THE MAIN POINT
Following Jesus is expressed inwardly, outwardly, and corporately. To be a healthy disciple we first need to know what healthy inward faith looks like: meditation, prayer, fasting, and study.
Matthew 6: 5-13 (CSB), John 10:27 (CSB), Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message
“Following Jesus requires discipline. It requires putting Jesus in the driver’s seat of our life and allowing him to lead. In his book, ‘Celebration of Discipline’, Richard Foster describes three categories of disciplines that when practised, help us follow Jesus and bring personal transformation. The disciplines are:
INWARD – meditation, prayer, fasting, study
OUTWARD – simplicity, solitude, submission, service
CORPORATE – confession, worship, guidance, and celebration
Meditation: “Spending time listening and reflecting on God’s word & practising God’s deeds.”
Prayer: “The most central discipline because it ushers us into perpetual communion with God.”
Fasting: “Abstaining from food (and other things) for spiritual purposes.”
Study: “Specific experience in which careful attention is given to enable the mind to move in a certain direction.”
Simplicity: “An inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle. Simplicity moves us to freedom from possessions, status and legalism.”
Solitude: “The practise of being called from loneliness and being present with Jesus.”
Submission: “Laying down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way. The cross is the perfect sign of submission.”
Service: “As the cross is the sign of submission, so the towel is the sign of service. Greatness is defined by our heart for true service.”
Confession: “At the heart of God is the desire to give and to forgive. Confession is expressing our sin and failure to God and others in the process of forgiveness.”
Worship: “To open our heart to the love of God and to devote our will to the purpose of God.”
Guidance: “Being led by God through the Holy Spirit, Scripture, Reason and Circumstances.”
Celebration: ” Celebration brings joy into life and joy makes us strong. Celebration is at the heart of the way of Christ.”
In today’s curriculum, we are focusing on the INWARD disciplines especially highlighting PRAYER.
Following Jesus doesn’t simply mean knowing about him or doing things now and again to please him. Being a follower of Jesus literally means apprenticing under Jesus. Living lives where Jesus is in the driver’s seat. And our everyday lives start to look radically different. In the gospels, being an apprentice of Jesus would have literally meant, eating when he ate, going where he went, listening constantly to him, and being with him 24/7 so that you could become like him.
Jesus did many incredible things but we only ever see the disciples asking Jesus specifically to teach them one thing, and that was how to pray. They realized that everything Jesus did came from prayer, and that prayer fuelled every decision, miracle, and word spoken by Jesus. When asked how to pray Jesus responds with a very simple yet profound prayer found in both Matthew 6 & Luke 11. Prayer is one of the most central disciplines because it ushers us into continual communion with God. It is the place where we speak, listen, share our hearts and hear his heart. 99% of prayer is often just showing up: making the effort to become consciously present to the God who is constantly present to us.
The prayer that Jesus teaches is known as the Lord’s Prayer and gives us either words to speak when we don’t know what to say, or gives us a model in which to frame and shape our prayer-life so that God is honoured and we are renewed. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us that we have been called into the family of God, set apart for the specific purposes of God which have eternal impacts, as He meets our daily needs, makes us new, and as He guards our hearts and minds.
“A mere fifty-seven words in the original Greek, the Lord’s Prayer gathers up all of life and brings it before God.” Darrell W. Johnson.
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” Mother Teresa.
“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.”
“True prayer is a way of life, not just for use in cases of emergency. Make it a habit, and when the need arises you will be in practice.” Billy Graham
As you prepare the core of the message using personal stories and questions keep in mind these points:
- Your personal relationship with Jesus matters.
- What you do inwardly will show itself outwardly.
- Being an apprentice of Jesus means doing the things Jesus did, the most common discipline Jesus did was pray.
As you prepare the application, challenge and/or encouragement, keep in mind these points:
- Consider leading the “safe place prayer.”
- Re-read the lord’s prayer each day this week, taking a line per day, asking God to highlight its impacts on your life.
- Write down one friend that you are going to pray for every day.
SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS / FOR THE QUESTIONS
- Hearing the 12 disciplines: Which feel most natural to you? Which feel like you would have to be disciplined to do them?
- The disciples only ever asked Jesus to model prayer to them. If Jesus was sitting in your group right now, and you only had one request, what would you ask him to teach you?
- Prayer seems to matter greatly to Jesus. What does prayer mean to you and how have you seen prayer change your life or someone else’s life you know?
- Take time to pray.