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Too Busy Not to Pray Study Guide: Slowing Down to Be With God

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The urgent need for prayer in today’s broken world is clear, but busyness still keeps many of us from finding time to pray. So Bill Hybels offers us his practical, time-tested ideas on slowing down to pray.

In this four-session video Bible study based on Hybels’s classic book on prayer, Too Busy Not to Pray calls both young and old to make prayer a priority, broadening the vision for what our eternal, powerful God does when his people slow down...

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The urgent need for prayer in today’s broken world is clear, but busyness still keeps many of us from finding time to pray. So Bill Hybels offers us his practical, time-tested ideas on slowing down to pray.

In this four-session video Bible study based on Hybels’s classic book on prayer, Too Busy Not to Pray calls both young and old to make prayer a priority, broadening the vision for what our eternal, powerful God does when his people slow down to pray.

The coordinating Too Busy Not to Pray Study DVD (sold separately) leads individuals and small groups through discussion topics, group activities, and in-between-studies assignments.

In Too Busy Not to Pray, you and your small group will learn:

  • The importance of a consistent time and place for prayer
  • How to organize prayers according to tried-and-true frameworks
  • How to hear the Spirit’s promptings
  • To love prayer time

Hybels helps you slow down, listen to God, and learn how to respond. As a result, you will grow closer to God and experience the benefits of spending time with him.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310694915
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 5/8/2013
  • Edition description: Study Guid
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 463,418
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Hybels is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., and chairman of the board for the Willow Creek Association. The bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Leadership Axioms, Holy Discontent, Just Walk Across the Room, The Volunteer Revolution, and Courageous Leadership, and classics such as Too Busy Not to Pray and Becoming a Contagious Christian, Hybels is known worldwide as an expert in training Christian leaders to transform individuals and their communities through the local church. He and his wife, Lynne, have two adult children and two grandsons, Henry and Mac.

Ashley Wiersma is a freelance writer and video producer of Christian-living, leadership, and spiritual-memoir products. She lives with husband and daughter in Monument, Colorado

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Read an Excerpt

Too Busy Not to Pray Study Guide

By Bill Hybels


Copyright © 2013Bill Hybels
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-69491-5




Through the ages, prayer has changed attitudes, changed circumstances, changed minds, delivered wisdom, delivered resources, delivered deliverance, cured sickness, calmed winds, healed marriages, untangled financial knots, emboldened the oppressed, expanded the gates of heaven, and brought to life those who were dead. In a word, prayer has mattered. And evidently, we believe it still does. Three out of four people claim to pray every single day, which means that in spite of our sometimes-fragile faith, we keep coming back to the ideas that God is willing to hear us when we call, and that he is able to lend a helping hand.

In short, this is why we pray.

Suggested Reading

Prior to meeting with your group to discuss session 1, read the following chapters of the book Too Busy Not to Pray (2008 edition):

Chapter 1, "God of Peace, God of Power"

Chapter 2, "God Is Willing"

Chapter 3, "God Is Able"


In functional families, children learn from the earliest of ages that their mother and father will respond to them when they have a pressing need. As babies, they know that when they cry in the middle of the night, Mom will show up with a concerned look on her face, eager to help sort out whether food or cuddles or added warmth is going to solve the problem—and then help provide that resource as quickly as possible.

They know that when Dad reaches down to pick them up, there will be gentleness in his touch. They know that when they spit up, Mom will be there to patiently clean up the mess. They know that when they smile, loved ones will smile back.

As they get older, they come to understand that birthdays and Christmastime will always involve meaningful traditions and lots of love. They understand that rules are established for their protection. They understand that when they violate those rules, there may be consequences, but also there will be forgiveness, there will be grace. They understand that whatever else happens, there always will be love. This is how it goes with good parents; they never neglect trying to meet real needs, and they never neglect trying to love well.

In Matthew 7, we read some pretty powerful words from Jesus about how we are to approach our heavenly Father in prayer. "Don't bargain with God," he instructs. "Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing. You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?" (vv. 7–11 MSG).

What he's saying, essentially, is this: As human parents, the best we can do is still not so good, when compared with God's goodness. We are fallen. We are fearful. We are broken. We are self-centered and sin-scarred and weak. Yes, we do our level best to love our kids well, but we are imperfect and inconsistent and our motives are impure at times. But not so with God.

No, we can come boldly before his throne, knowing that while earthly parents try to meet needs, our heavenly Father is always willing, always able to do so. While earthly parents try to love well, our heavenly Father loves us with a perfect and everlasting love.

Conversation Starter

We may shake our heads and chuckle at the kid who hands his teacher his completed geography test and then prays, "God, please make Detroit the capital of Michigan," but most of us have offered up our share of misdirected prayers from time to time.

For example, we fly down neighborhood streets, late to church again, praying that we won't get pulled over. We pray that our first date with this self-absorbed person soon will be over. We pull into a parking spot designated for drivers with disabilities, praying as we dash into the store that nobody who really needs the slot will be left circling the lot the entire time we're inside. When our kids are small, we pray they won't wake from a nap while we're trying to see just one task through to completion. We pray the snowstorm that's making a beeline for our town will miraculously be diverted, so we can carry on with carefully crafted plans. Women, in particular, pray that their "skinny clothes" will somehow still fit.

What is a humorous prayer request you've made along the way? Did things pan out the way you hoped they would? Share your thoughts with your group.

Video Notes

As you watch the video for session 1, use the following outline to record anything that stands out to you.

Prayer, through the ages

First experiences with prayer

Prayer that stirs the soul

The season of prayerlessness

A deep dive into Scriptures on prayer

God's inclination toward kindness

Video Discussion and Bible Study

1. Bill cited many results that prayer has yielded throughout history, including that it has changed attitudes and changed circumstances, delivered wisdom and delivered peace, and more. What are a few simple, practical things that you have seen prayer do firsthand?




2. The first time Bill experienced prayer was in the church of his youth. Thinking back on your own spiritual history, what was your first experience with prayer like, and where did it occur? How did that early experience shape your understanding of prayer and of God?

3. If you were to divide your prayer life into seasons or eras, what word or phrase would you use in naming each of them? For Bill, one prayer season was marked by disillusionment. Another, during his camp-counselor days, was marked by sheer exhilaration. A third was marked by prayerlessness. Take ninety seconds to note on the following grid a one- or two-word description of your own "prayer eras" as well as the situations or circumstances that surrounded them, and then share an entry or two with your group. An example is offered.

4. Based on the eras of prayer you recorded on the grid in question 3, what is the closest you've ever come to experiencing a season of "prayerlessness," similar to the one Bill described? Below, list three to five characteristics that describe what it feels like to live without the priority of prayer.






5. What situations, frustrations, or questions do you suppose typically cause people who love God to stop communicating with him through prayer?

6. Philippians 4:6 says to not "be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (emphasis added). Given that most everyone has experienced ups and downs, highs and lows, and ebbs and f lows to his or her prayer life, do you think it's actually possible to live this way? Why or why not?

7. For Bill, the solution to reconnecting with God after a time of prayerlessness was doing a deep dive into Scriptures dealing with the topic of prayer. Both in the video and in chapter 1 of the book, he cites several of the verses he found impactful, including the following:

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7)

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refu

Excerpted from Too Busy Not to Pray Study Guide by Bill Hybels. Copyright © 2013 by Bill Hybels. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


A Note from Bill Hybels....................     7     

Session One WHY PRAY?....................     9     

Session Two OUR PART OF THE DEAL............     27     

Session Three WHEN PRAYER FEELS HARD........     47     

Session Four PEOPLE OF PRAYER...............     67     

Tips for Groups....................     87     

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  • Anonymous

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    This is taking place in a small courtyard in the middle of the school. There are benches, trees, and small patches of grass. ~Ms. Clines the princable(?) of Jones High School

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