To get you started
- Review the topics touched and the prayers of Jesus studied in the course of this series.
- Invite comment on the series. What have you found most helpful? What new insights did you gain or what familiar ideas came through with fresh power?
- Arrange for each person to write a thank-you note to another person in the group for their contribution to the group. See that everyone gets a note.
For the last session of this series we take up another of the prayers prayed by Jesus on the cross: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) NRSV
- To place it in its context, read Luke 23:44-49
This prayer gives voice to confidence in God’s love and affirms trust in God’s acceptance.
If we have learnt of the love and grace of God, this is a prayer that we too can make our own as we approach the end of our earthly lives. We don’t have to have a detailed map of the next world, we don’t have to rely on people’s near-death experiences, we don’t have to follow popular fables of the dead turning into angels; all we need is a quiet confidence in the God who loves us and holds us.
By surrendering ourselves into those loving arms we can go forward unafraid.
To talk about
- How does your faith help you face the reality of death?
But this prayer need not be reserved for our death-beds. Every day we can hand ourselves over into the love and grace of God. Especially when confronted by those situations where we are not in control, when tragedy strikes or grief or misfortune, then we can commend ourselves to the Father’s care, trusting in his love.
That doesn’t mean that we do nothing to help ourselves. God didn’t give us freedom and intelligence for nothing. But it helps if we make our effort on the basis of an underlying surrender to God.
The life to which Christ calls us is a life of commitment, faith and trust, so that ought to be reflected in our prayers.
To talk about
- What is the difference between surrendering ourselves to God in times of need and using God as a crutch?
If we commend our spirits to God for living rather than for dying, he takes us out of a preoccupation with ourselves and our own troubles. He widens our horizon so that the love that we have for God spills over into love for neighbour, and love for neighbour leads to a concern for people who are being hurt, oppressed, starved, damaged, bound or neglected anywhere.
Prayer in the Jesus model does not exclude the surrounding world from the conversation. It means that in love we lift up people in need wherever they may be. The Spirit-inspired love that moves us to take action on behalf of others, moves us to pray for them so that prayer and action work together like the two oars of a rowing boat.
Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38) Many people are ready for God’s releasing, healing, renewing reign. Pray for people who are willing to act as God’s agents in bringing individuals and communities under the will and purpose of God.
To talk about
Here are some definitions of prayer. Which of these do you prefer?1.“The desire for prayer is prayer” (Mary Clare Vincent)2 “Prayer is a love relationship with God” (Richard Foster)
3.”Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
- Write you own definition of prayer.
- At the beginning of this series we asked you to write down your questions about prayer. Have these been dealt with in the course of our journey? Have they been dealt with adequately? What questions have not been addressed?
- Pray with the newspaper open in front of you. Bring the people and situations that you read about to God in your prayer together.
- Make sure that each person in the group is prayed for by the group as a whole. You might decide to lay hands on the head of the one being prayed for as members of the group offer their prayers.
- Offer praise and thanksgiving for God’s presence and activity within the group.