Can you think of a time when God answered a prayer in a way you didn’t expect? Share that story with us. (Intent: It’s always good to hear stories from each other. In this case it also prepares us for the story in Acts, where the crippled man gets far more than what he was asking for.)
- What stood out to you from Sunday’s message? Did God lay anything specific on your heart? Were you prompted to any specific action? (Intent: A simple way to start the discussion. Leave time for everyone to give input.)
- Make some observations about the people in the story.
- Who are Peter and John? What events have helped them be prepared for this moment? Why are they going to the temple and why is that important? (Intent: Help your group to recognize two things. One, that Peter and John have been prepared for this moment by Jesus. And two, they are going to the temple to pray and likely also to witness about Jesus. Nonetheless, they are open to however God will lead them and thus do not pass the beggar by.)
- What do we learn about the beggar? What details about his life matter to the story? What’s the difference between what he was asking for and what he received? (Intent: Help your group realize the power of the story. This man was crippled from birth! That heightens the power of the miracle and also helps us step into this man’s shoes. Imagine the hard life he has had, imagine how desperate he is. He is forced to beg for money, but what he really needs is Jesus!)
- What about the witnesses? What are to we make of their response to the miracle? (Intent: The people are astonished but not necessarily ready to believe. It will not be until Peter preaches the message that people will start to believe. This is a reminder to us that people may be amazed at what Jesus has done and thankful for the church, but that can be mere astonishment and not true faith. True faith leads to conviction and to action.)
- Who do you identify with in the story the most? The disciples (Peter & John)? The crippled man? The onlookers? Explain. (Intent: Now that you have reviewed the passage and considered who is in it, give your group a chance to identify where they are at. Some may feel like Peter and John, ready to share the Gospel and be a witness. Others may feel closer to the beggar and are in a place of desperation. Others may feel like the witnesses who are astonished but not ready to truly believe. The answer they give can help you lead them to an application. If it is Peter and John, who are they going to witness to? If it is the crippled man, cry out to Jesus with them. If it is the witnesses, what would it take for them to truly believe?)
- What are you praying for right now and how would you like God to answer? Do you believe that God is both willing and able to meet your needs? (Intent: We should be praying with faith that God answers prayers. We also have to be open to the reality that God doesn’t always answer prayers the way would like. In the end though, all we really need is Jesus.)
- This passage challenges us to be mindful of how God is leading and to share what we have been given (the Gospel and the power of the Spirit). How can we be mindful of how God is leading us? How we are we looking to share what we have been given? (Intent: One final application question. Help those in your group identify steps they can take to be Spirit led and share the Gospel)
Father, we come to you today from different places. Some of us come like the crowd, we have witnessed some of the amazing things you have done but have not truly believed. Move in our hearts Lord, convict us to respond to what we have seen. Some of us have come like the crippled man, desperate. We cry out to you, Father! Hear and answer our prayers! Yet even as we cry out, remind us that we have all that we truly need in your Gospel. Some of us have come like the disciples, ready to bear witness to all you have done. Help us to be mindful of how your Spirit is leading us and who we are to share the Good News with. Amen.
The application will depend on where each person is at. They should be challenged to either share the Gospel with someone, continue to cry to God in faith, or consider what it would take to move them from just astonishment to a fully convicted faith in Jesus. One application we can all share is being thankful that we have the Gospel that meets our deepest needs.