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The Spiritual Growth Triad: Giving, Praying, Fasting

We are about halfway through the 2021 Lenten season, so while it may be too late to start a small group study about Lent this year, there are three elements of Lent that are worth studying any time, all year. They are:

* giving, the way we manifest the love of God to others;

* prayer, the way we connect with God;

* fasting, what we give up to draw closer to God. 

As you consider which topic and series to study, start by reading Matthew 6:2-3 which provides Jesus’ direction on giving, Matthew 6:5-13 regarding praying, and Matthew 6:16-18 on fasting, then reviewing the following suggested studies.

The premiere study on giving is Randy Alcorn’s four-session video “The Treasure Principle”.  Covering the treasure, the spirituality, the sacrifice, and the joy of giving, each session ends with a practical “live it out” guide for experiencing what you learn. Throughout the study, participants are encouraged to interact with God over the issues surrounding giving.  This is not a video study. Participants would be asked to do the readings between sessions and review the discussion questions together at the meetings. The study guide and optional companion book can be found here:

If you search the topic of “prayer” on the Small Group Advisor website, you will find many to choose from.  I want to highlight “Prayer – Does it Make Any Difference” by Phillip Yancey.  You will not find the soft-spoken Yancey to be the most exhilarating teacher, but the material is essential if you want to understand the most important aspect of our relationship with God – our communication with Him through prayer.  Yancey answers the most common questions about prayer and blesses participants with concrete answers and applicable reasons for and ways to pray.

The term fasting means to “abstain from” which covers a lot more ground than food and drink.  It is also about getting yourself uncluttered so there’s room for the best that God has for you.  It may mean giving up strongholds, in which case  “Goliath Must Fall”  by Louie Giglio would be a great study.  It could mean turning away from your discontentedness to seek the contentment only God can bring, so you’ll want to study “Satisfied” by Jeff Manion.  Maybe a study on abstaining from the need to control is in order.  Karen Ehman’s “Let. It. Go.” is a perfect fit.  Her six week studio teaches participants to put God in the driver’s seat and the benefits of surrender.

Any of these studies will serve to deepen your spiritual growth, so consider doing them in a row, over several months, to truly bring the spirit of Lent to your small group experience.