Chapter 12: 'People that Persevered' - the rule of Persistence

In Chapter 12 we discover just how important persistence in prayer is, if we want to see our requests met. We will consider Jesus’ own teaching on this subject, notably the parables of ‘the persistent widow’ and ‘the friend at midnight’. We also examine the spiritual logic that lies behind the need to persevere.

Sermon accompanying chapter 12

Preached by Chris Band at Headington Baptist Church, Oxford on 19th August 2012
Download the study guide.

Questions

  1. Ask the group to share their experience, both positive and negative, of trying to be persistent in prayer. Are there any practices or strategies that they have found helpful? Have they ever questioned the need for prayerful perseverance?
  2. Read together the ‘Parable of the Friend at Midnight’ (Luke 11:5-8). Ask the group to paraphrase the story. Much of the parable’s meaning hinges on whether the key Greek word in v8 (anaidia – literally ‘shamelessness’ but often translated ‘persistence’ or ‘boldness’) is describing the friend on the street or the neighbour tucked up in bed (the grammatical context is ambiguous). Apply this key word first to the friend and then to the neighbour and discuss the different, though complementary, interpretations that arise [pp.206-208].
  3. Read Luke 11:9-13. What does Jesus teach us here about persistence in prayer? What does he found our confidence upon?
  4. Read together the ‘Parable of the Persistent Widow’ (Luke 18:1-8). Ask the group to paraphrase the story. What is the stated purpose of this parable (see v1)? In how many ways are the odds stacked against the widow receiving justice? How does she eventually secure it?
  5. Ask the group to list other verses or stories from Scripture that encourage us to persevere in prayer [see pp.211-212].
  6. Read Matthew 6:7-8. If God knows what we need before we ask him, why do we need to keep repeating the same requests? What spiritual logic might lie behind the call to perseverance in prayer?
  7. Discuss together the way in which persistence in prayer expresses our ongoing partnership with God in building the kingdom. In what way might we understand each prayer to be making a difference?
  8. Read Exodus 17:8-13. What does this story teach us about perseverance in prayer? In what way is persistent prayer part of an ongoing spiritual battle?
  9. Read the conclusion to Chapter 12 [p.216].
  10. What measures might group members put in place to encourage their persistence in prayer?