Grow As A Disciple
"Hands together, eyes closed..." remember that being said in school assemblies? If you're my age or older you might. It was said as it that's how you turn prayer on, like putting a key in the ignition of a car and starting it up. But prayer isn't about where your hands are and it's not about closing your eyes. It's a conversation with God, with our Father. Do you close your eyes when you're talking to someone that's there with you? Prayer is something that should be exciting, not boring; life giving not life sucking. It's time with God, the giver of life. But that doesn't make it easy. Here are some tips to help you pray.
1. What should you pray about?
The bible says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." - Philippians 4:6
So you can pray about anything and everything. Nothing's too big, nothing's too small. If it's on your heart or mind you can pray about it. Whatever the situation, whether it's one that makes you feel anxious or one that stirs joy in your heart, pray about it.
2. When and how should I pray?
The bible says "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying..." - Ephesians 6:18
So you can pray whenever, you can pray on all occasions, and you can pray with all kinds of prayers. You can pray with tears or with laughter, you can pray by shouting out or by whispering quietly in your heart. There are no rules, and there are no set times. The bible says "pray continually" - 1 Thessalonians 5:17. God is always with you so you can always talk with Him, He doesn't sleep or slumber (Psalm 121).
3. What did Jesus say about prayer?
Ok so we said there are no rules, and there aren't really but Jesus did make one thing clear.... Be real! This isn't religion, it's relationship. This isn't ritual, it's reality. Prayer is a holy moment, a life giving moment, a conversation between a child and their Father. So Jesus did say don't make prayer into a show, there's no point, God isn't interested in a show, He's interested in you. And he did say don't waffle and use long words, don't dress it up, He doesn't need to be impressed by you, He wants to impress you. He just wants to hear you heart and share His with You. (read Matthew 6:5-13 for more).
So that's it. Why not start now. Say Hello. I usually start my day with "morning Father" as the water from the shower hits down on my back, and then I go from there.
In John 13 there is this crazy account of Jesus doing something bizarre. Before I tell you what it is can we just for a moment remember who Jesus is. John starts his gospel by writing that Jesus was "the Word" that everything that is came into being through, meaning when you go back to Genesis 1 "in the beginning" and you read about God creating, the power that made all that happen, that was Jesus. He is God. He is the creator, the artist, the designer, architect of everything. And He is the king of it all, the ruler, the one who is at the head of the army leading the fight to win it all back from the power of evil and death, the one who every knee will bow before. We're talking about that Jesus.
And then there in John 13 that Jesus, takes off his outer robes, wraps some cloth around his waste, gets down on his hands and knees and starts to wash the dirt, smelly feet of his disciples. And let's be real for a moment, they're not even that great at being disciples. They're failures who get it wrong all the time, they're a bunch of rough blokes from Galilee, and they've been out walking in sandals on some of the dirtiest roads (more like tracks) around. Then the king and creator of the whole cosmos washes their feet.
The bible tells us that even though He was God He didn't consider His glory and power something to be paraded around, and He humbled Himself to show love and mercy to others. (Philippians 2).
After Jesus had washed His disciples feet He said to them "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet" (John 13:14) and in Philippians 2 the writer encourages us to be like Jesus and not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to, I mean He was God and we are not and so if He can serve dirty, smelly human beings, well then so can we.
As disciples of Jesus (Christians) we are called to be like Jesus. That's our aim in life, to become like Him.
So throw yourself in. Take off what ever you dress yourself up in, and get down in the dirt, so to speak, and start touching people's lives. You don't need a position to do that, you can just do it. Find out if someone on your street needs help with something and help them, volunteer at a local toddler group or find an organisation that's helping people learn to read and go offer your help.
And of course you can get involved in our church community as well. You might think that serving on a team in church is something to aim for because it gives you a position, but you'd be wrong. It's something to aim for because you get to become a servant and you get involved in making other people's lives better, you get to bless them, you get to be Jesus to them.
To find out about ways you can serve in our church please email our pastor: email@example.com
People can get a bit weird when it comes to churches and giving. It can feel like the church is often just after your money. So let me start by saying we're not after your money. If you give to us then thank you and if you don't then please know we don't hold that against you or judge you for it. We trust that year on year God will provide for His work in this church, and that has been our story. Almost every year we seem to get to the point of thinking "we're going to run out of money... we might need to lay off the staff..." but every year in different and miraculous ways God provides for all our needs just as His word says that He will (Philippians 4:19).
But giving (or tithing as lots of people call it) is important, and I hope to share with you why. It's not about keeping the lights on, or keeping the pastor or youth worker in a job. It's actually all about you and what Jesus want's to do in Your life, and that's why we want to share with you about it, because our heart is to see you know the fullness of life that Jesus speaks of offering (John 10:10).
You can give in other ways as well as with money, but for more information on that please see the section called "Serve" just above here.
Tithing is the idea of giving the first 10% of your income to God. It comes from the bible, and the ancient Israelite way of life where they would offer to God the first 10% of their crops or herds as a way of saying thank you to God for His provision, but also as a way of recognising that all that they had came from Him and He alone was there king. It also was a way of saying "we put our trust in You" to God. If they gave the first fruits of the harvest they were trusting that God would provide more as the harvest went on. It was a beautiful way of God also showing His faithfulness and provision for them.
So we say that Jesus is our king. And if we mean that then what we're saying is that He is over every area of our lives: our hearts and minds, our will, our relationships, our job, our family, our hopes and dreams, our failures, and our finances. As our king we bring everything under His rule and reign, because we trust that He is good. In the bible God says to His people "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house...." basically saying give to me your first 10%, then He goes on to say "...Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."
What God is saying is "great, you've got that and it looks like a lot to you. But if you trust me with all that you have I have SO MUCH MORE for you." The question is will we trust him?
There are loads of reasons for tithing, which have nothing to do with keeping the church propped up, but let me just share one more with you. Deuteronomy 14:22-23 tells us that tithing isn't about giving money to the church but about what it does to our hearts. We say a lot that our goal is to become like Jesus. And tithing is actually a discipleship tool that shapes us more than it helps anyone our money goes to. Deuteronomy 14 says that we should tithe "so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always." We don't tithe to help someone out or to contribute towards the bills at church, we tithe because it puts us in a place where we have to learn to trust in God and to revere Him. God uses tithing to help us build trust in Him and grow closer to Him, that's His heart for us to know Him more and more, so we tithe because it causes us to trust Him, which leads to us experiencing His faithfulness.
If you'd like to start tithing to God through Counterslip you can do that by setting up a standing order using these details:
Sort Code: 12-20-26
Account Number: 01817515