Prayer Bible Study

Sweet Hour of Prayer: Lesson 7

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Read Luke 1

Zechariah’s Prayer and The Magnificat

Questions to Consider

1. To acclimate yourself to the book of Luke, you may wish to use this synopsis (or another Bible Book Background). Today’s lesson will focus on Zechariah’s and Mary’s prayers in Luke 1. The remainder of chapter 1 is provided for context and backstory.

2. In your own words, briefly summarize the events of chapter 1. What does the Latin word magnificat mean?

3. Examine Zechariah’s interaction with Gabriel (11-20).

After telling Zechariah not to be afraid (13), what is the very next thing Gabriel says to him? Where is Zechariah’s prayer for a child? Is it fair to infer from Gabriel’s statement in 13 that Zechariah and Elizabeth had, at some point in their years of barrenness (7), been praying for a child? Considering their advanced age (7,18) do you think they were still praying for a child, or is it possible they had assumed by this time that God had said “no” to their prayers?

What can we learn about the way and timing in which God answers prayer from His answer to Zechariah’s prayer? Suppose God had answered Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s prayers for a child on their timetable: when they were young and Elizabeth had no track record of barrenness. How was God’s timing and His way of answering better? It’s often said that God typically answers prayer in one of three ways: “Yes,” “No,” and “Not right now.” Explain how God answered Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s prayer for a child in all three of these ways over the years of their marriage.

4. Keeping Zechariah’s interaction with Gabriel in mind, examine Mary’s interaction with Gabriel (26-38). Carefully read the words Gabriel spoke. Does he say, as he said to Zechariah, that Mary’s prayers had been answered? Would it be reasonable to think, from this passage, that Mary had been praying for a child? Why not?

5. In Matthew 6:8, regarding prayer, Jesus said: “…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” How does this concept apply to the timing and the way God answered Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s prayer, and how does it apply to God choosing Mary to be the mother of Jesus when she never in a million years would have thought to pray for such a thing?

6. Compare Zechariah’s response to Gabriel, and the consequences of his response (18-20), to Mary’s response to Gabriel (29,34,38). What reason did Gabriel give in 20b for “muting” Zechariah? Compare this to Elizabeth’s characterization of Mary’s response to Gabriel. (45) What part did belief play in both Zechariah’s and Mary’s response to Gabriel?

Read these verses. How do they apply to Zechariah (and his response), a mature man, and a priest educated in the Scriptures, as compared to Mary (and her response), a young, inexperienced, uneducated girl? Explain how God’s knowledge of each of their hearts and minds was reflected in the consequences He inflicted on Zechariah, versus the lack of consequences for Mary.

7. Examine Mary’s prayer in verses 46-55. Breaking it down into three sections, what does Mary focus on in each of these sections?




Describe how Mary praises God for what He has done for her personally. (46-49) Which attributes of God’s nature and character does Mary shine the spotlight on in 50-53?

Using your cross-references and your knowledge of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, explain what Mary is referring to in 54-55. Why would this be a cause for praise for Mary and for Israel? In these verses, Mary declares God’s goodness for keeping His promises to His people. Is there a way we can biblically echo this prayer this side of the cross? What are some promises God has made the church as a whole that we can extol Him for keeping?

Think about the way you usually pray and the corporate (group) prayers you participate in at church. Which elements (ex: praise, supplication, thanksgiving, confession of sin, etc.) that you/your church usually include in your prayers are also included in Mary’s prayer? Which are absent? Does a prayer have to include supplication (asking God for something) for it to really be considered a prayer?

Explain how Mary’s prayer can serve as an example for our own prayers of praise and exultation.

8. Zechariah’s words in 68-79 are characterized as prophecy, but do you see any similarities to prayer in what he says and how he says it? Compare Zechariah’s words here to Mary’s prayer in 46-55. What are some similarities? Differences?

Even though Mary does focus part of her prayer (46-49) on what God has done for her personally, do you get a sense from both her prayer and Zechariah’s prophecy that they are focused on the bigger, more grandiose picture of what God is doing for His people in redemptive history? Compare this with the way we usually pray. It’s absolutely fine and biblical to pray about our own personal needs, but is it possible we focus too much on the personal in our prayers and not enough on the big picture of what God is accomplishing in redemptive history through the church? What are some things we could pray about, both individually and corporately, that would shift our focus in that direction?


This week, model some of your prayers after Mary’s prayer:

  • praise God for what He has done for you personally
  • extol the nature and character of God
  • praise Him for what He has done through redemptive history and the promises He has kept to His church.

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Prayer Bible Study

Sweet Hour of Prayer: Catch Up Week

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

This week I’m preparing to speak at the Cruciform conference, so you get a catch up week!

Catch up on any lessons you might be behind on, go back and do any of the homework you may not have had time for, review your memory verses, pray through a Psalm or two, or maybe even find a prayer in Scripture to study that we haven’t looked at yet. It’s your week to use as you see fit.

Memory verses for review (there was no memory verse for lesson 1):

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Lesson 5

Lesson 6

Prayer Bible Study

Sweet Hour of Prayer: Lesson 6

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Read 2 Chronicles 6:12-7:3, 7:11-22

Solomon’s Prayer at the Dedication of the Temple

Questions to Consider

1. Are you familiar with what is going on in the history of Israel and in the life and reign of Solomon at this time? If not, use this synopsis (or another Bible Book Background) to bring you up to speed. Second Chronicles 5-7 are provided in today’s passage for context and continuity. First Kings 7:51-9:9 recounts the same prayer and events we’ll be looking at in 2 Chronicles 6-7, and is provided as optional, supplementary reading. Today’s questions pertain only to Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple and God’s response to his prayer in 2 Chronicles 6:12-7:3 and 7:11-22.

2. Briefly explain the recent event in Israel’s history that led to Solomon’s prayer and God’s response, and describe the venue and surroundings in which Solomon offers his prayer. Was this a private prayer or a public prayer?

3. What did Solomon’s body posture (6:12,13) indicate to himself, to God, and to the people as he prayed? Why is it important to present ourselves humbly and reverently to God when we pray, especially when leading others in prayer?

4. Let’s give a broad outline to Solomon’s prayer. What is the main focus of Solomon’s prayer in chapter 6, in each of these sections:

14-15, 18-




Examining each of these areas of focus, what would you say is the main focus of the whole prayer? Think about the prayers you’re familiar with in the New Testament as well as the way we pray today, individually and corporately. How much time do we spend pleading with God to hear and answer our prayers? Why do you think that is? Can you think of any New Testament passages that speak to the issue of God hearing and answering our prayers? Which of these areas of focus from Solomon’s prayer do we still include in our prayers today? What attributes of God does Solomon shine the spotlight on in his prayer?

5. In 6:16-17, especially with the phrase, “confirm Your word,” Solomon seems to be saying (reverently, of course), “God, You have promised X. We are holding you to that promise.” Does God need to be reminded of, and held accountable by us, for what He has promised? If not, what is the purpose of praying back to God what He has previously promised and asking Him to keep His Word? (Wouldn’t it be against God’s nature and character to break His word?) What does it do for us and in us, individually, and for/in God’s people, corporately, to pray His Word back to Him and ask Him to confirm it?

6. In 6:22-39, Solomon’s prayer follows the format of, “If _____ happens, then God, please do _____.” How does this format echo the and respond back to the terms of the Mosaic covenant under which Israel lived at this time? Briefly summarize each scenario Solomon presents as well as what he asks God to do in response:








Why is sin a major theme of these scenarios? Do you see a common thread running through the way Solomon asks God to respond to each of these scenarios?

Since Christians are no longer under the Mosaic covenant but under the covenant of grace, how would our prayers differ from this section of Solomon’s prayer? What are some themes we see in this section of Solomon’s prayer that are still appropriate for New Covenant prayers by Christians?

7. Remember the climate (spiritual, geopolitical, cultural, etc.) of Israel at this time. Why would Solomon bring up things like future war, famine, and sin in his prayer? Do you ever pray about your future sin or about calamities that could happen in the future? What do you ask God to do if/when those things happen?

8. In his prayer, Solomon several times mentions God’s people praying “toward this place” (the temple). Does he mean this literally – that the Israelites must physically position their bodies toward the temple in Jerusalem when they pray in order for God to hear them similarly to the way Muslims must face Mecca when they pray? What does it mean in a spiritual sense for the Israelites to “pray toward this place”? Does this have any application for Christians today? How do we, in a sense, “pray toward this place” this side of the cross?

9. Does God respond to Solomon’s prayer corporately (7:1-3), privately/individually (7:12) or both? What did God do in 7:1-2 in response to Solomon’s prayer? These actions were God showing His answer to Solomon’s prayer. How would you put into words what God was saying by His actions in answer to Solomon’s prayer? Was God pleased with Solomon’s and the people’s prayer? How did the people react to God’s corporate response? (7:3)

10. In 7:12-22, God answers Solomon’s prayer privately, individually, and verbally (instead of with actions). Compare God’s answer with the requests Solomon had made in his prayer. Does God answer Solomon point by point, or summarize? What are each of the themes of Solomon’s prayer that God addresses? What does God include in His answer that Solomon didn’t pray about? How do 17-22 apply to Solomon individually, and Israel corporately? What can we learn about the nature and character of God from His answer to Solomon?


•Thus far in our study, we’ve mostly been looking at private prayers offered by individuals. Solomon’s prayer is a public, corporate (Solomon leads the people, and the people pray along with him) prayer. What are some of the differences between public and private prayer? Between praying one on one with God and leading others in prayer? What are some elements of prayer you would include or not include in a public prayer versus a private prayer? Is there anything unbiblical about preparing for, or writing out, a public prayer you’ve been asked to deliver? Why or why not? Think about leading a group (your family, Bible study class, etc.) in prayer, and write out the prayer you would lead them in.

•Many American Christians believe that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a promise to American Christians from God. Now that you have studied the context of this verse, how would you kindly and gently explain to a friend who believes this, the true meaning of this verse and that this verse is not a promise to or about America?

Additional Resource: Properly Praying the Promises

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Prayer Bible Study

Sweet Hour of Prayer: Lesson 5

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4

Read 2 Samuel 11:1-12:25, Psalm 51

David’s Prayer of Repentance

Questions to Consider

1. Are you familiar with what is going on in the history of Israel and in the life and reign of David at this time? If not, use this synopsis (or another Bible Book Background) to bring you up to speed. Second Samuel 11:1-12:25 is provided above for the context of Psalm 51. Today’s questions pertain only to Psalm 51.

2. What is the overall theme of David’s prayer? Briefly explain the events in David’s life that led to his need to repent.

3. Compare David’s prayer to the prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector in the New Testament. What are the similarities and differences? Is every prayer pleasing to God? How would you describe the heart of David and of the tax collector? What does Jesus say about the person who prays this kind of prayer? What does Jesus mean when He says the tax collector was “justified” (Luke 18:14). How do we become justified in God’s sight?

4. Sometimes people tend to think “Old Testament God” is strictly wrathful and mean, that He’s just sitting around waiting to smite people for any little infraction (as opposed to “New Testament God” who’s nice and sweet and lets people do what they want). Is that how David sees God? Carefully work your way through each verse in this chapter, listing the attributes of God that David mentions or calls upon. God called David “a man after My own heart.” How does David’s prayer point to the heart of God? Why is it fitting and beneficial to focus on and declare God’s attributes when we pray?

5. Notice the motif of “washing” and “cleansing” in this prayer. How many times does David mention the concept of becoming “clean” or “washed”? Explain the meaning and significance of this motif in David’s prayer and in your own prayers of repentance. Can you think of any New Testament passages that also deal with washing or cleansing from sin?

6. What can we learn from David’s prayer about sin and about praying in repentance and for forgiveness? List the verse(s) – and explain how they apply – that demonstrate…

•David’s understanding that there’s nothing he can do to fix or make up for his sin. He must throw himself on the mercy of God to cleanse, forgive, and restore him:

•David doesn’t attempt to finesse, hide, or make excuses for his sin. He boldly admits and confesses it:

•David understands that sin (though it may cause collateral damage to people) is, fundamentally, rebellion against God Himself:

•God is right and David is wrong:

•We have a sin nature from the moment of our conception:

•God desires that His people walk uprightly and blamelessly:

•The need to be restored to a right relationship with God after we sin:

•After contrition, cleansing, and restoration comes joy:

•We are to deal with our own sin first, before teaching or biblically judging others:

•Praise is an appropriate response to and natural outflow of being cleansed and restored:

God wants our hearts. We can’t impress or fool Him with empty good works or rituals, but He delights in worship that springs from a heart grateful for His forgiveness:

7. There are a few verses in this passage that people sometimes misunderstand. How would you help someone understand these verses in the context of David’s prayer and our own prayers of repentance?

4- Does this verse mean that when we sin, we don’t need to repent to the people we have sinned against, we only need to repent to God?

5- A few people understand “in sin did my mother conceive me” to mean that sex (even within marriage) is sinful or dirty. Is that what David meant by saying this?

11- Does this verse mean a genuine Christian can lose her salvation by sinning?


The next time you pray a prayer of repentance, pray the words of Psalm 51 back to God.

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Prayer Bible Study

Sweet Hour of Prayer: Lesson 4

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3,

Read 2 Samuel 7

David’s Prayer Regarding Building the Temple

Questions to Consider

1. Are you familiar with what is going on in the history of Israel and in the life and reign of David at this time? If not, use this synopsis (or another Bible Book Background) to bring you up to speed.

2. Break chapter 7 down into three major parts or events and write a one-sentence synopsis of the main action taking place in each part:

Verses 1-3:

Verses 4-17:

Verses 18-29:

3. What did David want to do? (2,5) How would you characterize David’s desire to build the temple, especially in light of his prayer in 18-29? Was his desire prideful, worshipful, godly, selfish, grateful, immoral, etc.? Why did David tell Nathan his desire? (2-3) What was Nathan, as a prophet, supposed to do (4,17) before giving David God’s reply? (3-4) How was David telling Nathan this desire similar to the way we might pray for God’s guidance today? How does Nathan, as an imperfect intermediary between God and man, point to Jesus, our perfect mediator and intercessor?

4. Examine God’s answer to David’s “prayer” (to build the temple) in verses 4-17. What was God’s overall answer – yes, or no? Go through each verse, making a list of the reasons or explanations God gives David for His answer. Which of the reasons/explanations have to do with it not being part of God’s overall plan for (OT) Israel’s history as a nation? Which of the reasons/explanations have to do with God’s plan for redemptive history and the future Messiah? Which of the reasons/explanations have to do with David personally, as an individual? When God says no to your perfectly biblical prayer, have you ever considered that there might be more to it than just saying no to you personally? That maybe it has something to do with God’s larger plan for your church, community, redemptive history, etc.?

5. Examine David’s prayer (in response to God’s answer) in 18-29.

What is the position of David’s body while he is praying? (18a) Think of some of the other body positions we see in Scripture when people are praying. Is there any special significance or meaning to these various body positions? Is there one particular position that’s “holier” than the rest, or does God hear and answer our prayers without regard to body position?

How does David react to God answering his prayer “no”? What character trait does David exhibit most in this section? Which attribute of God does David focus on the most in his prayer? How does David’s recognition of God’s sovereignty impact his humility and inform the way he reacts to God saying “no”? How does this same sovereignty/humility dynamic enable David to look past his own personal desires to the good of his nation, the good of his son Solomon, the good of redemptive history, and the good of God glorifying Himself by carrying out His own plans despite David’s desires?

When we talk about praying “in Jesus’ name” we often explain that this means praying in agreement with and in submission to God’s will. Explain how David’s prayer exemplifies praying “in Jesus’ name” even as he looks ahead to the Messiah yet to come.

6. Do you notice the gospel motif in this chapter? David wants to do what for God? (2,4) And God basically says, “I don’t need your good works (5-7, i.e. for you to build me a house of filthy rags). You, and all My people, need My good work of salvation, and I’m going to give them to you by building you a ‘house’ whose foundation and cornerstone are the Messiah, whom you all so desperately need.” We may desire to do great things for God, but we desperately need Him to do far greater things in us, for us, and to us, in saving and sanctifying us. Spend some time in prayer this week asking God to do those greater things in your heart and life.


Have you ever prayed for something or wanted to do something that was completely biblical, yet God did not give it to you or allow you to do it? What was your reaction? How did your reaction compare to David’s reaction? How would more humility and a greater view of God’s sovereignty have shaped your reaction? Write out a prayer of response to God saying “no” in which you humble yourself and honor and celebrate God’s sovereignty.

Suggested Memory Verse