Prayer Bible Study

Sweet Hour of Prayer: Lesson 10

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Read Acts 4:24-31

A Prayer of the Early Believers

Questions to Consider

1. To acclimate yourself to the book of Acts, choose a Bible Book Background to review. In today’s Scripture link, the entirety of chapter 4 is provided for context. Today’s questions will mostly pertain to the Believers’ prayer in 24-31.

2. Briefly summarize the events leading up to the Believers’ prayer. (1-23)

3. Is this an individual prayer or a corporate (group) prayer? (24)

4. How does this prayer address God? (24) Which words and phrases in this prayer demonstrate God’s sovereignty? Considering the events (1-23) that inspired this prayer why do you think the Believers would focus on God’s sovereignty in their prayer?

5. Explain the connection between verses 25-26 and 27-28. How do prophecy and the fulfillment of prophecy each demonstrate God’s sovereignty? What are some prophecies you see being fulfilled today? Have you ever prayed about them in the way the Believers did in their prayer?

6. Clearly the church was already experiencing persecution at this time. Did the Believers ask God to take the persecution away? What did they ask God for? (29-30) Why? Did God answer their prayer? (31) How? What did God’s answer to their prayer enable them to do? (31)

7. Did the Believers spend more time praying about God’s sovereignty and prophecy or more time presenting their request to Him?

8. What are some ways this prayer can inform our corporate prayers at church? How does this prayer teach us to view, and pray about, persecution?


This week, declare God’s sovereignty in your prayers and present your requests to Him through the “filter” of His sovereignty.

Suggested Memory Verse


Prayer Bible Study

Sweet Hour of Prayer: Lesson 9

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Read Matthew 26:36-46

Jesus’ Prayer in Gethsemane

Questions to Consider

1. To acclimate yourself to the book of Matthew, choose a Bible Book Background to review. In today’s Scripture link, the Mark and Luke accounts of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane are provided for comparison, and Matthew 26:1-35 is provided for context. Today’s questions will mostly pertain to Matthew 26:36-46.

2. Briefly summarize the events leading up to Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:1-35) Who is “them” in verse 36?

3. Examine all three gospel accounts of Jesus’ prayer. Which words and phrases describe what His state of mind and heart were? How do Jesus’ actions demonstrate that difficult times should always drive us to prayer as a first response rather than a last resort?

4. What is the progression of fellowship to solitude in 36-39?
36a- Jesus is with all eleven disciples

Why would Jesus have wanted to pray alone at this moment? When you are experiencing soul-rending grief or distress, why is it important to spend time alone in prayer? Conversely, how could it be helpful and encouraging to have close brothers and sisters in Christ, or your church family, physically present to pray with or over you?

5. What does the word “watch” (“watch with Me,” “watch and pray”) mean in verses 38,40,41? What did Jesus want the disciples to do? Is “watching” applicable to our prayer lives today? How?

6. Compare Jesus’ prayer in verse 39 to His instruction to the disciples to “pray like this,” followed by The Lord’s Prayer, (see lesson 8, especially the last paragraph of question 3, link above). Is Jesus contradicting Himself by not praying according to the template of The Lord’s Prayer? Why not? Explain how different situations, contexts, and states of mind can call for different kinds of prayer, which can all be pleasing to God.

7. Break down Jesus’ prayer in 39 and 42 and explain what He means (use your cross-references if you need help) in each section:

“My Father” (compare to the salutation of the Lord’s Prayer)-

“if it be possible,” (Is Jesus questioning God’s power, control, or ability? Why not, and what does He mean by this?)-

“let this cup pass from Me;”-


“not as I will, but as You will.”-

“if this cannot pass unless I drink it,”

“Your will be done.”

In what ways might each of these concepts apply to your prayers in times of distress? Describe the heart attitude in which Jesus approaches God in prayer here. Does this same attitude characterize your prayers?

8. How many times (39,42,44) did Jesus pray “saying the same words again” (44)? How does this not contradict Jesus’ teaching not to “heap up empty phrases” or “they think that they will be heard for their many words,” but rather is more in line with Jesus’ teaching on persistence in prayer? (it may be helpful to look back at lesson 8, link above)

9. How did God answer Jesus’ prayer? (read the remainder of the book of Matthew if you need some help) Why didn’t God give Jesus what He asked for?

A popular false teaching of the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) and New Apostolic Reformation heresies is that, if we just have enough faith when we pray, if we just believe enough when we ask God for something, He is obligated to give it to us or do what we want. Explain how Jesus’ perfect faith, His total surrender to God’s will rather than His own, and God’s answer of “no” to Jesus’ prayer completely blows this false teaching out of the water.

10. Explain how Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane demonstrates that prayer is not about getting God to do what we want Him to do, but about getting us to do what God wants us to do.


Do you completely surrender your will to God’s will – as Jesus did – when you pray? Are your prayers more along the lines of “My way or the highway,” or “Thy way, not my way”? Are you willing to let go of what you want God to do, what you think is best, in order to embrace what God wants to do and what God thinks is best, even if that means excruciating loss or suffering? As you pray this week, present your requests to God through the lens of “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

Suggested Memory Verse

Prayer Bible Study

Sweet Hour of Prayer: Lesson 8

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Read Luke 11:1-13, Matthew 6:5-13

The Lord’s Prayer/Jesus Teaches About Prayer

Questions to Consider

1. To acclimate yourself to the books of Luke and Matthew, choose a Bible Book Background to review.

2. Considering that the disciples were all good Jewish boys who had been praying all their lives, why do you think they asked Jesus to teach them to pray? (11:1)

Compare Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer (2-4) to Matthew’s version (9-13). What is “missing” from the Luke version?

3. Go through each verse of the Matthew version and explain what Jesus means for us to pray about in that verse:






Now write your own personal prayer in your own words that follows the general pattern of each verse. For example, instead of “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” your prayer might begin, “Heavenly Father, I praise Your holy name.”

Are the things Jesus instructs us to pray about mostly spiritual needs or physical/tangible needs? Why? How might it change the perspective of your prayer life to focus more on the spiritual than the physical/tangible when you pray?

Is it OK for us to pray for or about things that aren’t included in the Lord’s prayer? Safety on a trip? Healing for a friend? Giving thanks? Praying for your pastor? How do we know it’s OK to pray for those things if Jesus said, “Pray like this,” and those things are not included in His model prayer? (hint: Think about other NT verses about prayer, and remember who the author of Scripture is.)

4. Carefully examine Matthew 6:5-8. What is Jesus teaching us here about public prayer? What does He mean when He says “they have received their reward”? (5) Is Jesus forbidding public prayers, or is He teaching us to examine the motive of our hearts when we do it? With what motive of heart should we approach public prayer?

Have you ever seen a modern day version of “heaping up empty phrases”? (7) What did it look like? (Ex: Praying the rosary? Speaking in “tongues”?) How can we avoid heaping up empty phrases in our own prayer life?

If our Father knows what we need before we ask (8), what is the point of praying? How does the act of asking God to provide for our needs and work in our lives humble us, grow us in dependence on God, and help us align ourselves with God’s will and purposes? Could these be the purposes of prayer rather than giving God a “to do” list?

5. Study Luke 11:5-8. What topic is this mini-parable about? Who does the friend with the bread represent? Who does the man pestering the friend represent? What makes the man so persistent? What does this tell us about our own neediness, desperation, and dependence on the grace of God, and how should this drive us to persist in prayer?

How would you characterize the attitude of the friend with the bread? (7-8) Is Jesus trying to teach us that God considers our persistent prayers bothersome or annoying, or that He will, in aggravation, give us what we want so we’ll go away? Compare the annoyed friend with the heart of God in verses 9-13, and finish this sentence: “If even an irritated pagan will give the man what he wants…(hint: see v. 13).

6. Study Luke 11:9-13, and explain how this is “the rest of the story” about prayer that Jesus started in 5-8. Compare the asking, seeking, and knocking of God in verses 9-10 to the asking, seeking, and knocking of the man in verses 5-8.

Compare the child asking the father motif in 11-13 to the first verse of the Lord’s prayer in both the Luke (2) and the Matthew (9) version. Did OT Jews approach God in prayer as “Father” (you may wish to examine the OT prayers in our previous lessons, links above)? Why is Jesus teaching the disciples (and us) to approach God as “Father”? What is He trying to teach us about the nature and character of God, our relationship with Him through Christ, and prayer?


Read my article After This Manner, Therefore Pray and model your prayers after The Lord’s Prayer this week.

These gents do a lovely job on the hymn Teach Me to Pray, Lord. I thought you might enjoy it. (I am not familiar with the church itself other than this brief description, so you will need to vet it for yourself if you want to know more.)

Suggested Memory Verse

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.

Suggested Memory Verse

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