Prayer Guides | Vol. 4, Days 1-10

    April 01, 2020 | Prayer Guides by Various Authors

    Love God, Love Others

    DAY 1 – What is a disciple of Christ?

    “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” - Matthew 16:24-25

    The word disciple means “follower,” or in the biblical context of Christianity, “follower of Christ.” This was both spiritually and physically true for disciples when Jesus walked the earth. For us today it is a spiritual truth, but one that should alter every aspect of our physical existence. The above verses from Matthew 16:24-25 get at the heart of what being a follower of Christ is all about. In fact, this concept is so fundamental to discipleship that it is also found, in the other Gospels (Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:23-24) and a variation of the same concept in John 12:25-26.

    Trusting in Christ as Savior requires a denial of self, and so does following Him with our lives. The phrase “come after me” has the connotation of closeness or intimacy with Christ. The taking up of our own cross speaks of sacrifice and service. Spurgeon states this very well in his commentary: “As our Lord, to fulfill His destiny, must sacrifice Himself, so also must every one who would be His follower.” We are to love God and love others, serving Him first and others second rather than ourselves.

    Losing our lives for His sake is an intentional, ongoing process. This is often referred to as “dying to self.” Truly focusing on Christ and eternity brings unity and life, while focusing on temporal things, desiring to accumulate and hold on to what the world has to offer, brings separation and death. John 8:31-32 states “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’” Note the words “believed” and “abide.” To be a disciple of Christ requires faith; also faith is required for us to live according to His Word. The biblical lifestyle of discipleship is purposeful, continual, and transformational. Simply put, a disciple of Christ is who you are, based on what you know, leading to what you do.

    Questions to consider:
    - Am I a follower of Christ? How can I grow closer to God? Are there worldly things I need to let go of in order to be a disciple?

    Prayer Prompts:
    - That I identify as a disciple, or follower, of Jesus Christ.
    - That I understand that discipleship is an intentional, ongoing process.
    - That I will develop a regular habit growing in all areas of discipleship in my life.

    DAY 2 – The Great Commandment: Love God, Love Others

    Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God…” -Mark 12:38-34

    The above passage contains what is often called “The Great Commandment.” Jesus tells us to love God and love others. In this commandment, all of the Ten Commandments are represented see Exodus 20:1-17: “Love God” covers Commandments 1-4; “Love Others” encompasses Commandments 5-10. These two commands will also serve as the basis for the eight goals of discipleship at Richland Creek. Four of these goals focus on how we Love God… In His Word; In Prayer; In Our Witness; In Our Worship and the other four focus on how we Love Others… Through Church Community; Through Our Ministry; Through Our Generosity; While On Mission. Through the following eight pages we will examine each of these goals with an eye towards identifying ourselves, understanding the biblical purpose, and developing a plan of application in each and every area. There are Bible verses for each, as well as key questions to ask yourself and prayer prompts.
    The response of Jesus in verse 34 indicates the keystone purpose of The Great Commandment. To be closer to Him and His kingdom, we must follow Him. In order to follow Him we must identify as disciples, understand His Word, and diligently develop habits that lead to spiritual growth. To be disciples we must love God and love others.

    Questions to consider:
    - Do I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Do I love my neighbors as myself?
    Prayer Prompts:
    - That I identify as a disciple of Jesus Christ through faith and understand God’s Word as the source of truth in my life.
    - That I will develop habits that aid in my spiritual growth and reveal in me any worldly hindrances to my spiritual growth.

    DAY 3 – Love God…In His Word

    “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” -2 Timothy 3:16-17

    Through our ongoing assessment process, we keep coming back to the truth of being defined by the Word. The Bible is God’s heartfelt message to us. It is what He wants us to know about Him and how He wants us to live for Him. It serves both as a cautionary tale and as a hopeful promise for each of us. The entire narrative of Scripture focuses on God’s love for us, our disobedience to Him, His promised rescue through His Son Jesus Christ, and His plan for us as His followers.

    Studying God’s Word is how we get to know Him better. We grow closer to Him as we read, study, and apply His truth in our lives. As disciples, and as a church family, our lives must be defined by His Word. Our leadership team is committed to working toward defining biblically what a growing disciple is at Richland Creek, teaching who a disciple should be, what should they know, and what they should do. Our assessment process has identified that this is something we can, and should, do better.

    We encourage you to pray for your own personal discipleship, as well as the corporate discipleship within our church family. Also, please pray for all in church leadership as we work to ensure our discipleship process is defined by the Word.

    Questions to consider:
    - Is my life defined by God’s Word? How can our church improve our discipleship process? How is studying God’s Word important to my discipleship?
    Prayer Prompts:
    - That I identify I am under the authority of God’s Word in every area of my life.
    - That I understand that to know God’s Word fully, I need to study it carefully and obey it rigorously.
    - That I will develop a regular habit of studying God’s Word on my own and with other believers.
    - That we would teach the Bible in our homes, leading our families well in truth and love.
    - That our church would continually be defined by His Word.
    - That our church leadership team would biblically define and teach what a growing disciple at Richland Creek should be, know, and do.
    - Read 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

    DAY 4 – Love God…In Prayer

    “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7

    Identifying the need to be devoted to prayer has been crucial in our ongoing assessment process. Prayer is how we praise God in thankfulness, turn to Him in repentance, and ask Him in anticipation. It is humbling our own thoughts and will to align with His. It is a continuous circular conversation with our heavenly Father, through faith in the Son, and facilitated by the Spirit.

    Prayer is not merely something we do, but an outpouring of who we are in Christ. It demonstrates our utter dependence upon God. An active prayer life is something to be desired, but also something desperately needed. Prayer is our personal communication with God, as well as our corporate voice of unity in Him.

    It has been an exciting season in the prayer life of Richland Creek with the monthly prayer services and prayer guides. The Spirit is moving and has already accomplished much in this early stage. We look forward with you all in great anticipation to our next steps and beyond as we grow into a church family truly and completely devoted to prayer.

    Questions to consider:
    - Am I devoted to prayer? How can I pray for our church family, church leadership, and our community? How is prayer important to my discipleship?
    Prayer Prompts:
    - That I identify as a child of God who needs to pray, privately and alongside others.
    - That I understand that as I pray, I am not changing God’s mind about circumstances, but allowing Him to align our thoughts with His.
    - That I will develop a regular private prayer habit that incorporates praising God for who He is, repenting of sin, giving thanks for His blessings, and humble asking for His provision.
    - That our families would pray together regularly.
    - That as a church we would be devoted to prayer, continuing to create a proactive vs. reactive corporate prayer strategy.
    - Read Colossians 4:2.

    DAY 5 – Palm Sunday

    “The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” -John 12:12-13

    We often refer to Jesus coming to Jerusalem before His death as “The Triumphal Entry.” Indeed it was a triumphant scene as people laid their outer garments and palm branches in the road, a custom reserved for royalty. They rightly called Jesus Lord and King. They shouted “Hosanna,” which can be translated “save us now.” But what kind of salvation were they asking for and expecting?

    Most were desperately hoping for the heir to David’s throne to rule and reign right then and there to conquer, or at least provide deliverance from the Roman Empire. Yes, Jesus did conquer and deliver, but from much greater oppressors than Rome. Through His sinless life and death on the cross, Jesus conquered death for all who would trust in Him. Through His resurrection from the tomb, Jesus provided deliverance from death for all who would trust in Him. Jesus was and is the Messiah promised to Israel and the world.

    Jesus would go on to cleanse the temple (Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19), preparing for the new covenant through His death, burial, and resurrection. This season is an incredible opportunity to examine ourselves as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), focusing on what Jesus did for each and all of us. Salvation from sin and eternal life in heaven are promised to all who trust in Jesus Christ. He is our Lord and King!

    Questions to consider:
    - Who is Jesus to me? Are there things in my life that need to be cleansed by Him? How am I preparing for His return?
    Prayer Prompts:
    - That I identify Jesus as Lord and King through faith in Him.
    - That I understand God’s plan of salvation through faith in the sinless life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
    - That I will develop a plan to live as His “temple” and prepare my heart for His return.

    “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” -1 Corinthians 6:19

    DAY 6 – Love God…In Our Witness

    “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” -Acts 1:8

    When someone places their faith in Christ, the most amazing exchange occurs. Christ takes their sins, putting them on Himself having died on the cross as suitable payment for the judgment they deserve. He also gives His righteousness in the person of the Holy Spirit, helping believers live for Him. This is true for all Christians, whether or not they are gifted as evangelists.

    We are all not only capable, but also commanded, to give witness of Jesus and how He transformed our lives. Of course, we could all benefit from the help of others who have been walking with Christ longer than we have. They probably know more Scripture than we do. They likely have shared the gospel more than we have. They may also have shared their personal testimony more often.

    As disciples of Christ we are commanded to help make other disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Our leadership team is working towards a strategy that will equip and encourage each of us to be prepared at any time to share the gospel and our testimonies. God is glorified when we share the gospel and tell how Christ has transformed our lives. Through His Word and our witness other lives can be transformed as disciples of Christ.

    Questions to consider:
    - Do I know how to share the gospel and my testimony of faith? How can I help equip and encourage others in evangelism? How is my witness important to my discipleship?

    Prayer Prompts:
    - That I identify evangelism as a command of Scripture, both of the church corporately and of each believer personally.
    - That I understand the Good News of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
    - That I will develop a clear and simple gospel outline and personal testimony that can be shared at any time.
    - That I will help encourage, equip, and enlist others in evangelism.
    - That I will pray for lost people I know regularly and fervently (pray for them by name).
    - That our leadership team would develop and implement a systemic strategy to engage the congregation in personal evangelism.
    - Read 1 Peter 3:15.

    DAY 7 – Love God…In Our Worship

    “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” - John 4:23-24

    As stated above in John 4:23-24, we should seek to be true worshipers. We can worship God as His children saved by the work of Jesus and, filled with the Holy Spirit. We can worship God as His followers in the truth He reveals through His Word. Worship is our response to a holy, loving, just, merciful, and faithful Father. It is the overflow of a grateful heart, forever thankful for the grace given through Christ.

    It can be hard to define worship, since everything we do as Christians should be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). It is our hearts and minds that determine and define worship for each of us. An inwardly or improperly focused heart and mind can lead to idol worship or misguided worship. We also must resist the cultural norm of measuring ourselves and each other based solely on works. Remember, a disciple of Christ is who we are and not what we do. Our works are the result, not the cause, of lives transformed by Christ.

    When we are right with God through faith in Christ, we are able to glorify Him with our lives. We can glorify Him at home, work, school, church, the athletic field, or wherever else we are. God has created us to worship Him, and our mission is to bring Him glory. As a church, we can enthusiastically embrace this mission together.

    Questions to consider:
    - Is God the highest priority in my life? How can I can glorify God with my life? How is worship important to my discipleship?
    Prayer Prompts:
    - That I identify the Triune God as the highest priority of my life.
    - That I understand that everything I do should be an act of worship in response to God’s love for us and an expression of our love for Him.
    - That I will develop a regular habit of worship, through private devotion and in church gatherings.
    - That I will worship in spirit and in truth.
    - That I will embrace my faith as who I am rather than what I do.
    - That our leadership would identify a dedicated full time Worship Pastor to bring before the congregation.
    - Read 1 Corinthians 10:31.

    DAY 8 – Love Others..Through Church Community

    “…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” -1 John 1:3

    God not only created us to have a relationship with Him, but also with one another. In this season of “social distancing” the value of community and fellowship with each other are more apparent than ever. To be clear, the context here is not merely hanging out or passively observing others as they participate. We are talking about interaction designed to intentionally build each other up, hold each other accountable, and produce holiness.

    Before we can consider what that kind of interaction looks like, we must first think about the answer to this question: “Why would we do it?” As Christians we are compelled by the grace and love shown to us by Jesus to reach out and share these with others. Jesus fostered community focused on God’s mission throughout the Gospels. Whether He was with one disciple or many thousands, the community was always about the mission.

    We see this concept carried on by the early church as recorded in Acts, as well as in many of the Epistles. With an understanding of “why” we can then clearly see that each of us and all of us are the “who.” Now it is time for us to move toward the “what” and “how” questions, focusing on God’s mission as we love one another through church community and fellowship.

    Questions to consider:
    - Do I identify as a member of the body of Christ and our church? How can I love others through church community? How is church community important to my discipleship?
    Prayer Prompts:
    - That I identify as a member of the covenant body of Christ, that is, the church.
    - That I understand the biblical commands for loving one another and their implications for my life.
    - That I will develop a regular habit of meeting with other believers for the specific purpose of mutual building up in the faith and accountability in spiritual growth.
    - That our church community would grow in quality, leading to quantity.
    - That I will embrace my role within our church family, however God directs.
    - That our leadership would intentionally foster an environment of loving care for our church family.
    - Read Acts 2:42.

    DAY 9 – Love Others..Through Our Ministry

    “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” -2 Corinthians 5:18

    John 13:1-17 contains one of the greatest examples of ministry in all of Scripture. Here we read that Jesus loved the Apostles by washing their feet. This is an incredible act of service as this was an undesirable, even disgusting, task. Feet tend to be stinky to begin with, plus there would have been the added filth of wearing sandals in a desert climate. It is no wonder that Peter was surprised by what Jesus did, even doing his best to try to stop Him.

    Verses 14-15 tell us plainly why Jesus did this: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” Jesus showed love in a very practical, clear, and memorable way to the Apostles. He gave them an example to follow, keeping the focus on God’s mission.
    As we follow God’s mission individually and as a church, we strive to not only follow Christ’s example of mercy, love, forgiveness, but also Christ’s example of service. When we truly love God, we can also truly love one another. Christ sacrificed everything for us and we glorify Him when we sacrifice for each other through ministry.

    Questions to consider:
    - Do I identify as a member of the body of Christ and our church? How can I love others through church community? How is ministry important to my discipleship?

    Prayer Prompts:
    - That I identify as a servant, following in the footsteps of our Lord.
    - That I understand my own spiritual gift(s) and my indispensable role as part of the body of Christ.
    - That I will develop a regular habit of serving in church ministries, employing my spiritual gift(s) for the good of others, and caring for fellow believers.
    - That I will love others by ministering to them.
    - That all ministry areas at Richland Creek would align with God’s mission.
    - Pray for all Creek Pastors, Elders, Deacons, staff, ministry area leaders, and servant teams.
    - Read Romans 12:10-11.

    DAY 10 – Good Friday

    “And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” -Mark 15:37-38

    On Sunday many thousands were shouting “Hosanna” as Jesus entered Jerusalem. And yet, just a few days later some of the same people were shouting “Crucify Him!” Jesus was convicted and sentenced to death even though He was innocent of any crime and spotless from sin. It can seem heartbreaking to consider the excruciating pain and humiliation our Savior endured. But we must remember that He endured it for us.

    Under the High Priest system that God’s people followed, only the High Priest had direct access to God in the “Holy of Holies” within the temple. The High Priest would make yearly atonement for the sins of Israel through animal sacrifice. There would often be a rope tied to one the High Priest’s feet in case he was struck dead in God’s presence due to unconfessed sin and had to be dragged out. A veil roughly 45-60 feet high and 4 inches thick served as a final barrier to the Holy of Holies.

    It is of utmost significance that this thick and heavy veil, separating people and God, was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died. Christ’s blood provided the eternal atonement for the sins of humanity. There is no need for further sacrifice as His blood is sufficient. Jesus reconciled humanity back to God, restoring our broken relationship. There is no need for any other High Priest as Jesus gives us direct access to God. As we celebrate Good Friday, let us dwell on Jesus as both sacrifice and High Priest.

    Questions to consider:
    - What does Good Friday mean to me as a disciple of Christ? Are there things in my life that keep me from growing closer to Him? How do I handle my sin before a holy God?

    Prayer Prompts:
    - That I identify Jesus as both sacrifice and High Priest.
    - That I understand God’s plan of salvation through faith in the sinless life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
    - That I will develop a plan to grow closer to Him, regularly repenting of sin.
    - Read John 19:28-30.