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1. What are the three most common emotions you feel when you come to God in prayer?
2. When you were a teenager, did you ever get in trouble trying to rebel against your parents’ authority? Describe the situation, the circumstances and the outcome.
3. In reference to Question #2, if you could have switched roles and been the parent, how would you have responded to this teenage rebellion?
4. This long prayer sums up the desires of Isaiah as he anticipates the salvation God has promised. What things might the prophet be recalling as he considers “the many good things God has done for the house of Israel” (Isaiah 63:7 – 9)? What do these verses express about God’s relationship to Israel?
5. What might the prophet mean in chapter 63:10 (see Psalms 78: 17 – 22)?
6. In Isaiah 63:11 – 19, Isaiah moves from recalling the past to considering the present. What questions must be on the minds of the exiles as they face their present suffering? What does this prayer tell you about their emotional state? What things upset them? Do you see this as more a prayer of confession, or of complaint? Why?
7. How would you compare the tone of the prayer in chapter 64:1 – 4 to that in chapter 63:15 – 19? What does that tell you about the emotional state of Isaiah? About his real desire?
8. In those days, women used strips of old cloth to catch their menstrual flow. What does that image (chapter 64:6) illustrate about the spiritual state of the exiles? What does the shriveled leaf illustrate?
9. In view of their spiritual bankruptcy, to what truths does Isaiah appeal as he asks for God’s help (chapter 64:8 – 12)? Why does he think that now is the time for God to act?
10. What is the “exodus event” that you fondly recall in your life when it was clear that God was working in you? How do you feel now when times of spiritual emptiness occur? Does it encourage you or discourage you to recall the past? Why?
11. When have you felt that God must need new glasses because He just doesn’t seem to see what you are going through? How do you account for His silence in those times? How do you pray then?
12. When you pray, do you express to God the full range and intensity of your emotions (joy, anger, sorrow, doubt, fear) or just a narrow band of them? Why?
13. How does your church tradition affect the emotional range present in your prayers? Have you ever wanted to say something like chapter 63:17 or chapter 64:12 to God? Why?
14. Where in your life now do you wish God would do something? How does that affect your prayers?
15. Was there a time when all your righteous acts became as dry leaves or menstrual rags because you lacked humility or did not call on God’s name? What hope do you have that God will still relate to you with mercy and grace (see Romans 3:21 – 26)?
16. Learning from Isaiah, chose one are of your own prayer life which might benefit from attention: repentance, faith, zeal, boldness, relationship, humility, contentedness, concern for God’s honor. How sill you strengthen this area?