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Bible Study: What keeps you from 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 Passages: Luke 11:1; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Discussion Questions:

  • Are you more likely to conform to or react against expectations of you? Explain.
  • A close friend has recently become a believer. In discussion one day, the friend asks you, “Are Christians expected to pray?” How do you answer your friend and why?
  • How important would you say prayer is in your life? Would the time you spend praying cause others to think you consider it important?

Food for thought:

Donald S. Whitney, professor of biblical spirituality and senior associate dean at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote the book, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.” The book forms the basis for this MasterWork study. In the study Whitney, a former pastor, observed:

During the 1980s, more than 17,000 members of a major evangelical denomination were surveyed about their prayer habits while attending seminars on prayer for spiritual awakening. Because they attended this kind of seminar, we can assume these people are above average in their interest in prayer. Yet the surveys revealed that they prayed an average of less than 5 minutes each day. There were 2,000 pastors and wives at these same seminars. By their own admission, they pray less than 7 minutes a day.

It’s very easy to make people feel guilty about failure in prayer, but that’s not the intent of this session. Yet we must come to grips with the fact that to be like Jesus we must pray (Winter 2020-2021 MasterWork, p. 94).

We would likely be hard-pressed to find a Christian who questions whether Jesus prayed. Similarly, few believers would fail to acknowledge that prayer is expected of Christians. Matthew 6:5-13 makes it clear Jesus expects us to pray. Colossians 4:2 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 likewise emphasize that God’s Word spells out His expectation for us to pray.

If we know Jesus prayed and know we are expected to pray, why is prayer such a minor part of our lives? Based on the survey results, the time we spend on hygiene in the morning is several times as much as we spend in prayer all day long. Why is that? Whitney offers several suggestions, including that we don’t discipline ourselves to pray, that we doubt anything will happen if we pray, that we lack a sense of nearness to God, and that we have little awareness of real need for prayer.

If we believe prayer is important, let us join with the disciples in Luke 11:1 and ask, “Lord, teach us to pray.”


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 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 Resources.