What is discipleship? It is leading others to increasingly submit all of life to the empowering presence and Lordship of Jesus Christ. A disciple is one who increasingly worships Jesus, is changed by Jesus, and obeys Jesus’ commands. In essence, we aim to be disciples who make disciples.
Essential to the process of discipleship is prayer. If we are going to grow as a disciple and lead others in discipleship we must make prayer a priority. Prayer is evedient in God's people throughout the Scriptures. Prayer is an extension of the greatness and glory of God in our lives. Paul reminds us of the importance of living our our life in an ongoing dependency upon God.
Romans 12:12 “Be constant in prayer”
1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing”
Colossians 4:2 “Continue steadfastly in prayer”
Ephesians 6:18 “Pray at all times in the Spirit”
As disciples, we know that prayer is essential and we long to commune with our Father, but many of us struggle to have a deep and meaningful prayer life. I have discovered at least two things that contribute to our struggles in prayer.
- When we fail to make a plan for prayer it inevitably becomes less of a priority. Prayer needs to be both scheduled and spontaneous; it needs to be both organized and organic. Having a scheduled organized prayer time, at a point during the day, is the foundation for spontaneous and organic prayer throughout the day. And when we engage in spontaneous organic prayers this becomes the fuel for our scheduled organized prayers.
- Many people do not understand the purpose and manner of prayer and they get frustrated with it or become skeptical of it. When this happens we eventually give up on prayer.
WAYS TO GROW IN OUR PRACTICE OF PRAYER
- Create Space: We must create space for prayer is we are going to grow in our endurance in pray and teach others how to pray. If we are going to grow as disciples we must be intentional about prayer. Schedule time in our day for prayer. Organize how you will spend that time in prayer.
- Get Alone: Jesus creating intentional time alone with the Father in prayer (Luke 5:16). It is important establish a daily rhythm of extended personal time in prayer with the Lord.
- Practice in Groups: The early church often came together for prayer expressing their unity in Christ and their dependency upon God. One of the best ways to learn how to pray and build your endurance in prayer is by listening to others pray. And a great way to disciple others is through praying together.
A Prayer Wheel: Delighting & Dependency In God
Books: Highly Recommended to Read & Reread:
- Prayer:Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller.
- A Praying Life by Paul Miller
Personal Prayer Journal: This may be new for many of us, but it is an invaluable way to commune with the Lord. Think through how you want to use your prayer journal. With both by bible and journal opened, this is how I am journaling:
- With a black pen, I write down those things God is teaching me or reminding me of as I meditate on God’s Word.
- With a red pen, I write down things I believe the Lord is telling me directly through His Spirit.
- With a blue pen, I write down all the things He wants me to do in light of what He has just told me. Here a place on empty box before each task and when I complete the task I come back and place a check in the box. This allows me to keep track of how well I am listening and obeying the Spirit.
- With a green pen, I write down petitions on behalf of others or myself. Before each petition I place an empty circle and once God answers that petition I color the circle in with a purple pen and write beside the petition the date God answered.
Missional Community Prayer Journal: This is a great way to keep track of what, and who, you are praying for together as a community and allows you to see and celebrate all the ways God is answering those prayers. It will assist in keeping prayer as a central part of your community.
Create Space in your groups: Practicing prayer together has multiple benefits. My challenge is that our Missional Communities will make regular time for extended prayer together. I would suggest a rhythm of regular prayer together where you utilize both the prayer wheel and prayer journal. This would be a great opportunity to help one another grow as disciples and to introduce prayer to others and teach them how to pray.
MC DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
- What was new that you heard about prayer? New insight, new challenge, new area of prayer you have not thought about before
- Why do you think you, and your MC, might struggle in prayer? What are the reasons why we fail to pray, why we don’t go to God in dependence?
- Have the conversation, how are we going to encourage each other grow in prayer as a group, individually and collectively?
In Christ -