Jesus taught several things about prayer and how to pray. Have the students read each of the following examples. Have them write a summary for each example and explain the teaching on prayer. (Same summaries are included with each passage.)
Keep your prayers short. Some people think by heaping on a lot of words their prayer will be more effective. But Jesus says its is better to keep your prayers short and to the point.
Pray with childlike simplicity. Jesus said to prayer as if you were a child who is dependent on a parent for all your needs. He reminded us of the Father's great love which far surpasses the love of any earthly parent.
Pray with faith. God always answers each petition, giving an answer that is ultimately good for us. Sometimes, as with ayoung child begging for an unneeded toy, the answer is “no.”
Be persistent with your prayer. We are to keep petitioning God for all our needs as illustrated in the story of the person who visits the friend at an ungodly hour of night. The message is simple: God cannot resist answering the petitions of a person who is persistent in prayer.
Mark 11: 25
Besides private prayer, Jesus encourages us to pray with others, to the point that he promises to be present when “two or three are gathered in my name.” He also instructs the entire community of faith to come together and celebrate the Eucharist (see: Luke 22:19)
Jesus says to pray with a forgiving heart. He says that whatever we ask for in prayer will be given to us provided that we forgive anyone with whom we have a grievance.
After the students have written their summaries, on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being most difficult), have them rate how difficult it is for them to follow this teaching in their own lives.
Finally, call on students to come in front of the class and be “on the spot” to answer answers some questions and dialogue more about prayer. Use the questions below and and some more of your own.
Explain in your own words Jesus' teaching about forgiveness and prayer.
Which teaching do you find most difficult? Why?
Which teaching offers you the most encouragement for your prayer life? Why?
Do you think there is anything that is not appropriate to pray for? Explain.
Can you tell about an occasion when you were persistent in petitioning God? What was the result?
Tell about a prayer of yours that was answered.
Can you name two or three people you would feel comfortable praying with? Why?
Share a short prayer in your own words for everyone gathered here.