Tag Archives: disciple

Mary and Discipleship

Luke 1:26-38
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.[1]


Who is Mary?

We learn the basics of who Mary is from Luke 1:26. It is pretty straight forward information, but it all bears noteworthy information about her.

  • She is from Nazareth in Galilee
  • She is a virgin
  • She is engaged to Joseph, a descendent of David (2 Samuel 7:12)
  • The Lord is with her
  • She had found favor with God

Mary is a young teenaged girl when she is introduced to us by God through the pen of Luke.

I don’t know about you, but I have always regarded Mary to be a girl beyond her years in maturity of faith. I don’t know any teenage girls who would respond to the angel Gabriel in the manner in which Mary demonstrates. However, a well-discipled teenage girl might have the wherewithal to respond in faith as Mary.

Examples of discipleship from Mary’s encounter with Gabriel

Fear

In Luke 1:29-30 we see that Mary was afraid. The meaning of the Greek word used here is to agitate, trouble. To stir up throughout. Spoken of the mind, and elsewhere, to disturb, agitate.[1]

We see this often in the scripture when an angel shows up to make an announcement to humans. The first, and very human, response is fear.

I have never been visited by an angel, have you? I can only imagine it would be an unsettling experience.

As a matter of fact, when I was encapsulated by the Lord Jesus years ago, it was an unsettling experience for my mind and soul. I knew change was coming and it frightened me beyond any fear I had experienced in the past. It was a fear of the unknown, the changes to take place and the disruption to my pre-Christian life.

Fear has been hard-wired into all of us when big change is on the horizon. Mary’s reaction to Gabriel’s appearance was her natural human response.

When you begin the discipleship process with another, fear will likely be one of the new disciple’s greatest adversaries.

Help a disciple overcome fear with faith.

Share some of these “fear not” verses with a new believer who is frightened of the changes they will be experiencing throughout the process of discipleship.

  • Isaiah 41:10
  • Psalm 56:3
  • Philippians 4:6-7
  • John 14:27
  • 2 Timothy 1:7
  • 1 John 4:18

Questioning

Mary’s second response to Gabriel was to question what he was telling her. She wasn’t questioning from an attitude of doubt, she was questioning from an attitude of faith.

Luke 1:34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

When Mary is described as a “virgin” the original language for the word “virgin” literally means one who is not intimate with a man. She knew how babies were made; she just didn’t know how that could possibly happen to her. She was a good and obedient betrothed; she wasn’t messing around on the side.

Mary’s question is a growth question. Her eyes could only see the human aspect of the scenario described by Gabriel. She was asking how. She did not ask why.

She had her plans laid out; she was betrothed to Joseph and she would be married when the year’s time had passed. This pronouncement threw a kink in her timeline.

As disciple makers we will be asked how questions all the time. Be prepared to give an answer from scripture.

When I was being discipled, I asked a lot of questions. I had no biblical background and had never owned a bible. Every bit of information I was being taught was a foreign concept. My disciple maker possessed the patience of Job and answered all my questions with compassion and patience. When my disciple maker didn’t know the answer she would pull out a reference book on the spot or she would research the answer and share it the next time we met.

Gabriel answered Mary’s question with compassion and patience.

Submission

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Mary’s response to Gabriel’s message is astonishing! Her complete submission and obedience are what all disciples are to achieve.

Mary heard the message, questioned it with faith, then completely submitted to it with full confidence in the One who delivered it.

Obedience to His Word is where real growth begins.

For some disciples of Christ obedience to His Word seems as easy as walking – it comes naturally to them. For others, obedience will be a challenge.

Make sure you can identify the difference between learners, listeners, and life-giving obeyers.

  • Learners take in information and may or may not obey.
  • Listeners hear, but do not obey.
  • Life-giving obeyers take it in and obey what they are told.

if-we-truly-trust-and-believe-in-gods-power-to-deliver-on-his-promises-alannah-francis

Read the article by Alannah Francis here!


[1] NASB

[1]Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.) (G1298). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

Self-Feeders

Developing self-feeding disciples needs to be a disciple maker’s highest priority.

One of the pitfalls I have fallen into as a disciple maker is allowing those I have discipled to become dependent upon my instruction and direction each week instead of developing them into independent self-feeders.

When I invite someone into discipleship training, I ask them for a two year commitment of their time.  Jesus spent three years with His disciples and they were together pretty much 24/7.  That is some intensive life-on-life training!  My once per week table time with disciples is a pitiful investment by comparison.

Why is it so important that we develop self-feeders?

 

Jesus is the Bread of Life

“Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” [1]

John 6:57-58

 

Disciple Makers today have a plethora of material resources at our disposal for training disciples. However, if we don’t model and teach them to feed themselves on a daily basis we have failed miserably!


Pray for Self-Feeders

The following list is borrowed from “The Lost Art of Disciple Making” by Leroy Eims.

Pray your disciples will long for the Word of God.

Monday   

Pray Psalm 119:97

“Oh how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.”

Prayer:  O Lord, may (name of disciple) love your law and meditate on it daily.

 

Tuesday 

Pray Psalm 119:29

“Thy testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul observes them.”

Prayer:  Lord, may (name of disciple) consider Your Word wonderful and obey it fully.”

 

Wednesday

Pray Psalm 119:131

“I opened my mouth wide and panted, for I longed for Thy commandments.”

Prayer:  May (name of disciple) have this kind of a desire for Your Word.

 

Thursday  

Pray Psalm 119:140

“Thy Word is very pure, therefore Thy servant loves it.”

Prayer:  Lord, may (name of disciple) have a great love for Your Word.

 

Friday

Pray Psalm 119:148

“My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may mediate on Thy Word.”

Prayer:  May (name of disciple) look forward to nighttime so that (name of disciple) can meditate on Your Word as (name of disciple)                                              goes to sleep.

 

Saturday     

Pray Psalm 119:162

“I rejoice at They Word, as one who finds great spoil.”

Prayer:  O Lord, help (name of disciple) rejoice in Your Word constantly.


As you can see from this example, any verse from Psalm 119 can be transformed into a prayer for your disciple/s with regard to discovering a hunger and thirst for the Word of God on a daily basis.

Without learning to feed themselves on the Word of God, they will become wholly dependent upon you and others to feed them the pure meat of the Word.  They will be crippled for the remainder of their life if they do not learn to feed themselves.

Right now I am imagining a starving person.  We have all seen the images on our television or in magazines.  The emaciation of a starving human being makes us want to look away, doesn’t it?  The same goes for a disciple of Christ who has not disciplined themselves to feed on God’s Word on a daily basis. It is the same as going without nourishment of the body for days, weeks, months on end.  It leads to death – spiritual death.

Start them on the righteous path – pray for them to be given a hunger for His Word that they will nourish themselves daily for the rest of their earthly life.

Model self-feeding for them. Share what you have feasted on during your time apart from one another and ask them to do the same.

[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

How to Begin Disciple Making

“Keep the first things first.”  I have no idea who coined this phrase, but it is a good rule of thumb in disciple making.

Let’s begin by seeing how Jesus began His disciple making process:

In Luke 6:12-13 we get a big glimpse into the beginning of Jesus’ disciple making process.  THIS is the epitome of keeping the first things first!

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:

Prayer is the first of the first things.

Please note in the verses above that Jesus had many disciples.  Disciples are followers.  Apostles were  those sent out as messengers with delegated authority.  Keep in mind that the goal of all disciple making efforts is that we produce disciple-making disciples.


It is critical to never forget the goal of disciple making is to make disciple-making disciples.


Jesus prayed all night long for the twelve disciples/apostles.  I don’t know about you, but I have never spent an entire night in prayer for anything.  I have however, prayed for those whom He would choose for me to disciple.  Most of the time I didn’t have a particular person in mind.  It was interesting to begin praying for that someone, or someones, without any prior knowledge of who they would be.

I have performed this process many times in my adult life and I know the seriousness involved in praying for those whom you will disciple.  These would-be disciples are not unknown to our Father, but they may be to us.  There is a divine sense of anticipation when a disciple maker prays for that someone, or someones, they will be discipling.  I know as I pray for whomever He pleases that my life will be impacted as much, if not more, than those I would be discipling.  I knew I would be making disciples, but more than this, I knew I would be exquisitely gifted with forever friends and fellow soldiers in Christ’s army.  We will spend a minimum of eighteen months together, if not longer.  We wouldn’t just meet for discipleship training, we would socialize together, fellowship together, worship together, etc.  Disciple Making is wrapping our life around the lives of those we disciple, not merely one time per week, but truly knowing one another and doing life together.

So PRAY and ask the Lord to bring someone, or a couple of someones, into your path and invite them to join you in discipleship training.  The journey you embark on together will be the best thing you will ever do for yourself, your disciples, and for His kingdom.


A few qualifications for screening discipleship candidates:

  1. Do they have a hunger and thirst for His righteousness?
  2. Do they understand the commitment they are making?  Time:  study time, memorizing scripture, Bible reading, etc.
  3. Are they willing to make the commitment?

While this list may seem limited, they are the starting point.  Lay out the time commitment up front.  We live in a very hurried culture, so make certain they understand that discipleship training will be their highest priority for the next – however long you determine.  If you use discipleship curriculum, you will know how long the commitment will be.

Happy disciple making, brothers and sisters!  May He richly bless the desire of your heart to make disciples for His kingdom.

warren-wiersbe-saved-v-discipleship-quote-02112016

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Journaling

The disciplines of the faith are not meant to be dogmatic or legalistic; they are simply a testament of our faithfulness and devotion to the Lord.

Journaling will undoubtedly be more random than some of the other disciplines of the faith such as bible reading and prayer because the pressures on our time are relentless. However, some do and will journal daily.

I can testify to the validity and veracity of journaling. I do not journal daily, but I have in the past.

Four compelling reasons to journal:

Journaling facilitates encountering God

Journaling is a written testimony of the work the Lord is doing in our lives. Journaling always follows bible reading and begins with a response to what you have read. We respond to whatever He has revealed to us in our reading for the day. It may be a few verses, a phrase, or a powerful conviction that spoke to you. Respond to it by pouring your heart out to Him.

Journaling gives us freedom to be who we are

Journaling is where we can be as honest and raw as we want. It is a place to lay out the secret grudges, fears, and pain that we are bearing. He is a very big God who can handle it all and wash it clean. He will give us His perspective when we submit it to His lordship. We will find answers and a line of attack for dealing with the darkest parts of our soul.

Journaling is a healing conversation with God

Journaling is a place of receiving. We spill our fears, concerns, and burdens which we might never share with another human being and find healing in the release.

Journaling creates stones of remembrance

Stones of remembrance are seen throughout the Old Testament. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan to take the land God promised to them, they set up stones of remembrance that they could return to and remember the mighty work of God on their behalf.

Your journal is something you can go back to from time to time and witness the growth and transformation that has taken place.

Those fears, burdens, confessions, etc. will seem trivial in light of the work He has wrought in the process of journaling and prayer. You will recall where you were at the time and how you were feeling and know the spilling of it on paper – to the Lord – marked a moment of healing, cleansing and transformational growth.


Examples of Journaling

I found a few images of art journaling, prayer journaling, and bible journaling which I thought might prompt some creativity in your journaling. Not all of us are artists, but as I look at these images I see the amount of time that was put into them – time that was invested in glorifying the Lord and impacting the journalist’s soul.

 

 

creative-journal-1
from Anita at https://aseknc.blogspot.com

 

art-journaling-1-kimberly-shan
https://kimberlyshaw.typepad.com

 

prayer-journal-image
Prayer Journal from Daniella Dickens on Pinterest

 

how-to-journal-in-your-bible
From Tumbler – author unknown – Bible Journaling

 

Follow Disciple Makers on Facebook!

 

Enjoy journaling for the glory of the Lord and the cleansing of your soul and spirit!

Let us know if this article was helpful to you.

Learning

A disciple is a learner.

Make certain the person you are discipling has a hunger for learning or you will be wasting your time. This may sound like a harsh statement, but it is true.

A teacher teaches, but it is incumbent upon the learner to learn. There must be a hunger and thirst for God AND His Word in order for a learner to learn.

Learning the disciplines of the faith is tedious toil. It is only achieved and perfected by those who are willing to commit themselves wholly to the Lord.

Pray for them. Pray the Proverbs for them. For example:

  • Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
    Father, I pray you grant a healthy fear of You to (name of disciple). Let (him/her) not despise the wisdom and discipline set forth for (him/her) in the process of discipleship training.
  • Proverbs 4:7 – Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
    Father, I pray you will give (name of disciple) a panting hunger for your wisdom; give (him/her) a sacrificial hunger to acquire understanding from Your Word.
  • Proverbs 10:8 – The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.
    Lord, I pray you give (name of disciple) a wise heart that will accept your commands. Give (him/her) ears to hear and eyes to see the truth you have for (him/her).

Jesus trained twelve men during His three years of ministry. There were multitudes that followed Him, but He selected only twelve motley men in which to invest Himself. There were three disciples (Peter, James and John) who were privy to more than the other nine; they witnessed the transfiguration of Christ and they were invited to keep watch as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His arrest.

One of the key elements of discipleship is an eagerness to learn and grow spiritually.

The multitude was looking for easy answers, miracles, and a feel-good message; anything that would alleviate their present condition. The multitude wasn’t interested in self-sacrifice and demanding training. Their only concern was for temporal relief, not eternal salvation and wholehearted dedication to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Choose whom you will disciple with colossal wisdom and discernment.

Test their commitment if you are hesitant.

I read a story about a fruitful disciple maker who had a young man pestering him for discipleship training. The young man even moved into an apartment overlooking the house where the prolific disciple maker lived. As the young man continued to ask what he needed to do to be discipled, the disciple maker told him to keep the snow off his driveway and then he would consider further. The prolific disciple maker never had a speck of snow remain on his driveway that entire winter. He knew the young man was earnest and eager to learn by his diligence in keeping the snow off his driveway.

Here are a few things to look for in a potential disciple:

  1. Is he/she eager to learn?
  2. Is he/she reliable? Will he/she commit to daily and/or weekly time with you.
  3. Is he/she available to meet with you and put in the effort (homework, daily bible reading, scripture memorization and journaling) required?
  4. Is he/she faithful?

Or, as a friend of mine examines prospective disciples, she uses this acronym:

qualification-of-discipleship-raft


Teach Them How to Study and Learn

Let me preface this section with a simple prayer I use when I open God’s Word. It goes like this: “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.”

This simple prayer sets my heart and mind in a state of listening. My mind tends to wander a bit when I’m reading, so this prayer helps me focus my mind and heart upon hearing what He has to say to me.

Inductive Study Method

I was instructed by my disciple maker to NOT purchase a study bible. She told me it would cause me to become too dependent on another man or woman’s opinion or thought – I needed to learn to study it, interpret it, and apply it for myself. She wanted me to be a Berean (Acts 17:11); one who receives the message with eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Since I was an eager learner, I grabbed hold of her instruction and education. The final phase of our discipleship curriculum was to study the book of 1 Thessalonians inductively. My disciple maker used The Navigators’ “Design for Discipleship” series that is still in print today. The seventh, and final, book in that series teaches inductive study methods. It was my first introduction into inductive study methods. Since then I joined in Precept Ministries Bible Studies and eventually went through their training to become an instructor. Needless to say, I am a huge fan of the inductive study method.

The inductive study method was first described to me with an analogy of learning the anatomy of a frog. I could either read about what someone else had written about the anatomy of a frog or I could dissect a frog and learn the anatomy – hands on!

I urge you to teach inductive study methods to educate disciples and you will witness Proverbs 9:9 come to life. “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”


Experiential Learning

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Although much less rigid and structured than the inductive study method, experiential learning is accomplished with a Bible Reading Plan.

Bible Reading Plans are readily available online or in your local book store.

I would highly recommend advising a new disciple to read one book of the Bible at a time. The stories are congruent and compelling.

Experiential learning occurs by the power of the Holy Spirit in the following areas:

  • Teaching – The Holy Spirit teaches us what is right.
  • Rebuking – The Holy Spirit teaches us what is not right.
  • Correcting – The Holy Spirit teaches us how to get right.
  • Training in Righteousness – The Holy Spirit teaches us how to stay right.[1]

How are you doing in the Learning discipline of the faith?

Remember, those you disciple will model your lifestyle and practices more than they will your teaching.

In the comments section below, let us know what methods you prefer for teaching disciples to be lifelong learners.

 

[1] Wiersbe, W.W., & Wiersbe, D. 1986. The elements of preaching: The art of biblical preaching clearly and simply presented.  Tyndale House Publishers: Wheaton, IL.

3 Requirements of Dicipleship

We know we are commanded to go and make disciples from Matthew 28:18-20, but do we know that there are requirements of discipleship?

Let us consider the requirements Jesus laid out to his disciples and the multitude in Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23.

Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.[1]

There are three demands made by Christ that qualify what discipleship is and what it costs.  Yes, there is a great cost to discipleship.

Jesus prefaced the three requirements of discipleship by saying, “If anyone would come after me…”  This literally means “If anyone desires following me these are the requirements.”

#1  Deny himself

It means to reject self, disapprove of self, to make self void, null, and stand firm against self.

Discipleship costs our very life.

All the dreams, the pursuits, the striving after our own glory must die.  We must bury the old man to make room for the new.

Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest (January 16), “Have you had your “white funeral,” or are you piously deceiving your own soul? Has there been a point in your life which you now mark as your last day? Is there a place in your life to which you go back in memory with humility and overwhelming gratitude, so that you can honestly proclaim, “Yes, it was then, at my ‘white funeral,’ that I made an agreement with God.”

Can you say with the Apostle Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

Every disciple of Christ must have a last day to self or they are not a follower of Christ at all.  They may have given intellectual ascent to Him, but they are not following Him.  Jesus demands that we deny our self – a once-for-all-time and continuing decision.  It costs a lot to give up the self, but the life that replaces it is eternal.  When we come to our last day, we will know without question when that day occurred.

If you are a disciple maker, make sure the one you disciple has experienced his or her last day.  If they haven’t, they will not mature or bear fruit.

Speaking from personal experience, I know my self was laid in the grave when I made the decision to follow Christ. I also know from experience that I have had to stuff my self back into the coffin on innumerable occasions since. This denying of the self is an ongoing act of obedience.

#2 Take up his cross

The act of taking up our cross is to daily accept that we have been crucified with Christ.  It is another form of self denial and yet it is an active acknowledgement that we will find ourselves at odds with the world we have denied. We will be misunderstood and jeered by those who are of the world.  In America we do not see beatings, imprisonment and death as Christ followers, but it does not mean that day may not be on the horizon.

Alistair Begg described cross-bearing as, “Walking in one way and not coming back. It is a one-way journey with no possibility of return. You are not your own and this is the defining mark of a true Christian.”

It is accepting that the world we left behind will not know us because they do not know Him.  The follower of Christ swears allegiance to Jesus and as a result we may suffer marks in our bodies and even death, but one thing the world cannot take from us is the eternal life we have in Jesus.

The follower (disciple) of Christ is equipped to lose his life for Jesus’ sake because he has laid his life in the gracious nail-pierced hands that purchased his eternal soul.

Are you willing to lose your life for Christ’s sake?

This is a weighty question all disciples are required to answer in the affirmative if they desire to follow Christ because Jesus says in Luke 14:27, “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

All cross bearers experience a miraculous transformation either at conversion or sometime later in their walk with Christ.  It is a decisive moment of complete surrender of the self when the cross bearer picks up the cross of Christ and never looks back.

A Man of the Cross AW Tozer quote

#3 Follow Christ

Judas is the prime example of how far one can go with Jesus.  For all intentions, he looked like a disciple of Christ, he probably talked like a disciple of Christ, but his end revealed his true disposition.

Following Christ is a disposition of undivided devotion.  Your family, your friends, your work, your interests – all is nothing compared to Christ.

The High Cost of Discipleship

In The Navigators’ Design for Discipleship series, there is a question:  “Are all Christians disciples?”  In the 22 years I used the Design for Discipleship series to train disciples, this question never failed to puzzle.  The usual answer to the question was, “Who are we to judge who is a disciple and who isn’t?”

Our politically correct culture has cast a shadow over truth. However, Jesus isn’t concerned with our political correctness any more than He was concerned with political correctness in His days on earth.

Discipleship is costly.  It will cost your very life.


Has Jesus got all there is of you?

Has he got a fully surrendered life?

 

A perfect song of personal worship is “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.”

[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Mk 8:34-35). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

But..But..But!

What Are Your Objections to Disciple Making?

What keeps you from entering into discipleship relationships?

Are you objecting to His command to “go make disciples” in Matthew 28:18-20?

Let me share a personal story of my greatest objection to something the Lord asked me to do.

When I was a brand new baby believer in Christ, our daughter was barely two years old. My disciple maker talked with me about homeschooling. I listened to her case for homeschooling with outward respect, but internal skepticism.

Firstly – I had never heard of homeschooling. Secondly, I was not a certified teacher. Thirdly, as a baby believer, did not assume I was capable of teaching my child – that is what public schools are for. Therefore, when my daughter came to school age, I sent her off to public school.

However, the appeal to homeschool remained in the back of my mind.

Have you ever noticed when God is calling you to do something for Him, it (or He) never leaves you alone? The thing He is asking of you never leaves your thoughts! Continue Reading

5 Aspects of Prayer for Disciples

A Resource for Disciple Makers – The Prayer Hand Illustration

I am a super fan of The Navigators ministry in disciple making.

Prayer is a distinctive discipline of the Christian faith.  In my experience it is one of the more difficult disciplines to learn and practice.

I remember when I was in discipleship training and being asked to pray out loud for the first time.  It was horrendously intimidating, but it was an enormously important first step in learning to pray for and with others.

Take a look at this simple and effective tool for learning to pray from The Navigators.

I have added my own insights in blue on each digit description below.

the-prayer-hand-illustration-the-navigators-70

In order to discipline ourselves to spend longer periods of time talking to the Lord in prayer, this hand illustration helps us with five crucial aspects of prayer that we need to cover in order to pray a powerful and effective prayer that avails much!

The thumb represents praise — I let my enjoyment and adoration of God overflow into words.

 
“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” 

Psalm 146:1-2

The thumb is the only digit on our hand that is able to touch all the other digits, therefore praise will be incorporated into all other aspects of prayer. 
When we give thanks, praise is there.  When we intercede for others, praise is there.  When we make petitions, praise is there.  When we confess our sin, praise is there.

I encourage disciples to pray the scripture back to the Lord.  Encourage your disciples to read scripture and discover how David, Isaiah, Paul, and many more, praise the Lord.  The Lord delights in hearing us pray His Word back to Him!

 

The index finger represents thanksgiving — I thank God for what He has done in, through, and for me. I also thank Him for His answers to prayers in the lives of those around me and for His ongoing work across the nation and the world.

“…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Ephesians 5:20

The index finger is the pointer.
Thanksgiving points us to what the Lord has done and is actively doing.  This aspect of prayer requires concentrated attention to seeing and hearing what the Lord is doing in my life and the lives of others.  Keep pointing upward with thanksgiving because all that we are and will be is a result of His sovereign reign over the affairs of men.

The middle finger represents intercession — I ask God to provide for the needs of others.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…” 

Ephesians 6:18-19

The middle finger is the longest digit on our hand.
Some people have the gift of intercession but all of us are to pray for others.  I thank the Lord for intercessors.  Once upon a time I prayed with a woman who has the gift of intercession before beginning a weekend retreat.  We were literally on our knees praying for each person attending.  We were still on our knees when we heard the guests arriving.  We both looked at one another and realized we had been on our knees in intercession for two full hours.  Message here is to spend the longest amount of your prayer time in intercession for others.

The ring finger represents petition — I ask God to provide for my needs.

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.” 

1 Samuel 1:27

The ring finger is the weakest finger on our hand.
When I worked for a cosmetics company, I learned that the ring finger has the lightest touch and is therefore the finger to apply cosmetics to the delicate skin surrounding our eyes.  Little did I know then how this bit of info would translate to my spiritual life.
Since prayers of petition are for my needs, I believe this aspect of prayer should be practiced with a hefty dose of humility and contentment.  As I have matured in the faith and aged in years, my needs have dwindled.  Allow your needs to shrink in comparison to all other aspects of prayer.

 

The little finger represents confession  — I agree with God about my sin.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 

1 John 1:9

 

The little finger is the shortest of our digits.


In keeping with the rule of selflessness let your prayers of confession be concise and honest.  Do not ignore confession because it cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  I once had a person in discipleship training who shared that she had no sins to confess.  Confession involves seeing ourselves as the Lord sees us.  Sins are not just actions, they are thoughts and attitudes.  Teach your disciples to see themselves as sinners in need of cleansing or they will never mature.

Notice that the thumb, index finger and middle finger focus on God and others.  This is a great reminder that we are to be more focused on others in our prayer time. We are his children and He is elated to hear our voices in prayer – pray out loud more often than not.

Teach your disciples to pray out loud.  It is a challenging discipline to learn, but one that will make an eternal difference in their growing relationship with the Lord.

Organic Mentoring

A book resource for disciple makers

Today, I listened to Family Life Today and found a resource that might be helpful to those of you who disciple younger women.
The radio broadcast features Barbara Neuman and Dr. Sue Edwards from Dallas Theological Seminary talking about a book they have written titled, Organic Mentoring.

Barbara Neumann and Dr. Sue Edwards write from their experiences of discipling younger women. They come alongside young women and build them up in the faith. In the context of Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Edwards and Barbara Neumann are in a setting where young women are in abundance and seeking guidance.

The points shared by Barbara Neumann and Dr. Sue Edwards are far less disciplined and structured than the disciple making I have been accustomed to in the past. Proving there are infinite processes that are effective. The points made in this broadcast are designed to meet the needs of the 20-something generation who are somewhat averse to having specific times, dates and processes in their lives.

Personally, I believe discipline is integral to disciple making. How does one become a disciple of Christ without the disciplines of the faith taught in the Bible? Timothy was a disciple of the apostle Paul. Paul spoke and wrote to Timothy on many occasions about discipline.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
What sort of disciples are you creating if there is no discipline involved in the process? I know this makes me sound very old school, but isn’t this a valid question to be asked?

Fellow PatientI adore the C.S. Lewis quote to the right. If a disciple maker has one most important thing to know, this quote says it all. We are all patients in the hands of God. Those who have been walking with Him longer possess the keys that will unlock the mysteries of the faith to new arrivals.

A few great points from this broadcast are:
• 80% of younger women drop out of mentoring programs within three months. They say, “This isn’t working for me.” Due to the structure of a program, it is awkward. The relationship feels forced.
• What needs to change in order to have real influence and impact?
• Teach the younger generation to make godly decisions.

 

I don’t know how long this radio broadcast will remain on the archive pages of Family Life today so please let me know when this link to the broadcast no longer works: “Organic Mentoring

Here is a PDF file of the program transcript as well. Organic Mentoring

My Disciple Maker Story

My Disciple Maker Story
By Melissa Schuerer

Before I Knew Christ

Let me set the stage with a white, middle-class, agricultural environment where everyone I knew celebrated the Christian holidays of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Add a healthy education in American Christian culture of the 20th Century and you have a real life Norman Rockwell existence.

I grew up in a Christian culture, but not a Christian home. My parents never attended church, but they took me and my siblings to Sunday school until we were in junior high.

My third grade public school teacher taught the entire class to memorize and recite The Lord’s Prayer before we went to lunch. I knew the Christmas story of Christ’s birth, the Easter story of His resurrection, Adam and Eve, and Jonah and the whale. This was the extent of my Christian education as a child and young adult.

My growing up was lived mostly in the 1960s where the hippy movement was toppling the Christian culture in America with a message of free love. It was basically a do-as-you-please counter culture that was frightening to me as a young adolescent due to the strict rules of conduct I had been raised under, but a little intriguing as well. It was during these years that I made a choice to not give any mind to Jesus or God. However, I secretly admired my peers who were raised in church by church-going families – they were much more settled than I. Continue Reading