(Warner Brothers 2013)
Life will definitely have its share of difficulties, which is just one of the many reasons we need to know how to pray. Make it a priority to learn how to pray.
The Movie Clip:
Dr. Ryan Stone is a medical professional who was invited on a space project by NASA when disaster struck their operation. A Russian satellite was greatly damaged on the other side of the planet but the gravitational pull of Earth sent the jagged debris hurtling through space and into their work 300 miles above the surface. With the mission wrecked, and the crew dead or missing, the entire focus of the movie is Stone’s attempt to return safely to Earth.
The film moves from one scary encounter to another, and Stone learns that, at any moment, the harsh reality of space can consume her life, as well. It’s a relatively short movie, but it deals with ideas such as sudden loss, storms of life, and deep sorrow.
The movie was rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language, though this particular clip includes none of those elements.
Introducing the Clip:
I want to show you a clip from the movie
Gravity, the film starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, about two scientists whose mission in space was fatally interrupted when satellite debris hit their shuttle. The lives of several astronauts were lost in this unforeseeable accident. Take a look at that accident as depicted earlier in the movie.
Pretty scary stuff. I wouldn’t want to be caught in that predicament. But that’s exactly where Dr. Stone finds herself. I want to show you another clip, the key clip for our discussion, to show you how she responds to her situation. Take a look and we will talk about it in a moment.
OPTIONAL-For Context: If you want to show your students what started all of the troubles for Dr. Stone, you can show them the trailer for the film. It shows all the chaos that took place before the main clip (below) and is available at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiTiKOy59o4
NOTE: You'll need to either rent or purchase the DVD for this movie and cue it up to the following scene in order to show it to your students.
BEGIN CLIP AT 0 HOURS 57 MINUTES AND 00 SECONDS.
This clip has a lot of “introductory” material that isn’t really pertinent to the discussion below; it just tries to set the scene of hopelessness. The key line is when Dr. Stone says, “Will you say a prayer for me, or is it too late? I mean, I’d say one for myself, but I’ve never prayed in my life. Nobody ever taught me how. Nobody ever taught me how.”
END CLIP AT 1 HOUR 00 MINUTES AND 21 SECONDS.
How sad. Here’s Dr. Stone, a brilliant researcher who is stranded in space, facing imminent death, and all she can think about is having to ask someone else to pray for her because no one ever taught her how to pray for herself. That’s a grim situation. I hope that’s not the case with you guys. I hope you know how to pray. I hope you can pray for yourself…and others. Here’s one thing I know for sure: life will definitely have its share of difficulties which is reason enough for us to know how to pray. If you don’t know how to pray, I strongly suggest you making it a priority. Let’s talk about Jesus’ solution to that same problem for the next few minutes.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and whether we’d like to go to space or not.
- ASK A FEW: How would you describe Dr. Stone in that second clip we watched?
- ASK A FEW: In the clip, Dr. Stone lamented not being able to pray for herself because no one ever taught her how to. Do you think most people know how to pray or most people do not know how to pray? Why?
- ASK A FEW: How would you pray if you were in Dr. Stone’s predicament?
- ASK A FEW: What causes you to pray in your life? (Leaders – This can be “good” stuff or “bad” stuff. They can praise God for His goodness, or they can ask Him to help with a fear, etc.)
- ASK A FEW: Would you say you are a strong pray-er or a weak pray-er? Why?
Read the following passage:
ASK A FEW: It’s funny that Jesus begins His lesson on how to pray by teaching WHAT NOT TO DO. What are some of the things He says we should avoid when praying?
ASK A FEW: Why does Jesus tell us to avoid making a spectacle of our prayer life (praying on the street corners) and using long-winded prayers (babbling)?
Say Something Like: Now let’s take Jesus’ instructions about HOW TO pray line-by-line. I’ll ask you a question about each one of Jesus’ statements in His perfect prayer.
ASK A FEW: Why do we need to actually address God as we start praying? Doesn’t He automatically know that we’re talking to Him? (Leaders – It’s not so much that God needs to know we’re talking to Him. It’s that we need to know Who we’re talking to! He is Father! He is heavenly! He is hallowed! Our prayers should start off praising God for Who He is.)
ASK A FEW: Why is the very first request Jesus makes in His prayer about “God’s kingdom coming” and “His will being done”? (Leaders – Jesus is definitely OK with us praying about our needs, but He teaches us that we should first pray for what God wants…even before what we want.)
ASK A FEW: What does Jesus have in mind when He tells us to ask God for “daily bread”? (Leaders – This is the part of the perfect prayer where we get to ask for our needs.)
ASK A FEW: Why does Jesus mix “our forgiveness” with “our forgiveness of others”? (Leaders – Jesus wants to remind us that forgiveness is a double-headed: God graciously forgives us, and since that’s the case, we should be willing to forgive others. That just makes sense.)
ASK A FEW: Why does Jesus end His prayer by talking about “the evil one” and “temptation”? (Leaders – Spiritual warfare is a reality. Jesus knows our enemy and how dangerous he is. He tells us to ask God to direct us away from him because of how badly the enemy hates us.)
AROUND THE CIRCLE: How can you become a better person of prayer?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: How will Jesus’ perfect prayer impact the way you pray?
Matthew 6:5-13 (NIV)
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 "This, then, is how you should pray: "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'
In the clip we watched, Dr. Stone was in a precarious situation. Her life was on the line and she didn’t know if she’d live another day. But it seemed that her biggest regret was her helplessness over not being able to pray. She said, “No one ever taught me how to pray.”
I hope you never have to say that about yourself. I hope you never look back on your life, tomorrow, or in 60 years, and say, “You know, I never really learned to pray.” That’s because God’s Word has a very straightforward teaching in it about how to pray. In fact, it’s Jesus who’s doing the teaching.
In this simple prayer, we are given a “model” for how to pray. Yes, we “can” simply pray the words Jesus gave us; there’s nothing wrong with that. But if we only do that, we’re missing one of the great lessons Jesus wanted to impart to us. He was actually teaching us a model for praying.
Listen, life is going to throw you some wicked curve balls from time to time. No, you might not be trapped in a doomed spaceship 300 miles above the planet, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need God. And when you do, it’s best to know how to speak to Him. I strongly suggest speaking to Him the way His Son told us to!
Before we wrap up our “session on prayer” and “close in prayer,” let me strongly encourage you to do something that could change the way you pray for the rest of your life. If I can, let me invite you to keep a prayer journal for 14 days, a prayer journal in which you pray like Jesus taught us to pray. So, for example, Day 1 might say:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name (God, you are great! You are awesome! There is none like You.)
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (God I want what You want. Give me courage to do Your will.)
Give us today our daily bread (God, I need help on a test. Lord, I need Your wisdom to help me make a decision.)
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (I failed and I need you to graciously forgive me. I also need you to help me forgive a friend who wronged me.)
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Make Your path for my life clear. Help me walk away from the temptation You know I struggle with.)
Then, Day 2, you write out your prayers again by using Jesus’ prayer as your model. I guarantee you it will totally change the way you pray – and God’s power in your life – if you stick with it.
Just an invitation. But if you take it, you’ll never be the same.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith