1. What are some of the general principles about prayer and fasting you can learn from this passage? Which of the principles described in the sermon encourage or challenge you? Any you disagree with?
2. How would you describe your own practices of prayer and fasting?
3. The sermon describes how prayer and fasting are meant to direct our hungers toward God; what are some other things we do instead with our feelings of spiritual hunger?
4. If legalism and license pose two main problems towards our practices of prayer and fasting, which is the bigger problem for you? What is the core belief underlying that struggle?
5. In the Gospel, all three persons of the Trinity work to help us direct our hunger towards God. Which description (the Father running to the hungry, the Son going hungry for us, or the Son reminding us what to do with hunger) resonates most with you? In what way are you being moved to direct your hunger towards God through prayer or fasting?
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“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 this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.