The Element of Prayer
The fourth element I have listed for every disciple-maker is prayer, yet, this really should be where we start. Jesus always spent time with His Father through prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He only did what the Father told Him to do (John 5:19-20; 30).
Do we do this? Do we only do what the Father tells us to do? Or, do we do what we think we should do? Do we take time to find out what the Father wants?
Prayer is a must in every disciple-making friendship.
Every part of disciple-making is a result being with God in the Word and prayer.
To answer these questions and more, the disciple-maker must go to the Master through the Word and prayer. God always gives His children the ability and power to do what He commands by faith. He has commanded us to go make disciple-makers. If we are not in the Word (the Bible) and prayer (talking with God) disciple-making will not work! Period.
As we do this we have to remember only God causes the growth in a disciple’s life (1 Corinthians 3:7). We can plant seeds, we can water, but only God causes the growth. This is why prayer is so important.
So, how do we pray for our disciples?
In John 17 it shows how Jesus prayed for His disciples. Jesus prayed the will of God. Read Jesus’ prayer in John 17. In John 17:17 Jesus asks the Father, “Sanctify them (his disciples) in the truth; your word is truth.” We pray scripture over our disciples.
Here is an example of a disciple-makers prayer:
Pray this prayer for you and your disciple-making friendships everyday. This is God’s will. This will transform your disciple-making friendships. Embrace the power of prayer.
To follow through on this vital element of disciple-making it will require intentionality and time. Get a prayer journal. Write down your prayer. Write down the names of the people you are praying for daily. Make notes next to their names.
God will provide the growth. Watch Him work as you labor in prayer.
The Ministry of Presence
What power and security is given to us in Christ when Jesus says, “I will be with you always, to the end…” This gives me the chills just writing it. In a moment of need nothing is better than when a friend shows up (bonus with good coffee).
The third element in Jesus like disciple-making is what I call the ministry of presence. Jesus modeled this by becoming one of us. He came to earth through the virgin birth. He is fully God, yet fully man.
The writer of Hebrews says Jesus can sympathize with our weakness and in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. To be like Jesus in this area it will require you, as the disciple-maker, to have margin in your life to be with your disciple(s). This is where the disciple-maker pursues a relationship with the disciple just like Jesus came to us.
The ministry of presence is giving your most valuable resource: TIME. It is showing up when your disciple or one of their loved ones is sick. It is being at the birthday parties or other life events. It is making the phone call or sending the text. It is sending the encouraging card or supporting the mission trip. This is powerful. Use it.
My Dad is one of the greatest examples of this in my life. I remember him being at almost every event I had growing up. I remember the Friday family nights and the intentional breakfast and dinner conversations. We ate breakfast and dinner as a family at the same time Monday through Friday.
My Dad was there in my toughest times. He sat in the doctors office when I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Yes, he had scripture to encourage me and words of wisdom to teach me, yet, what I remember most is his presence.
When I became an adult it did not change. Every time I call him he picks up the phone or calls me right back. He returns text messages on a dime. He returns my emails within twenty-four hours. He is on the door step when I need him.
He is always pointing me to look to Jesus and get my needs met by Jesus, yet, there is power behind his words because of his presence, his actions. Don’t miss this point. There are many voices competing for space in a disciples life. The voice heard is the one close enough to be felt.
Who has modeled this for you?
How have you experienced the power of the ministry of presence?
Jesus is the ultimate example. His words are always backed by actions. He is always with His children. He will never leave them nor forsake them. Nothing can separate them from Him. Nothing.
Have you experienced the presence of Jesus? What is it like?
How has knowing Jesus is with you helped you?
Disciple-making has to point to the presence of Jesus. “Go make disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I (Jesus) have commanded you, and surly I (Jesus) will be with you until the very end of the age.”
Disciple-makers model after Jesus. We need to create space and margin in our lives to practice the ministry of presence. We need to be Worded up, prayed up and then show up. There is power in presence.
I like the principle, “Do for one what you cannot do for many.” We are not God and we are not omnipresent. We can only be in one place at a time. This requires us to say no to many good things to say yes to the best.
What are the names of the individuals who will get your ministry of presence?
Bonus material: The practice of presence applied to disciple-making.
Notice on the chart above, no matter what stage your disciple is at you are present, together. The best disciple-makers spend as much time with Jesus as possible and say, “Imitate my way of life as I imitate Jesus.” The apostle Paul said to live lives worthy of the gospel, a life worth imitating (Philippians 1:27, Ephesians 4:1, 1 Corinthians 11:1).
Are you living a life worth imitating? Do other people want to be like you?
A couple thoughts to remember:
Will you step out and be intentional with the opportunities around you?