2-4. How is the depth of our character only exposed when we encounter pressure and struggles? How would our mindset change in moments of weakness if we viewed trials through this lens?
- Of the four quadrants (pictured above), where are you residing right now? Why have you decided to take up residency there?
- Where do you need to be strong enough to risk, even if it means coming face-to-face with failure? Where do you need to be vulnerable enough to display your weakness?
- When one is feeling down, he should take out the note “for my sake was the world created.” When one is feeling smug and arrogant, he should take out the note “I am but dust and ashes.” In your life, which pocket do you reach in and take out a note the most? Why are you always digging this note out of your pocket?
The local church is a visible movement of God’s people for God’s purposes.
1 Timothy 3:14-15, Ezekiel 34:16, Exodus 19:12-13, Hebrews 12:20-22 and Acts 14:27-28
- The church is a living movement not a machine.
- The church enlarges our view of God’s presence and power.
- The church provides the launching point for leveraging our everyday impact for Christ.
- A local church is a people called together for the purposes of being sent right back out.
- The local church is where God’s Spirit does a healing work among us.
- A healthy church is a warm, open, loving and healing community.
- The church is part of something bigger than we can ever imagine.
- A local church is not concerned with replicating people of sameness, but multiplying people around the unity of Christ who are unique expressions of His grace.
- Is it your default to ask people to come to church or asking people to come to Jesus?
- The only way to develop fully devoted Christ followers who live out stability, gratitude and generosity is to confront the places where a consumerist mindset has taken hold.
- One knows they are catering to consumerism in the church, when their focus is centered on what they are receiving rather than what they are contributing.
- The more entitled one feels over something leads to less gratitude when they receive it.
- What happens when we see the church more as a machine than a living movement? How does this viewpoint impact the way we see our contribution to our community?
- A local church is not concerned with replicating people of sameness, but multiplying people around the unity of Christ who are unique expressions of His grace. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Read 1 Timothy 3:14-15. Paul uses the imagery of the assembly of God and a pillar of truth to describe the purpose of the church. How should our encounter with Christ influence our engagement with the world around us?
- Read Exodus 19:12-13 and Hebrews 12:20-22. How does the church enlarge our view of God’s power and presence? What are the implications of our access to God’s presence through what Christ did on our behalf?
- Read Ezekiel 34:16. As you reflect on all the tragedy that has taken place in our world recently, in what ways does this verse bring you comfort and healing?
- Read Acts 14:27-28. The early church often gathered together to celebrate all that God had done through them. We should do the same. How has God been moving in your life and using you to make His name known?
- What is your unique expression of His grace and how are you using that expression to glorify God?
- Why is the church being an example of love, unity and compassion needed in today’s world?
Our ownership to the life of the church flows out of our understanding of His church.
1 Timothy 3:14-15, Romans 2:11, James 2:8-9, Ephesians 2:19-22
- We treat shopping for a church like a Black Friday event.
- We want the church to meet our needs, but at an acceptable cost.
- Finding a local church to attend is not the final destination, but instead, only the starting point in God’s plan for your life.
- The local church becomes a new and better family for you.
- A local church is where God expects you to be living life together with those that are not like you.
- The one thing that should be undeniable is our love for one another.
- Renters are only in it for the short time. Owners are in it for the long haul and think about the future often.
- When you are part of a church, there is no “US” and “THEM,” only “US.”
- Every person has an inner thirst for his or her life to matter. God has given the local church as a place that will satisfy this longing.
- The local church is God’s way of providing for us a new laboratory for learning to love in a new way.
- How would you describe your history with “church shopping”? How did you come to the decision to attend PC3?
- As it relates to involvement inside a church community, what is the difference between being a renter and an owner?
- What are some signs that consumerism has invaded your mindset towards church?
“The Church is a family, not an orphanage. You see, the reality behind an orphanage is usually characterized by a couple of things. Usually you have one or two overworked staff trying to serve a bunch of underserved kids and we spend all of our time and all of our responsibility trying to depend on those individuals to take care of all of the work. There’s really no burden of responsibility for the orphans to maintain, but a family it’s all in. There’s this responsibility that each and every one of us have.” – Dahti Lewis, Lead Pastor at Blueprint Church in Atlanta, GA
- Read 1 Timothy 3:14-15. What three images did Paul use in this passage to describe the church? How was Paul trying to combat our natural tendencies towards a consumerist approach to church shopping?
- Read Ephesians 2:19-22 and the quote from Dahti Lewis. What implications does the church being viewed as a household have in terms of investment and ownership?
- Read Romans 2:11 and James 2:8-9. How does learning to live and love together with people who are not like us help us fight the sin in our lives?
- How would you be described when it comes to your commitment to Christ and His church (owner/contributor or renter/critic)?
- Fill in the blank: For me, being an investor in PC3 looks like _______________. In what ways are you contributing to the mission of reaching people and helping them walk with God?