What do you find hard about praying? What kinds of things normally stop us from praying?
What sort of practices have you put into place in your life to help you pray? What would you counsel someone to do to improve their commitment to prayer?
Do we think of God more as our loving Father or the great God in the heavens – as far off and transcendent or as near and immanent? What are the dangers of emphasizing one of these aspects of God over the other? Which do you think we are more prone to emphasize today? Why?
What is an example of a difficult situation in your life in which you did not know what to pray for? Did you end up praying for that situation or not?
What are the situations in your life, or the life of others you love, that you are seeking God to intervene? Spend some time intentionally praying for those things.
In light of our circumstances, our response shouldn’t be “What If?” or “Why Me?” but rather, “What Now?”. Spend some time evaluating, and consider how God is calling you to respond in light of the situation you find yourself. Is there a need for repentance, reconciliation, contentment, etc.?
When you read Zechariah’s story in Luke 1, why do you think God made him mute? What did he do wrong?
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like God has been trying to teach you an important lesson? What was the lesson? How did you learn it in the end? Are you thankful now that he taught it to you? Why or why not?
Why do you think Mary and Zechariah are compared in Luke 1? What is Luke trying to highlight in each of them through the comparison?
What would it have cost Mary to have welcomed the plan of God for her life described by the angel in Luke 1:35-37? What reasons would she have had to reject or despise God’s plan for her life?
Describe a situation where your plan for your life went sideways and you were thrust into trusting God’s plans instead. How did you feel about it? What questions did you ask about God in that situation? Looking back on that situation, do you have a different perspective now than you did at the time it was happening to you?
How have you experienced suffering in your life? Past or present?
Read Genesis 1:26-30. This passage describes God’s original call on humanity to rule over all aspects of creation. Being made in the image of God means being rulers over all areas of life (arts, agriculture, academics, etc). What areas of life are you looking forward to experiencing in the fullness of resurrected life, and why?
How does knowing what lies ahead change how you approach suffering?