Psalm 1 describes it as life giving source, and in and through it we are firmly planted. Psalm 119.1 says “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD”. The Word incarnate is described in John 1 as Jesus. He is described in other places as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. This perfect Son of God has, from before the Fall, had a purpose and a plan. An incredible part of that plan was the provision of His Word, the Bible. In it we see amazing stories of creation, of provision, of sin and redemption (or destruction), culminating in the reconciling work of Jesus Christ over two-thousand years ago. This life and work was recorded for us by men led on by God (2 Peter 1.19-21), and we now are taught by it’s truths, and given assurance of what we hope for, of what we believe in, and of who He has made us to be in Him (Psalm 31.24; Lamentations 3.18; Romans 5, 8, 15.13; Ephesians 2.5; Hebrews 11.1).
We are told in the New Testament to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18), and that looks overwhelming at first glance. Our worlds are filled with tasks, errands, responsibilities and the like, and finding time to pray is difficult. 2 Samuel 21 & 24 talk about how the LORD was moved by prayer for the land. That itself is an amazing and mysterious thing to read, and testifies to us the power of prayer. We learn later in 1 Chronicles 5.20 that He intercedes “because they trusted in Him.” And that really is key prayer is often used by believers as a means of independence from God if God will make this roadblock disappear, or provide a open way to our hopes and dreams, then we would be happy. But in what? In Him or in the open way? The end becomes the proverbial idol, not our desire to worship and trust in Him for all our needs (Matt. 6). To put our needs and the needs of others (both near and far) is a tremendously humbling act we are not only saying that we trust Him for our good, but also whatever else might come as we live this life. Prayer is not a means of creating independence, but rather dependence on Him for everything (Psalm 5.3, 6.9, 69.13, 109.4; Daniel 9.3; Acts 6.4; Romans 12.12; Colossians 4.2)
Prayer is our lifeline to God (Ps. 65.2, 86.6, 88.2) it allows us to confess to Him (Ezra 9.5), cast our cares upon Him (Ps 71; Philippians 4.6), cry out to Him when we are afraid (Ps 120, 140; Is 64.1), to intercede on one another’s behalf (Nehemiah 1.6; Ephesians 6.18; 1 Timothy 2.1), to praise His name (Ps. 66, 141.2; Acts 10.4; Revelation 5.8, 8.3-4) and receive help and direction in all our life’s work and needs (Nehemiah 1.11; Ps 26, 61; Matthew 21; Acts 2.42). He delights in our prayers (Proverbs 15.8) if we are seeking Him, but often our prayers can become hindered by our refusal to invest our lives in His Words and work (Proverbs 15.29, 28.9; Isaiah 1.15; 1 Peter 3.7). But if we turn from dependence on our own ways, and trust in Him, He is faithful to hear our cause and requests (1 Peter 3.12). Paul is not telling us that we must spend every waking moment in prayer, rather that we must not forsake prayer as a foundational part of our lives, and the line between those two things is not as blurry as it seems. Finally, Jesus, the Son of God, modeled prayer as essential to life (Luke 6,11-22; John 17)
This is the call of Christ in the Great commission (Matthew 28.16-20). As God has reconciled us to Himself (Matt. 5; Romans 5; 2 Corinthians 5; Colossians 1), we are working out this salvation by His power (Philippians 2.11-13), and as a result, we respond and act both physically and spiritually. This is worship. An essential part of this worship is the teaching others what Christ is teaching us. This includes saved sinners (aka believers) and unsaved sinners (aka non-believers) alike. Our hope for the former is that they will in turn pour out their lives in Christ to others, and for the latter our hope is that they might “see our good works [done through the HS] and glorify His name” (Matt. 5.15-17), coming to the knowledge and acceptance of Him as their Lord and Savior (see below for more info). We worship God and desire that others come into a worshipping relationship with God.
Unbelievers - our desire, God-willing, with this group of people, both within and outside our local body, is to build relationships. These are often relationships that already exist, but maybe are not currently lived in context of who we are in Christ. We should be discipling them before they even know Him, pouring out of lives and who we are in Christ into their lives and homes. The hope in that? Simply to have them come to the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is no mean feat. We have very little ability (ok, honestly, none whatsoever) to make this happen. We must then pray that He would send workers in to the harvest, that He provides the seeds to plant the crops, the tools to break the soil, the water to bring them to life, and the barns for the crops to be gathered into. We must pray, we must trust, we must seek and learn, we must work, we must be ready in season and out of season to be used to bring the lost home.
Believers to Disciples/Disciplers -At first, this seems like a misnomer. Aren’t believers already “covered”? Yes, in a manner of speaking they are, but with one vital and essential piece missing discipleship. Believers without this mindset are not reproducing and growing vertically to be like Christ, they often are stagnating horizontally. They have weak roots, and are carried about by every whim and wave (Matthew 13.21; Mark 4.17; Luke 8.13; Ephesians 4.14). We must have a purpose of maturing believers so that they too can help in the process of maturing other believers (and often non-believers as well) so that they may be firm in their faith (see Psalm 1; Romans 4.20; 1 Corinthians 11.2, 16.3; 2 Corinthians 1.24; Galatians 5.1; Ephesians 6.11-14; Philippians 1.27, 4.1; Colossians 1.23, 2.7; Hebrews 3.14, 10.23). This should be a natural outpouring of our desire to be more like Christ, and at the same time see others do the same. This is a great privilege, but enormously hard. It requires that we cleanse ourselves to be used of God according to 2 Timothy. The fruit? That we might free those who have been held captive to do Satan’s will, and to see these lives redeemed and reconciled. Just as we were, and are, and will be till He takes us home.