WEEK ONE: BIBLE STUDY OVERVIEW
Insights on The Model Prayer — Matthew 6: 5-14 (NIV)
Background for the Group Leader: In this passage from Matthew 6: 5-14, we hear Jesus as He guides us through our journey and gives us pointers on how to have an honest and productive conversation with God. He gives us the words that encompass all our needs and all our fears.
As group leader, you will begin the discussion by raising the questions below, inviting them to share their thoughts and feelings. You do NOT have to use all the questions. These are suggested questions and you may skip any that may not seem appropriate for the group. Do not insist that they talk. Let them pass if they choose not to speak. For some, they will want to take the whole time to talk about their reflections. Ask them to limit their comments to two or three sentences and remind them that they can share more in small groups after the activity is over. If you notice that an individual is deeply saddened by what he/she is saying, you may want to offer him/her the opportunity to share more with a social worker, a family member or friend. This is not a time for therapy. It is a time to experience spiritual wellness by recognizing the positive and painful moments in life and affirming the individual’s experiences.
Directions for participants:
Week 1: You will review terms used, listen to the passage and follow your guide’s suggestions as you view the art associated with it. At the end, you may want to share your thoughts based on the guide’s questions.
Week 2: You will read the same passage together and discuss the questions, delving more into its message.
Week 3: You will read the closing reflection, listen to the song associated with it and together answer the final discussion questions.
WEEK ONE – ART FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
Insights on The Model Prayer — Matthew 6: 5-14 (NIV)
NOTE FOR GROUP LEADER: While allowing the group to view the image of Jesus speaking to the crowd during the Sermon on the Mount, the group leader will read or use the audio recording of the passage (Matthew 6: 5-14 NIV). In preparation for this reading, the group will discuss and reflect on the terms and historical information provided under “Terms to Understand and Discuss.” After discussing the terms, the group will silently reflect on the image and then the passage will be read while they continue to view it. The artwork will either be projected on a screen or printed out for easier viewing. The passage is printed below for further review, if desired. Follow the steps below:
Step One: Terms to Understand and Discuss:
Background: Matthew 6 is probably among the most quoted and well-known parts of the New Testament. In this chapter, Jesus reminds His followers that both service to the needy and prayer should be done humbly and quietly, without bragging and without any expectation of praise, acknowledgement, or reward. Further, He gives us the powerful words of the Our Father which encompass all the key elements of a good and effective prayer – acknowledgement of the God who created us, praise for Him, our request to join Him in His kingdom, our desire to do His will, our physical and spiritual needs, our request for forgiveness of our sins and our willingness to forgive others who have hurt us. Finally, we include our request that He protect us and guide us through the many temptations in life which may cause us to stray from His will for us and, ultimately, the kingdom which He has prepared for us. This passage closes with a reminder that God forgives our sins, but first, we must forgive those who harm or offend us.
Hypocrites: persons who present themselves as someone they are not. Eg. a fraud, a liar, a charlatan
Synagogue: a building where the Jews assemble to pray
Pagan: From a Christian viewpoint, pagans are generally characterized as those who are caught up in any religious ceremony, act, or practice that is not distinctly Christian. Correspondingly, Jews and Muslims also use the term pagans to describe those outside their religion. Others define the term paganism as any religion outside of Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity; whereas some argue that a pagan is anyone with no religion at all.
Pagan comes from the Latin word paganus, which means “country dweller”; paganism can refer to polytheism or the worship of more than one god, such as in ancient Rome. A pagan is also considered to be one who, for the most part, has no religion and indulges in worldly delights and material possessions; someone who revels in sensual pleasures; a hedonistic or self-indulgent individual. Another, more modern term is neo-paganism, which refers to some of the contemporary forms of paganism such as Wicca, Druidry, and Gwyddon.
These modern “pagan” practices are actually similar to their ancient counterparts in that they rely heavily on hedonism—sensual gratification and self-indulgence and the pursuit of happiness and pleasure to the exclusion of everything else. In ancient times, sexual ceremonies were a major part of pagan religions. The Old Testament references these religions in such passages as Deuteronomy 23:17, Amos 2:7–8, and Isaiah 57:7–8. (https://www.gotquestions.org/pagan-paganism.html)
The kingdom of God: Kingdom of God, also called Kingdom of Heaven, in Christianity, the spiritual realm over which God reigns as king, or the fulfillment on Earth of God’s will. The phrase occurs frequently in the New Testament, primarily used by Jesus Christ in the first three Gospels.
The basic meaning of the word kingdom in the Bible is God’s kingly rule — his reign, his action, his lordship, his sovereign governance.
Since God’s purpose for the world is to save a people for himself and renew the world for that people, his kingly rule implies a saving and a redeeming activity on their behalf. This is why the coming of the kingdom in the New Testament is called good news.
In and through Jesus, God, the king, is coming in a way — a new way — into the world to establish his saving rule. First, in the hearts of his people and in their relationships by triumphing over sin, Satan, and death. Then by the exercise of his reign, gathering a people for himself in congregations that live as citizens of a new allegiance of the kingdom — not of this world. Then Christ comes a second time and completes the reign by establishing a new heaven and a new earth. (desiringgod.org)
In the Lord’s Prayer we say: “Your kingdom come.” (Matthew 6:10) We ask the Lord to bring us to the kingdom because the way we believe it should be is not here in this world. We ask Him to bring His reign, His kingdom fully into the lives of the people, into our personal lives, and into the world.
The Our Father: the central prayer for all Christian believers given to us by Jesus Christ as part of His Sermon on the Mount to teach us how to pray. The first three petitions address our relationship and view of God the Father. The last four ask the Lord to address our human concerns and needs.
We also find this prayer in Luke 11: 2-4 where Jesus’ followers ask Him how to pray. In this version, Jesus adds “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11: 9-10)
Hallowed be thy name: the Lord’s name is holy. It is set apart from all other names.
Give us this day our daily bread: provide for our daily needs, including food
Forgive us our debts/trespasses: in this part of the prayer, we ask the Lord to forgive us for all that we have done, for the people we have harmed, for all that we have failed to do.
Step Two: Art for Reflection (Items needed: Artwork)
Group leader begins by saying: In this activity we will reflect on an image of Jesus giving a Sermon on the Mount which includes His most powerful prayer, the Our Father. Consider the impact of this message. Who is in the scene? What is happening? What does this image say to you? Try to put yourself into the image. Where are you? Reflect on the feelings and experience of each person in the photo. What would your feelings and experiences be in this circumstance? I will give you three minutes to reflect. (Group Leader gives the group about three minutes of silence for the group to consider and meditate on the visual impact of the art. At the end of the silent reflection, go to Step Three.)
Read the passage or turn on the recording of the passage:
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Chromolithograph after a drawing (1860) by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (German painter, 1794 – 1872), published ca. 1880 (Stock illustration ID:1430001810)
Step Three: (Items needed: Artwork, Passage from (Matthew 6: 5-14 NIV) printed below and questions for discussion and reflection.)
Group leader now says: “I will read (or play) the passage from Matthew 6: 5-14 (NIV). While you listen to the passage continue to reflect on the artwork.” After the reading, the group can discuss and reflect on any or all of the following questions.
- Describe the scene. Who is in the scene? What is happening?
- What does this image say to you?
- Reflect on the feelings and experience of each person in the photo.
- Put yourself in the scene. Where are you? What are you doing? What are you thinking? Feeling?
- What is Christ’s message in this passage? What is the implication of the message for those hearing it? For you?
- Can you describe the voice of Christ? His tone? His intensity? His inflection? His loudness? What do you think He might be trying to communicate with His voice and tone?
- How do you think the people react to His voice?
- Individuals in the crowd seem to be reacting differently to the message. Can you try to clarify the possible reactions of the different individuals? Which one of the individuals reflects your reaction best? Why?
- What do you suppose your conversation would be after Jesus leaves the scene?
- Does He motivate you to pray?
- How believable is this story for you?
- What other thoughts do you have about this image?
- Discuss the impact of this message for you.
NOTE TO GROUP LEADER: At the end of the session, you may want to allow the group to have a few moments for open discussion and what the session may have meant for them.
Reading Passage: Week One
Insights on The Model Prayer — Matthew 6: 5-14 (NIV)
5 “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 others. Truly I tell you, 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 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.