By Wade Potts
In my last blog entry I said that the primary method of discipleship is teaching. This is the way John the Baptist, Jesus, and even Paul discipled new Christians. Teaching does not necessarily mean that we fill individuals with facts and doctrines but it also means that we disciple new believers and other Christians practically by showing them how to live out the faith.
I recently read an article by Ray Deck III entitled 3 Creative Ideas for Family Prayer. In this article he gives some examples for parents to teach their children to pray. However, and I think he would agree with this, these ideas could be used when discipling all believers. David Platt says this same thing in the Follow Me Bible Study. He encourages us to teach people through example how to pray, how to study the Bible, how to evangelize, and so on. Just about all new believers are uncomfortable about praying in public; yet, when we only tell them how to pray, these fears typically remain. When we show someone how we pray this can calm their fears because they can see what prayer looks like. It gives them a model to compare their personal prayers to. It is one thing to give instructions to individuals on how to pray, to provide principles for praying well, or even to take someone through the Survival Kit for New Christians and flesh out what it has to say about prayer. However, there is something very personal and very effective when one believer shows another believer how to pray. I understand that none of us pray perfectly, but neither did John the Baptist, and yet he taught his disciples how to pray (Luke 11:1).
In fact, Luke 11:1 gives us a beautiful picture of this type of discipleship. Jesus was praying in front of his disciples and this prompted the disciples to ask of him a very important request, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples” (HCSB). Not only did Jesus disciple through teaching but we see that John the Baptist did as well. If you consider the Lord’s Prayer itself, it provides the perfect model for the Christian’s prayer.
- We begin with the statement of God as our Father. Believers have been adopted into a new family – the family of God with God as our Father and Christ as our brother.
- Jesus then teaches believers they must transition from addressing God as Father into declaring praise or reverence of His name. God’s name perfectly reflects His character – which is holy.
- Then believers are taught to pray for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. We must be constantly about the business of praying for God’s church to grow so that our outreach is fueled by prayer.
- We are taught to pray for the completion of God’s will. Believers struggle with knowing God’s will for their lives, so Christ teaches us to pray for that will to be done.
- Christ teaches believers to express their dependence on God by praying that He will be gracious enough to meet their daily needs.
- Christ then instructs believers to ask for forgiveness. However, there is a catch. When we ask God for forgiveness we must do so only after we have forgiven those who have “wronged” us.
- Finally, we are instructed to pray for deliverance from temptation. For believers to win the war against sin they must first win the battle of temptation. This begins with prayer.
Jesus’ model prayer contains all of the elements a new believer ought to include in his or her prayer life. So I encourage you to go beyond giving simple instructions for prayer by showing those whom you disciple how to pray, and Jesus’ prayer makes the perfect model.