Examples: Prayer, Sabbath, and Fasting Leaders Guide

Special Considerations for the Spiritual Practices Episodes

  1. Spiritual disciplines are means of grace; that is, they are ways to help us be active and intentional in our relationship with God, now alive to Him by grace.  They help us withdraw from relying on ourselves and engage in dependence on God.  Although the understanding of spiritual disciplines is growing, some members of your group may be fearful or suspicious of the language of spiritual disciplines, fearful that they may become ends in themselves and become a form of works righteousness.  If this is the case, emphasize that these practices have no value in themselves, only as they help us actively love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.
  2. The theme of this DVD is experiencing God in the everyday.  These spiritual practices only have meaning if they help us interact with God in our daily lives, and make us more aware of how our daily activities affect our relationship with God.  We are conditioned to think that many of our daily activities are “secular,” having nothing to do with God.  Help your group to reflect on how their daily activities (sleeping, commuting, shopping, eating, working, etc.) actually do have an influence on their relationship with God.
  3. Suggest the following exercise to your group.  At the end of the discussion of the first episode, have each member of the group pick a spiritual practice (ideally a new one they currently are not doing) to implement for the remainder of the time you will be discussing this DVD.  In the last two meetings, have each one share their experience with the practice; struggles with doing it, things they learned about themselves, and how God used it in their life.  Below are some of the main disciplines:


Disciplines of Withdrawal

Solitude
Silence
Fasting
Keeping a Sabbath
Frugality
Sacrifice

Disciplines of Engagement

Study (Spiritual Reading)
Worship
Service
Prayer
Submission
Physical Exercise

 

Join the Conversation

Record thoughts and questions here that come up as you watch the episode.  Explore them later with the group.




 
Listen to God’s Word: John 15:1-7, Mark 2:23-28, Matthew 6:16-18

Discuss the Episode

  1. Lauren and Don discuss the idea that prayer is more than talking with God; it is entering into and participating in God’s life. Have you ever thought of prayer that way? Read Colossians 4:2. How can this Scripture guide us in bringing prayer into our daily activities?
  2. Sabbath-keeping is a way of honoring the pattern of work and rest that God established in Creation. Practically speaking, Lauren described it as “resting with God.” She mentioned two components; 1) not working, and 2) doing joyful things, such as worship, meals with friends, naps, and walks in the outdoors. How and when do you rest with God?
  3. Lauren believes that of the spiritual practices most often mentioned in Scripture, fasting is the least practiced in contemporary Christianity. Why might that be so? Have you fasted or considered fasting? What has your experience been or what concerns do you have?
  4. Fasting is most commonly from food, but Lauren mentioned that she also has fasted from books and technology. What things in your daily life might distort your relationship with God? What would a fast from these things look like?

 

Reflect on What Others Have to Say

Underline and mark ideas you would like to discuss.

Fundamentally, prayer is our response to the God who speaks to us.  God’s word is always first.  He gets the first word in, always.  We answer.  We come to consciousness in a world addressed by God.  We need to learn to answer, really answer—not merely say Yessir, Nosir—our whole beings in response.
Eugene Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness

When we keep a Sabbath holy, we are practicing, for a day, the freedom that God intends for all people.  We are practicing life outside the frantic pace set by financial markets and round-the-clock shopping and entertainment venues. We are practicing independence from the forces of injustice.  We are trying on a new way of life as we begin to allow our weeks to be changed in response to God’s promises.  We are practicing—pun intended.  Like a novice learning to play a musical instrument, we may be off-key at times.  It may be years before we are in harmony, and we will never get it perfect.
Dorothy C. Bass, Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time

In fasting, we abstain in some significant way from food and possibly from drink as well.  This discipline teaches us a lot about ourselves very quickly.  It will certainly prove humiliating to us, as it reveals to us how much our peace depends upon the pleasures of eating.  It may also bring to mind how we are using food pleasure to assuage the discomforts caused in our bodies by faithless and unwise living and attitudes—lack of self-worth, meaningless work, purposeless existence, or lack of rest and exercise.  If nothing else, though, it will certainly demonstrate how powerful and clever our body is in getting its own way against our strongest resolves.
Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives

 

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