A Call to Spiritual Reformation Study Guide

Here is the study guide for our final chapter in Dr. Carson’s book!

Chapter Twelve – Prayer for Ministry

  1. With what analogy does Carson lead on p. 205 of this chapter and how does he use it to make his point, particularly in relating it to the matter of prayer?
  2. How does the prayer of Paul in this chapter differ from the others we have studied in this book?
  3. What is the first of four important lessons to draw from this particular prayer (p. 209)? How does the author unpack the text to make his point? What cross references do you find especially helpful and why? How do you react to the statement, “Prayer is the gymnasium of the soul?” Where does Carson make application at the end of this section and how do you react?
  4. What is the second of four important lessons to draw from this particular prayer (p. 212)? What other examples from Paul’s prayers does Carson cite to demonstrate his point? What two things does Paul request in his prayer in Rom. 15? What two factors does Carson emphasize about the first request? Where does Carson find application for us today in this section?
  5. What is the third of four important lessons to draw from this particular prayer (p. 219)? How does Carson tie in the context in Rom. 15 to explain his point? Why does Carson say this manner of praying for Paul is “attractive” (p. 221)?
  6. What is the fourth of four important lessons to draw from this particular prayer (p. 221)? How is this reality in Paul’s life in Acts and history reassuring to us? What other biblical examples of this reality does Carson cite? What does Carson ask us to imagine about prayer at the bottom of p. 222 as if it were magic, not true religion and what is he attempting to get the reader to understand?
  7. How do you react to the two anonymous poems at the end of the chapter?
  8. What point does Carson make as he summarizes things at the end of this chapter? How do you respond?
  9. How will your prayer life be different as a result of reading this chapter?
  10. What one or two most significant things will you take away from this overall study on prayer?

A Call to Spiritual Reformation Study Guide

Apparently it pays to have the elders anoint you with oil and pray when you are sick. May well have broken through today with this latest bout with the plague. Thanks for all your prayers.

Here is the study guide for this Sunday’s 9:30 equipping hour. It was not available in hard copy form last Sunday.

Chapter Eleven – Praying for Power

  1. Carson opens the chapter with a question. How did you learn to pray? What was your experience in this regard and what point is he trying to make on p. 182?
  2. How does Carson reassert the theme of the book in the opening pages of the chapter? How has engaging in this study changed your approach to prayer?
  3. What are the two central petitions of Ephesians 3:14-21?
  4. How is the first petition “carefully circumscribed?” What does 2 Cor. 4:16-18 contribute to your understanding of Paul’s meaning in the first petition?
  5. What two important questions must we ask about Paul’s first petition? What analogy does Carson use to help explain the first question? How does he tie in Col. 3:5-17? What does of Phil. 4:19 contribute to your understanding Paul’s meaning in the second question?
  6. What does Paul assume with respect to the second central petition (p. 191)? What overreaction does Carson attempt to correct? How do “love” and “power” connect in Paul’s prayer at this point (p. 193)?
  7. When has the love of God in Christ been brought home to your heart with force?
  8. Why does Paul say it is important to know the love that surpasses knowledge (p. 195)? What “stunning implication” does Carson bring out? How does Carson work against “Lone Ranger Christianity” in light of Paul’s petition (p. 198)?
  9. What two grounds does Carson cite for Paul’s petitions (p. 199)? How does he tie in the earlier chapters of Ephesians to his argument? How does he tie in Jesus’ teaching (p. 201)? How does he seek to motivate us at the bottom of p. 201?
  10. How does Paul put his petitions into perspective (p. 202)? Where do you find inspiration to reform your prayer life from these closing thoughts?

A Call to Spiritual Reformation Study Guide

Here is the study guide for this week’s 9:30 equipping hour class in prayer in case you missed it.

Chapter Nine – A Sovereign and Personal God

  1. What challenges does Carson bring early on in this chapter to the popular notion prayer changes things?

  2. What two truths does Carson work from at the outset on p. 148 on the way to unpacking biblical reflections that can help us pray better? What problem does he say we have concerning these? Where does he offer biblical support for both?

  3. Which passages of Scripture does Dr. Carson argue bring both these truths together at the same time? Which proves most illuminating to you and why?

  4. Why does the author argue that the Acts 4:23-30 passage proves to be the most revealing of the seven passages under discussion?

  5. If we agree with Dr. Carson that the Bible affirms both truths as he attempts to demonstrate, where does he say we are to go from there on p. 156ff?

  6. How does he qualify the notion of freedom in dealing with the issue of mystery in reconciling these two truths?

  7. How does he qualify God’s relation to good and evil in furthering his argument?

  8. How does Carson relate the nature of God to the discussion? What wonderful truth does he articulate? How do you react to the statement, Christians are prepared to accept certain mysteries?

  9. What crucial lesson does Carson draw out before he concludes the chapter? How do the examples he cites help you in your understanding? How does he relate all this to prayer? How does he deal with the problem passages related to God relenting?

  10. How will this chapter make a difference in your prayer life?

A Call to Spiritual Reformation Study Guide

Here is the study guide for chapter 8 for this Sunday’s 9:30 equipping hour!

  1. Whom have you known personally who you would describe as distinguished by a particularly gifted ministry of prayer? What made it so?
  2. What is one of the most important steps we can take according to Carson in terms of our own prayer experience?
  3. Why does Carson think Paul’s prayer in Phil. 1:9-11 has so much potential to help us?
  4. What is the first of three steps in Paul’s prayer? What are the distinguishing things related to this step for which Paul prays? How does the virtue of love tie in here? How does Carson tie in Phil. 1:6 and 3:10-11 to make his point? How does Carson use specific examples to get after his meaning and where do you need to make application?
  5. How does Carson make application of this first step to members of the clergy in particular? Where does this give you insight into the challenges of your pastors?
  6. What is the second of the three steps in Paul’s prayer? How does Carson explain two expressions in this part of the prayer? What conclusion about Paul’s praying on p. 136-137 does Carson make and how do your own prayers match up to what he calls this most urgent need in the Western church?
  7. What is the third of the three steps in Paul’s prayer? How does he caution us about our pursuit of the excellent? How do you react to the statement, God is not interested in one hundred percentism? Where does Paul take such care in the end of the prayer to guard against the risk under consideration? What practical test does Carson apply to help figure this out in our own lives?
  8. With God’s help how might your prayer life change in light of this chapter in Carson’s book?

A Call to Spiritual Reformation – Study Guide #8

Here is the study guide for this week’s chapter in D. A. Carson’s book A Call to Spiritual Reformation.

Chapter Seven – Excuses for Not Praying

1. Before you read the chapter, what excuses have you encountered in yourself or from others for why people don’t pray?

2. What are the excuses that Carson lists? With which do you identify and why?

3. How does Luke 10:38-42 speak to Jesus’ perception of our busyness when it comes to making time for prayer? How about 1 Cor. 7:1-5? What might you need to cut out of your schedule to make more time to pray?

4. What two monstrous presuppositions lie behind the excuse of feeling spiritually dry? How do the two parables of Jesus speak to this according to the author? What implicit assumption is in both parables?

5. How is the third excuse trickier than the first two? What is God’s response according to Carson? Where does he illustrate this in Scripture?

6. Why is real prayer squeezed out in the fourth excuse? What is God’s response?

7. What is God’s response to the problem of shame in the fifth excuse? Where have you struggled with this?

8. What is the sixth excuse and what is God’s response?

9. As part of your reading of this chapter, spend some time with God examining your own heart with regard to excuses you tend to make about praying. How does the Lord speak to you? Where will the power of the gospel come to bear on your life to make changes so that your prayer life will undergo more and more spiritual reformation?

Call to Spiritual Reformation Study Guide

In case you didn’t get a copy this past Sunday, here is the study guide for this week’s discussion in the 9:30 equipping hour.

A Call to Spiritual Reformation – Study Guide #7
Chapter Six – The Content of a Challenging Prayer
(Colossians 1:9-14)

  1. What two foci does Carson say exist for a study of the Scriptures with a view to strengthening one’s prayer life?
  2. What question does the author raise about our praying in comparison with the kind of petitions Paul prayed throughout the Scriptures? How do you react to this?
  3. What is the first area of lessons provided by studying the prayer of Paul under consideration in this chapter?
  4. How does Carson challenge us to respond in evaluating our own prayer lives given the extensive nature of Paul’s prayers? What resources might you employ to help you grow in this area?
  5. What does it mean that Paul had “not stopped praying” for the Colossians? Where have you stopped praying for a regular, ongoing need, for which you need to resume praying on a consistent basis?
  6. What important link does Carson reemphasize in v. 9 of this prayer about the way Paul prays and what extremely important conclusion does he draw in this chapter? How does he make application to our lives? Where do you possibly relate in terms of your own experience?
  7. What is the second area of lessons provided by studying the prayer of Paul under consideration in this chapter?
  8. How does Carson qualify and unpack the one petition found in this prayer of Paul? How does he tie this in to the cultural and historical context affecting his readers and where does he make application to our own generation? Do you agree or disagree and why?
  9. What does it mean to live a life worthy of the Lord according to this petition? How does Carson’s explanation of this in terms of a shame-based culture help drive home the significance of this purpose to the petition?
  10. What are the four characteristics of a God-pleasing life? Which of these convicts you most and why?
  11. What are one or two ways this chapter will affect your prayer life in the future?

A Call to Spiritual Reformation – Study Guide #6

In case you may have missed picking up a study guide last Sunday for this Sunday’s 9:30 equipping hour on prayer, here it is!

Chapter Five – A Passion for People (1 Thessalonians 3:9-13)

  1. What does Carson say makes this particular prayer of Paul a serviceable model for what it means to pray for others?
  2. What biblical evidence does the author cite for his conviction that Paul’s ministry was first and foremost designed to serve the people of God and what relationship does this have to Paul’s prayers for his readers? For whom has God given you such a passion?
  3. What is the difference between the two questions, How can I be most useful?, and How can I feel most useful? Where does Carson draw his point from the biblical text? What is the relationship of this principal to praying for others?
  4. What does Carson conclude about Paul’s praying from 1 Thess. 3:6-8? What conclusion does he draw about our praying at the close of this section?
  5. What are the four themes that reveal Paul’s continuing passion for others in 1 Thess. 3:9-13?
  6. How does Carson further develop our understanding of Paul’s lush thankfulness?
  7. What three details does Carson bring out in the second theme?
  8. Why is the third theme so very important in our praying?
  9. What is it about the fourth theme that connects it to the first chapter of Carson’s book?
  10. What prayer for others is most fundamental and why?
  11. What changes will you make in your praying in light of this chapter?

A Call To Reformation Study Guide

Here is the study guide for this Sunday morning’s 9:30 hour:

  1. What basic question regarding sermons, programs, and leaders must never be displaced according to Carson on p. 64?
  2. What anticipated objection to this principle does he seek to answer in light of the two great commandments? What two opposing dangers does he expose? How does 1 John 4:19-21 speak to the second of these dangers?
  3. What additional objection does Carson anticipate on p. 66 and how does he answer it in light of his overall purpose in writing this book? What flawed school of thought related to prayer does he seek to expose in his argument? How do Paul’s prayers demonstrate the opposite?
  4. At some point during your week, take time to read through slowly and reflectively the various prayers of Paul recorded by Carson on pp. 67-74. How does the Lord use this exercise in your spiritual life? With what observations, convictions, impressions about prayer and your personal prayer experience do you come away from the exercise?
  5. What conclusion of profound importance will we never overlook if we follow Paul’s example in prayer according to Carson at the bottom of p. 74 and top of p. 75?
  6. What is the first of two corollaries that Carson brings to bear on the theme of this chapter on p. 75? How does it relate to his overall purpose in the book?
  7. What is the second corollary the author addresses on pp. 75ff? What notorious example of this principle does Carson address on p. 76?
  8. How do you react to the story about the abused woman and her journey toward forgiveness, particularly the statement, This forgiveness had to be total and unqualified . . . regardless of whether he responded in repentance or in wretched self-justification and anger? How might Luke 17:1-4 further speak to this question? Luke 23:34? For more help, see Ken Sande’s chapter on forgiveness in The Peacemaker.
  9. When you examine your own heart with respect to unconfessed sin, nurtured sin, what things does the Lord reveal within that you need to bring to the grace of Christ at the cross? Where might you need to practice some biblical peacemaking as a consequence?

A Call to Spiritual Reformation

Here is the study guide for this Sunday’s 9:30 equipping hour.

A Call to Spiritual Reformation – Study Guide #4
Chapter Three – Worthy Petitions

  1. What again are the two aspects of Paul’s framework for prayer in 2 Thessalonians 1 from chapter two?
  2. What is the first petition that Paul prays for the Thessalonian Christians? What explanation does Carson give about God’s calling in a Christian’s life and how does it tie into his prayer on their behalf?
  3. In light of this petition of Paul, what does Carson say should be our chief concern in petition and how does it relate to the framework Paul lays out earlier in the chapter? Why must we pray this way?
  4. How do you react to Carson’s question, When was the last time you prayed for such things?
  5. What is the second petition Paul prays for them? Why does Carson say this petition is so very important to pray?
  6. What is the two-part goal of Paul in these prayers? How is our glory tied up with Christ’s glory and what does this say about how we should pray for ourselves and others? How does Paul tie this idea back to his framework in 1:5-10?
  7. Again, how do you react to Carson’s question, When was the last time you prayed for such things?
  8. What reminder do we regularly need as evidenced by the ground of Paul’s prayer in conclusion?
  9. What does Carson mean by, It is vitally important to reflect on the extraordinarily wholistic thinking that is represented by this prayer (p. 61)?
  10. What one or two take aways from this chapter will shape your praying in the future?

A Call to Spiritual Reformation Study Guide

As promised, here is this coming Sunday’s study guide.

A Call to Spiritual Reformation – Study Guide #3
Chapter Two – The Frame Work of Prayer (2 Thessalonians 1:3-12) 

  1. What key question does Carson raise concerning v. 11 of the Thessalonians passage in the first paragraph of this chapter? Why does it matter that we ask this question and understand the answer?
  2. What is the first dominant feature of this framework in vv. 3-4? To what extent would you say that this component is a feature of your praying?
  3. How do you respond to the statement, The unvarnished truth is that what we most frequently give thanks for betrays what we most highly value (p. 41)?
  4. What signs of grace does Paul give thanks for in these verses? What practical implication does Carson suggest for imitating Paul’s example on p. 44?
  5. What is the second dominant feature of Paul’s framework for praying in vv. 5-10? To what extent would you say that this component is a feature of your praying?
  6. How does Carson connect the notion of the Thessalonians’ perseverance in v. 4 with the evidence of God’s judgment in v. 5?
  7. What does the prospect of a new heaven and new earth mean for both believers and those who oppose them?
  8. To what extent do you live with a sense of expectancy about the Lord’s return?
  9. How do you react to the notion of ultimate retribution for those who oppose the gospel? How does Carson answer the objection that retribution is a throwback to the more primitive stance of the Old Testament on p. 48?
  10. Why is it important that we adopt Paul’s framework of a fundamental orientation to the end of the age?
  11. Where else in the New Testament are we exhorted to live (and pray!) with eternity’s values in view?

God is at work in our midst! Will you join me in praying for a spiritual reformation in our prayer lives as individuals and a community of believers?