Commit to Prayer and the Word… and Then What?

When theologically conservative, Evangelical, American Christians and/or their churches realize that something needs to be done; you will generally hear them commit to doing two things…
 
…pray, and commit to studying/teaching the Word.
 
First, I would like to state that I agree with this strategy.
 
But, I would also like to point out that committing to prayer and studying the Word, in and of themselves, are not solutions.
 
They are simply God-given means to finding a solution.
 
For instance, say that your marriage is falling apart. You could say that in order to save your marriage, you were going to commit to prayer and Bible study…
 
…and then what?
 
Simply praying and studying your Bible will not save your marriage. Ultimately you must act upon what God reveals to you through prayer and Bible study in order to have a chance at saving your marriage (because, according to Jesus and Scripture, not every marriage will be saved; Matthew 19:9, 1 Corinthians 7:15-16).
 
Likewise, say that your church realizes that it is not reaching the lost people in your community, and so it commits to prayer and the Word…
 
…and then what?
 
Again, ultimately your church must act upon what God reveals to the members that which they must do in order to reach the lost people in your community.
 
Because, it is perfectly possible to commit to prayer and Bible study, and then not be willing to act upon that which God reveals to you through prayer and Bible study that you must do.
 
Again, a commitment to prayer and the Word are simply the God-given means to finding solutions to the serious issues that we face.
 
Another example is my favorite subject: being and making disciples of Jesus.
 
When confronted with the lack of being and making disciples of Jesus occurring within a church, the members of that church might become convicted and decide to commit themselves to prayer and to studying/teaching the Word…
 
…but then what?
 
When we commit ourselves to prayer and studying/teaching the Word because of a lack of discipleship within our churches; what we must in reality be committing ourselves to is for God to reveal a solution to the lack of being and making disciples occurring within our churches.
 
And then, if God reveals a solution, we must still be willing to act upon it.
 
Again, simply committing to prayer and Bible study are not in and of themselves a solution.
 
Because, it is perfectly possible to commit to prayer and studying your Bible in order to seek out a solution from God about the lack of discipleship within our churches, and for God to then reveal to you a solution…
 
…and then for you to not be willing to act upon it.
 
I personally have spent my entire life (45 years) in the theologically conservative, Evangelical, American church (and I have been saved for almost 40 of those years).
 
And therefore, my entire life I have been taught to be committed to prayer and the study of the Word…
 
…and for most of my life I have been.
 
But at some point (because of what I read in the Word), I began to realize that something was missing within the religious system that I grew up under.
 
When I realized this, I responded by doing what I had been taught to do; I continued to commit myself to prayer and Bible study in order to find a solution.
 
Over the course of time, God revealed to me the name of that which I had realized was missing in the religious system that I grew up under; being and making disciples of Jesus (true discipleship).
 
But just knowing the name of a problem isn’t a solution in and of itself either. So once again, I did what I had been taught to do and began to seek a solution to the lack of discipleship within our churches through prayer and studying the Word.
 
And once again, over the course of time (through a continued commitment to prayer, Bible study, and academic study) God revealed to me from Scripture specifically what it was about being and making disciples of Jesus that we were not teaching and not doing in our modern, theologically conservative, Evangelical American churches.
 
These specific biblical principles that we have not been teaching and doing in the modern church, explain specifically WHAT it really means to imitate and obey Jesus as His disciple: specifically WHY we should imitate and obey Jesus as His disciple; and specifically HOW we are to imitate and obey Jesus as His disciple.
 
In short, these principles are:
 
 
1.   The Image of God as the Basis of Discipleship:
 
The ultimate goal of the Gospel is that men bring glory to God by being re-conformed to the image of God that they were originally created to be.
 
(Genesis 1:27, 1 Corinthians 11:7, Matthew 5:48, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 4:22-24, 5:1, Colossians 3:9-10, 2 Peter 1:4)
 
 
2. The Purpose of Imitating Jesus as His Disciple:
 
The goal of men being re-conformed to the image of God is accomplished by men imitating and obeying Jesus, who is the perfect image of God, as His disciple; through the empowerment and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
 
(Romans 8:29, 1 Corinthians 11:1, 15:49, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 5:17, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 4:11-13, Philippians 2:1-5, 3:7-11, Colossians 1:15, 1:28-29, 2:2-3, 2:9-12, 1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2 Timothy 3:12,Titus 3:4-6, Hebrews 1:3, 6:1, 12:1-3, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:1-4, 2:21, 2 Peter 3:18, 1 John 2:6, 3:3, 4:17)
 
(Please take note that almost every book in the New Testament has a reference to being conformed to the image of either God or Jesus. This is not an obscure concept; it is one of the most commonly taught principles in the New Testament and therefore in the early church.)
 
 
3. The First Century, Biblical Understanding of Discipleship:
 
Imitating and obeying Jesus as His disciple begins (but does not end) with specifically learning and then keeping the words, teachings, commands, and example that He gave during His earthly ministry. It is simply impossible to imitate someone without knowing what they said and did.
 
(Matthew 7:24-29, 10:24-25, 11:25-30, 12:41-42, 13:16-17, 13:34-35, 17:5, 24:35; Mark 4:24-25, 4:33-34, 6:34, 8:38, 9:7, 13:31; Luke 6:46-49, 9:35, 10:24, 10:38-42, 11:31-32, 17:10, 19:47-48,  John 3:31-36, 4:25-26, 4:40-42, 5:24, 5:38-39, 5:46-47, 6:28-29, 6:63, 6:66-69, 8:31-32, 8:51, 9:26, 10:27, 12:48, 13:34-35, 14:12, 14:15, 14:23-26, 15:7-17, 15:20-24, 16:6-8)
 
 
4. Biblical Discipleship in a Relational Environment (Relational Discipleship):
 
Being conformed to the image of Jesus by imitating Him as His disciple is not a passive process, but an active/interactive process that occurs within a relational environment; which was established and demonstrated by Jesus during His earthly ministry.
 
(Mark 3:31-35, 4:34, Luke 10:38-42, Acts 2:42-47, 1 Corinthians 14:40, 2 Timothy 2:2)
 
 
Therefore, the solution to the lack of being and making disciples of Jesus occurring within our churches is to begin to once again teach and keep these Biblical principles.
 
Personally, this is the solution that I was led to by 40 years of being committed to prayer and studying the Word.
 
 
Please ask yourself a few questions:
 
“Have you noticed the lack of being and making disciples of Jesus in your church; and if so, have you committed yourself to prayer and studying the Word in order to discover God’s solution to the problem…
 
…and then what?”
 
“If God reveals to you that you must teach specific things from Scripture that have not been taught in our churches in recent history, will you teach them?”
 
“If God reveals to you that you must do specific things in your church that have not been done in our churches in recent history, will you do them?”
 
“If not, what is it that you are even praying for?”
 
“If not, what is it that you are searching for in the Word when you study it?”
 
 
If you are interested in learning more about our Four Principles of Discipleship and why it is so important that we imitate and obey Jesus as His disciples, start here…