Discipleship is crucial to the life of the Church/Christianity. But crucial to discipleship is a culture of prayer. I do believe that being a “house of prayer [for all nations]” is an underlying identity of the Church. My experience with the (primarily) program driven church in the U.S. is that true discipleship is rare. I mean we have Bible studies, small groups, and meetings, but intentionally coming together for learning how to do Jesus-stuff is often not done. I’ve even experienced outreach efforts without intercession for those who are intended to be reached. Now, my goal isn’t to complain. My goal is to point out, encourage, maybe even confess 🙂 We must abandon to Christ if we want to experience all He has for us individually, with one-another, and those not (or some, not yet) in the family of Faith.
I am so blessed that the Lord stoops low, so low in His love, that He chooses us, redeems us, calls to us, and beyond every interaction that we have recorded (or may hope to record), He goes even further to reveal that He is “Father” above all else. Not judge, not cosmic teddy bear, not transcedental buddy-o-pal, but our intimate Father.
“Thy Kingdom Come”
“Jesus, ‘Thy Kingdom Come,’ not mine. And in a world where Your Kingdom has only partly come, let it draw closer today. Let it draw closer than ever. Open my eyes to see You reveal it. I want to partner with Your heart. Rabbi, teach me. Father, let Your holiness invade this world through little ol’ me, and Holy Spirit purify, counsel, and lead me – not where I go naturally, but where You would take me.”
“Give us this day our daily bread”
“Father, please provide. Give me eyes to see the difference between my wants and my needs. And please give me a posture of giving.”
“…and forgive us…as we forgive…”
Contemplative and social-activist Thomas Merton wrote:
“Remembering that I have been a sinner, I will love You in spite of what I have been, knowing that my love is precious because it is Yours, rather than my own. Precious to You because it comes from Your own Son, but precious even more because it makes me Your son.”
I have witnessed (and been a part of) religion that seems to be founded on guilt and shame. Unless the identity of a loving, kind, completely just, and completely merciful Father is the foundation of our belief, then getting to the part about sin is frightening. Unless that foundation is set, confession will be primarily fear based, and reconciliation may not genuinely happen. There are calls to repentance and there are absolutions, but even after forgiveness may be declared, shame can remain. I’m started to pray freedom in this portion of the Lord’s Prayer. “Lord, forgive me where I’ve fallen, and free my heart to forgive others.”
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (vs. 15-20).