Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson.
1. If someone were to ask you, “Why do you pray and what do you pray for?” what would you tell them?
2. Why is prayer important? Does it really matter?
Read Colossians 4:2-6
1. Do you watch for God to answer your prayers? Sometimes he says “yes!”; other times it’s “no”; and still there is another way he answers: “Not yet.” Talk about times when you received these answers. Were you thankful for them at the time? Now?
2. How often do we pray for our preachers and church leadership? Paul asked specifically for prayer to open doors for the gospel and to be able to preach the mystery of Christ clearly. Take a moment right now to pray the same thing for your church leaders.
3. Read John 17:6-19. Jesus prayed for his disciples who already understood the mystery of faith. Share what line of this prayer strikes you most profoundly or surprises you and why.
4. Discuss how personal and corporate prayer (Colossians 4:2, 3) relate to actions, conversations, and the words we use to talk to those outside of faith (Colossians 4:5, 6).
Read Colossians 4:7-13
5. Paul concluded this letter by letting the church know who was serving with him while he was in jail. These were real people with real lives, families, and ministries who were impacting the world serving Christ using whatever talents they had. He mentioned Epaphras, a Colossian —their prayer champion. Paul wrote, “He is always wrestling in prayer for you… he is working hard for you.” Talk about what you think these phrases mean and how it would look for someone today to do this.
6. Read John 17:20-26. In verse 20, Jesus said he prayed “for those who will believe in me through their message” (italics added). Does it surprise you that Jesus prayed for you personally at the Last Supper before you accepted him as Lord and Savior? Discuss how this impacts your personal evangelization efforts to share the gospel with others.
7. Jesus prayed for all future believers throughout the ages. Explore his main points in this prayer. Does it strengthen or confirm your faith to read this? If so, how?
8. How can you pray for and serve your city or surrounding area? Examine some practical ways you can serve as an “Epaphras” for those around you this week.
Conclude your group time with prayer, using the following as a guide. Jesus, thank you for praying at the Last Supper for me and all believers. Holy Spirit, inspire us and help us to pray and devote our lives to serve, to encourage one another, and to be watchful for opportunities to share the gospel. Amen.