How is prayer shaping discipleship?
In many landscapes prayer is placed before a meal, at bedtime, or at the end of a church service. Is that enough?
Too often prayer becomes mindless droning that fills the air with no real expectancy. It is reduced to duty rather than conversation, or habit over opportunity. In a world that is desperate for solutions, remedies, and justice; crying out to God for wisdom, strength, and discernment is minimized. For those that are called followers of “The Way” this attitude is unacceptable. Knowing and making much of God must be our aim.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” (Ephesians 1:18)
I was 15. Surrounded by my peers at one of my first youth camps, a week long exploration of the Bible surrounded by the woods and lakes of East Texas. To be honest, I went to spend time with my friends, get away from my family, and to play basketball. There was a pretty nice gym. God had other plans. The daily focus on God had me captivated. Everything else become secondary. My life had begun to shift, and it was about to get flipped upside down.
Toward the end of the week we gathered for a group recap. We sang, laughed, and some even cried. One of our leaders was ready to wrap up, so he asked if anyone would like to pray. After what seemed like hours, I volunteered. Understand something… I had never down that before. I could feel the sweet running down my face. My heart was beating a hole in my chest. Then peace. That prayer ushered me into a deeper confidence and devotion to God. It wasn’t what, how long, or even other people’s responses to my prayer that changed me. I was changed by a sobering awareness of a real God hearing my words. God became Daddy. God became friend. God became real.
Sense that time prayer has become second nature. My prayer time has brought me through my darkest and greatest times. I talk to God about everything. He hears my voice and knows my heart.
“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 CSB)
I wonder how the early church learned to pray? Was it part of a catechism, special discipleship training, Wednesday night bible study or even something that only happened on special occasions.
I tend to think that God became real to the early disciples through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Belief in Jesus made prayer as natural as breathing. Disciples modeled a life devoted to Jesus. Prayer was their best expression of their belief. They invited younger followers into the conversation, and God became real.
Prayer is one of God’s conduits from the natural to the supernatural. Life devoted to God is going to happen through prayer.
As a disciple maker one of our self evaluations is to assess the health of those we are discipling by reviewing our commitment to prayer.
- Are you praying for those God has placed in your life?
- Are you inviting them to join you in those prayers?
- Are you known as a person of prayer?
- Are others encouraged to adopt a more significant prayer life because of your example?
If you answered yes to three or more continue to share your life with those around you trusting God will continue to give you guidance as you make disciples.
If you answered no to two or more of these questions, I strongly suggest you follow one or more of the action steps bellow.
- Share your results with a mentor and/or coach. With their support prayerfully create a plan that encourages growth.
- If you do not have a mentor or coach reach out to your pastor, elder, or church leader for guidance.
- Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org