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Bible Study: Purposeful, powerful prayer

NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the MasterWork curriculum.

Bible Passage: Philippians 1:1-5

Discussion Questions:

— What is the purpose of prayer? Is your response an answer of theory or a reflection of your practice?

— What evidence would you offer that there is power in your prayer?

— If it is true that believers are powerless without prayer, what is the greatest example you have experienced of there being power through prayer?

Food for thought:

Why matters. The why, the purpose, the reason, the motivation behind what we do matters. Our actions are important, but they are not the full story. The gift can be extravagant and expensive, but if its purpose is to mollify and hold the recipient at bay, its value will be minimal. The gift can be simple and of no monetary value — a child’s drawing for a parent, say — but be given in love and become a prized treasure.

The same action can be hollow and empty, or weightier and more substantive than all the gold in Fort Knox, depending on the purpose associated with the action. Scripture itself depicts this reality, as repeatedly the Old Testament reflects the people of God engaging in the actions of worship but doing so for the wrong why, the wrong purpose. They sought to secure God’s presence and favor without entrusting to Him their hearts and wills. God called such worship hollow and meaningless because it was done for the wrong reason.

So when pastor and author Michael Catt writes of “Purposeful Prayer,” his intention far exceeds an effort to engage us in a perfunctory and ritualistic action. Rather, he confronts us with the reality that our prayer must have purpose — not according to our wishes but according to the purpose with which God has designed and ordained that it have.

Purposeful prayer recognizes we are powerless without prayer. Many Christians readily give assent to that statement. But we must each ask ourselves not what our lips affirm but what our lives reflect. Do our lives acknowledge we are powerless without prayer? Or do we proceed as if we can handle things on our own and make prayer’s purpose to be nothing more than the cherry on top?

So long as we approach life and our daily responsibilities as if we can get by on our own, then whatever praying we do is purposeless. Only upon the realization — in practice as well as in theory — that we are NOT adequate will our prayer take on the purpose of connecting us to the Power we truly need.


MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at www.lifeway.com/masterwork.

Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool or ordered at LifeWay Christian Stores.

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  • Staff/Lifeway Christian Resources