I remember it well. It was sometime in the fall of 1991. I was at the church I grew up in. I was really upping my game in church life. It’s too bad that I wouldn’t realize for a couple of more years that I needed more than just church in my life.
I was sitting there minding my own business listening to the prayer requests and the people who prayed for each item. That’s when I heard something I had never heard before.
“Larry Carter, will you pray for ______?”
I sat there stunned for a moment. Had the pastor really called my name? Was there time for me to slip out the door while every head was bowed and every eye closed? Would I spontaneously combust during my prayer?
I managed to croak out a prayer and obviously I am still alive. But this and other circumstances like it have always made me wonder something.
Why aren’t we taught to pray?
Jesus’ disciples found him praying in a certain place. I think this means that Jesus had a regular, planned spot where he prayed. After he finished, someone asked Him, “Lord teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”`
Think about what just happened. The disciples seemed to be watching Jesus pray. When he was done, they asked to be taught to do it like John’s disciples had been. Evidently, John the Baptist taught his followers how to pray. This was known publicly. Perhaps this particular disciple of Jesus had been one of John’s disciples and had firsthand knowledge of what John had done. So, they wanted to learn how to pray like Jesus. If John’s praying had been like Jesus’, then this would have been unnecessary. But Jesus’ praying was different. It was on another level compared to John’s.
What did Jesus do? He told them how to go about praying. He said when you pray do it like this.
It seems, though, that we are expected to just know how to pray or figure out how to do it on our own.
I remember as a kid watching my dad change the brakes on a car. He told me to watch while he did it. When it came time later to change the brakes on my own car, I didn’t know what to do. I had never done it. I had watched it be done, but I stared at the brakes not really understanding how to handle it.
Jesus basically said, “Here is how I pray. Now do it.” He threw his followers in right away. He taught them how to pray and then said when you pray, do it my way.
That’s the way a good teacher does it. They show you how to do it while you watch. Then they watch you do it while they watch. Finally, they let you do it on your own. Essentially, that’s what Jesus is doing. He is giving the disciples on the job training on the subject of prayer.
Do you know how to pray? I don’t mean do you know how to say words in front of a crowd and call it prayer. Have you learned how to pray? If not, I would suggest a few things.
1. Begin praying.
2. Seek someone who you think is a prayer warrior and ask them to pray with you.
3. Pray some more.
4. Pray about your praying.
5. Pray some more.
In other words, you won’t ever know how to pray unless you actually get down to the business of praying.
Do you know how to pray?
What filter do you look at the world through?
I used to view the world through something bad that happened to me when I was about 12 years old. I let that event color every other event, every job and every relationship I had.
Everyone does this. They look at the world through their own experience.
Someone may look at the world through the loss of a parent at a young age.
Another may look at it through the divorce they went through.
Someone else may look at the world through their sexual identity. There are no limits to what type of filter someone will use.
Jesus’ disciples did the same thing.
One viewed the world through being a tax collector.
Others saw the world as fishermen.
Others looked at the world as zealots looking for revolution.
Many of them looked at the world as Galileans.
Regardless, they looked at the world through their filter. They saw everything in a unique way.
Then they met Jesus. He chose them. They followed.
He looked at the world through a different filter.
Jesus looked at the world through the filter of His Father.
He looked at a world that needed love. A world that needed a love that could only be shown in death. A love that defeated death and sin. A love so powerful that the grave couldn’t hold it.
And they began to look at the world through Jesus. They began to see the world His way, through His life, and His truth.
Jesus became their filter.
Their world never looked the same.
What filter are you looking at the world through?
Recently I read how a church had a huge number of decisions made over a certain weekend. It seems that there was a lot of praising to the Lord over this. I held back a little. I think a little differently. Maybe a lot. This is what I was thinking.
I wonder how many disciples were made among those decisions?
The Great Commission tells us to make disciples. We are to do this by going, baptizing and teaching.
Jesus says nothing about going out making decisions.
I know that people will say that you can’t have a disciple without first having a decision. I understand that.
I just wonder how many of those decisions will result in people who are really disciples? How many made a decision to buy fire insurance and not a lifestyle of following Jesus? How many of those decisions really changed their lives?
What I’m saying is that anyone can make a decision to come to Christ. Fewer are really made into disciples.
I would rather have a much smaller number of people who have been made disciples than a large number of people who made decisions.
I didn’t voice this to down those who were excited over the decisions. I don’t want to be a killjoy. I have to wonder, though. How many of those decisions will result in true disciples? Most of us will never know.
Are you making disciples? Or are you making decisions?
I do not want to go to Africa. Never have. Don’t ever expect to. My daughter’s boyfriend is going to India on a mission trip this summer and he is pumped up about it. He wants to go and feels the Lord leading him to do it.
Sometimes we act as though we have to go to Africa, India, Haiti or some other exotic, foreign land to serve the Lord What do we do when we don’t want to go to some international destination to serve Him?
He Gives Us The Picture As Needed
When Jesus called His disciples, he simply said, “Follow Me”. He did not tell them that he would send them out on a mission in teams of two. The closest he came was saying that he would make them fishers of men.
This is not much different from the Old Testament. The Lord did not give Abraham all of the details at once. Neither did He with Moses, David or much of anyone else. He told them what they needed to know at the right time.
You want to serve the Lord, but think that may involve Africa? It may. Or it may not.
He Gives Us The Tools We Need
The Lord told the disciples to take a few things with them. A tunic. A pair of sandals. A walking stick. Why? He wanted them to depend on God for their needs.
David faced Goliath with a slingshot.
Israel waited each day for manna for that day.
God simply wants us to depend on Him for what we need.
He Prepares Us His Ministry
The disciples went out and preached that men should repent. They cast out demons. They healed the sick.
They couldn’t do that before they followed Christ. He taught them how to “do ministry”. He gave them the power to cast out demons and heal. They were prepared by Christ for ministry.
David was a teenager when he was anointed king. It was years before he actually ascended to the throne.
It took Noah about one hundred years to build the ark.
Paul spent about fourteen years between meeting Christ on the Damascus Road and becoming a super apostle.
The bottom line is that if God calls you to go to Africa, He will place a desire to follow Him there. He will give you the tools you need for the ministry. He will prepare you to go. Then you can go to Africa. Or India. Or wherever He wants you to go.
Have you ever been afraid of what the Lord was calling you to do? Do you think you could never do what He wants you to do?
I heard someone recently refer to God as a gentleman. This sounds like a wonderfully plausible statement, doesn’t it? The idea is that God is a gentleman who will not force Himself upon anyone. This person was trying to convey what he thought was a beautiful picture of God.
However, is it biblical and accurate?
Did God sit back and let Noah think about whether he wanted to build the ark?
Did He tell Abraham that if he felt like it he could move to the land He would give him?
He wrestled with Jacob.
He showed up in a burning bush to Moses and when Israel didn’t obey He wiped several of them out.
I know, though, you have some objections. You want to say Jesus wasn’t like that.
Jesus told his disciples to follow Him.
He told one man to sell everything he had, give it to the poor and follow Him.
He called the Pharisees hypocrites and snakes.
Jesus told Zaccheus to come down out of a tree because He was going to eat with him. He invited Himself to dinner.
Let’s fast forward.
He struck Paul blind and sent Ananias a message that he was a chosen instrument of His to go to the Gentiles.
Simply put, I don’t think that God is a gentleman.
I think God is God.
He does things His way. Who are we to argue with it?
What do you think? Is God a gentleman? Or is He simply God?
It’s Twitterific Thursday where I write about a subject in 140 words, more or less.
That’s all you need.
That’s all you need to drive and motivate you.
For the Lord your God.
For your neighbor.
For your enemy.
For the world to know you are His disciples
For husbands to do toward their wives as Christ does for the Church.
That dominates our songs.
That dominates our books.
The Beatles said it was all you need.