First, the bad news. We live in a busted up, broken world, full of problems. Many problems to many people. It’s the world we find ourselves in: sickness, poverty, troubled relationships, corrupt governing, and lots more junk.
A Spiritual Director or spiritual friend has a simple job: to help you hear God for yourself, with greater confidence and clarity, joining in a conversation that God is already having with you.
When you want to receive what God has to “say” (it’s not always in words), a spiritual director can sometimes be mighty helpful. I know, because I’ve been helped this way. Often.
Why and how can this be? What goes on? I’m still figuring this out, but my current understanding is something like this:
“Hearing” God can be hard, because:
-Our own opinions, beliefs, personal history and other “stuff” can sometimes make it harder to hear God by ourselves.
-A lot of us still need a lot more practice trying to hear from God. (Hearing is a metaphor that can include words, still knowing that is pre-verbal, seeing or feeling something, noticing thoughts in our mind that might be from God, and lots more. Whew! No wonder we can use help!)
Discipling someone, or several people, can can succeed a lot faster than most of us are used to. I call this “Disciple-Making on Steroids” because this approach is so powerful and fast.
Here’s an example to learn from, that, with variations – depending on your situation, can be done more easily and more quickly than perhaps we have ever seen.
On the street or in a supermarket or other store, or maybe a shopping mall, you see someone who obviously needs healing. Their injury or disability or pain is obvious to you.
So you walk up to them and say, “Hello. My name is ____; it looks to me like you have some” pain, difficulty, injury, disability – whatever it is. Make it easy for them to talk to you about it. Make sure you discover what it is that they cannot do or cannot easily do, because of that particular need of healing.
Ask them if it’s okay for you to pray for them. Most people will be glad for such prayer, if by then you are in rapport. If they are not willing, thank them and let them be.
You can pray for them at a distance if you like.
Keep doing this until you discover someone who is willing to be prayed for.
Pray for them, praying to Jesus, maybe something like, “Dear Jesus, help this person with ____” whatever is needed. They expected you to pray for them, and it’s easy for them to say yes to such a request. Then be sure to quietly but with authority – like when you are talking to a child or a pet and you really mean it – tell that need for healing to be healed. Be sensitive to Holy Spirit and do as seems best.
Ask them to test, to do what they could not easily do or could not do. When they succeed, give thanks to Jesus!
When that does not go well, you can be like Jesus healing the blind man who could see a bit more at first, but needed more healing and said something like, “I see men walking, but they are like trees walking”. So, like Jesus, you pray (and command with authority), healing again.
If you want to do it like Jesus did, and was so successful at healing so often (always), you can do it like this:
Keep testing the healing until it is done. Persist.
Now comes the cool part, disciple making on steroids:
Now that they have been healed, ask them something like, “Would you like to give your life to Jesus and have him as your Lord?” When they say yes, lead them in such a prayer. When they say no, just continue as if they had. Because of what happens next, they probably will.
Take the person who has now been healed and who now has Jesus (or not) in them, and go with them. Find someone else who has an obvious need of healing. Instruct them to pray for and command healing, just as they experienced. Have them heal the person in need. Pray for them and their ministry, and their good success while that do that. Help them out loud as called for and needed.
Now you have someone with you who has been healed, who has come to Jesus (or not, yet). If not yet come to Jesus, ask them if they want to make it official now, and help them accept Jesus as Lord. If not, get their contact information, pray for them, and follow up and give them encouragement and help as you are led with Holy Spirit. Just do the best you can and ask for help through Holy Spirit.
I like to ask for more of Holy Spirit before I pray for someone or minister. My prayer and ministry is more effective when I do this, and I hear God better, too.
I believe that this is how Jesus wants us to minister in these times. In these days. The time is short: make disciples, with Holy Spirit, on steroids!
Those of us who use even a somewhat Evangelical approach to salvation have a few prayers that we encourage so that someone can experience salvation.
The Bible takes a different approach. So much so that the most frequent method to attain salvation in the bible is one I’ve never seen or heard of being used with a potential convert. By hindsight, this is a bit astounding.
Yet in real life, it makes perfect sense. And the usual prayers are used for several good reasons.
It really is wise and good that we get to know more consciously about Jesus, and Jesus as our Lord. And that this be expressed clearly in our prayer.
So what is this most frequently mentioned method of achieving salvation in scriptures that is so unused for making converts? It’s actually a method frequently used by the rest of us.
A very common prayer, used by many of us when we need help, when we need and want to be saved. Just seldom used to help someone become a convert to Christianity.
What is this frequently used approach for getting help when most needed, but seldom if ever used to help someone become a convert?
It’s simply this: call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved.
Biblical theology is probably wider and more inclusive than our theologies. God is certainly more broad minded than we are.
And this illustrates very well how some things are taught about to us and for us in scripture from many angles, in many ways. And we tend to focus on one way, sometimes proof-texting, yet even so, we tend to focus on one very good way. But God and scriptures offers more options than we often think about and sometimes more options than we even normally trust or believe in.
Thank you, Lord, for being so broad minded, for thinking differently than we do, for being more loving and generous than we yet are able to grasp.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us eternity to continue to get to know you and your love. We need you. And we need eternity to explore and learn about your love and your depth. Thank you, Lord!
Sometimes the assumptions built into our local traditions help us get things wrong.
Jesus repeatedly said that he came to give us Life. The Life of God (in New Testament Greek: Zoe). Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus say his purpose was to come to get you into heaven.
He repeatedly said that he came to bring you Life, Zoe: the Life of God. Heaven is included.
He came to get Life into you: the Life of God. (Something the first Adam lost.) Relationship restored!
Jesus never said to make converts; he said to make disciples. (Converts are included in making disciples.)
He came so you can start helping to bring heaven to earth – now. Wow! You get to help bring heaven to earth.
Salvation is included, and you will go to heaven. And later in our New Heaven and New Earth, God will literally be our Light that we see by, in the Temple.
Help bring Heaven to earth: preach the Good News of the Kingdom. Heal the sick. Free the bound. Make disciples of all nations, all people groups.
Also, you get to pray for heaven on earth:
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6: 8-10, NKJV
So…my thesis here is that Jesus did not say he came here to get us into heaven, even though he does get us into heaven when we respond with faith. What he repeatedly said was that he came here to give us Life. The Life of God, in us, does result in heaven. And later, into the New Heaven and New Earth.
It’s like that he did not say we were to make converts. He said to make disciples – this should be our focus when evangelizing. Which will result in stronger and more effective Christians than by focusing on making converts. Let’s follow Jesus and do what Jesus said.
Let’s do and minister as Jesus showed, taught, and as he still says to us today in Scripture, with Holy Spirit. Doing as Jesus teaches is better than following local traditions.
And I have other prayer lists, which have been growing.
So I asked Jesus if I could ask for directions for praying for these many worthy and wonderful Prayer Targets. He answered right away, “Sure! I do it all the time!” And brought to my mind how he intercedes for so many of us – always.
How do you do it, I ask? “Same as always,” Jesus replies. “Father shows or tells me. You can do the same.”
So I asked Jesus if I could ask for directions for praying for these many worthy and wonderful Prayer Targets. He gave me several ways:
First, he reminded me of how I used to have index cards with prayer needs and prayer targets, beginning and ending dates; notes on what happened. I got to know them so well I could go through them with prayer intentions that no longer took a lot of time.
I realized something recently that surprised and delighted me. Some years ago I introduced maybe as many as 75 people to how to experience Jesus for themselves, experiencing Jesus in their heart. It was based on a key decision, which I explained they could undo if they did not like the experience or did not want to continue to experience Jesus. Not a single one chose to not continue to experience Jesus in their hearts. That’s astounding, there is little that we humans do that works so well. But then, this was the work of Holy Spirit….
Most of these people went on to be baptized in water, and then be baptized in Holy Spirit. We met in one of three houses, rotating where we met for about two years. Our weekly meetings lasted 6-8 hours; some people came early, others left early. We didn’t have 75 people at these meetings, but the house was always pretty full.
During that time, discipling happened, helped and led by Holy Spirit.
Regardless, we all learned how to experience Jesus. And everyone liked this so much they wanted to continue.
I was inspired to try this with people by Holy Spirit when reading scripture. It was long ago, and I’m not sure, but I suspect I had been reading 1 John, Chapter 4.
Here’s how it went, helping people to experience Jesus for themselves:
Try out these beliefs, and check your heart: you will be experiencing Jesus in your heart.
If you don’t like it, just decide against those beliefs.
Jesus is fully man, completely human.
Jesus is fully God, he is God.
When you believe both of these things: you can experience Jesus in your heart.
Most of us are called to minister in our sphere of influence. There is a deep satisfaction to ministering where we are to people we can touch with the Kingdom of God.
This is a safe place to practice, learn, and minister in. Your ego will be tempted far less than in some other spheres. It’s a good idea to start where you are, and to follow Holy Spirit as in Galatians 5. The Fruit is good!
I notice that when I minister in my sphere of influence, Holy Spirit often noticeably helps. I feel safe, secure, helpful. Inspired. Temptations of my ego and flesh are minimal. Holy Spirit moves.
Please notice for yourself what it is like for you when you minister in your sphere of influence.
Jesus sent disciples out in pairs. See Mathew 10 & Luke 10. Go. Go minister. Jesus even gives directions on how to do this without money or buildings. Sent people go out in pairs. Take little with them. Depend on resources to live from where they stay, in houses of peace. Ministering to the people who know and are in contact with a house of peace is easy. As healing happens, as people are set free, you become busy.
Be not burdened with seeking fame, money, or expensive buildings that eat up resources for ministry. Follow the pattern in the Gospels. Share the Good News of the Kingdom. Heal the sick. Free the bound. Some people will be eager to learn more: make disciples, of all sorts of people. Disciples that meet together are the start of an ecclesia – often translated as church.
(A church is a gathering of believers, not an expensive building.)
Doing these things will cause increasing numbers of people being ministered to, healed and set free. You will become busy as word gets out – the need is great and there are many in great need. Disciples who plant ecclesias will multiply, and multiply, and the numbers can become amazing before too long.
This is a simple and powerful pattern that Jesus demonstrated, taught, and that his Disciples followed. This pattern still works today.
A few are called – a few – to larger and more public ministry. These are few, and the traps and dangers are many: various temptations. Big expenses and big egos are rampant. Selling the current culture of entertainment works, and becomes part of ministries – too often without Holy Spirit. Tricks of theater can become ineffective substitutes for Holy Spirit, as can enlarged egos of people who seek fame.
Theater skills and lessons can be used well in ministry. Some do this on a full time basis, some part of the time. Too many are distracted by worldly fame and worldly methods – this is not a path that is safe or good for everyone! Take care. Follow Holy Spirit, always; and you will be doing well. For Jesus sends us Holy Spirit for such reasons as these.
The most successful ministers and ministries have intercessors – before, during and after ministry. (This is true whether ministry be large or small; is part of the the Normal Pattern of Ministry Growth that Jesus gave us. Jesus sent people out in pairs. One prays while the other ministers, I was taught early on – and this works amazingly well.)
Teams of intercessors leads to more effective and powerful ministries.
Best is to always minister where God calls you to minister. If you are not clear, ask for more of Holy Spirit. Then ask for where you are to minister. Usually you will not be given a grand plan or a grand assignment. Usually you will be given a single step to follow and do, where you will learn what you need for future next steps.
You will make mistakes and run into obstacles. Holy Spirit will show you what’s next, as you continue to learn. We love our successes and learn most from our failures. After five or six good failures, your ministry will likely be taking off.
You may become famous or have acclaim. If this is for the glory of God, you and your ego and flesh may be safe from temptation.
Faith is easy when we hear and rely on a word from God. Faith comes to us by hearing, and what we hear that gives faith is a Word from God.
We hear the Word. We hear Jesus, the creator of heaven and earth.
So…you understand, in a general way, that God does certain things and wants certain things to happen, like the destruction of the works of the devil. Such as Restoration, Salvo – including healing and freedom from unclean spirits (such things are what Jesus came for).
But without a personal Word from God that you hear personally, it is hard to have faith; likely impossible – otherwise we are trying to have faith in our thoughts or even worse, faith in our faith. Which I can tell you by too much disappointing experience – is not only extremely hard, it does not work.
But faith in what you hear from Jesus, the Word of God that created since the beginning before time and light, such faith works. And as long as you are experientially in touch, in contact, with that Word, faith is relatively easy and God’s inspiration always makes it easier.
So…how do you get such faith when you do not yet have it? Hear from God.
How to hear from God in such a personal way when you have not yet personally heard from God? It’s simple. Even easy. ASK.
Ask Jesus. (you are first having faith in Jesus.)
Pause, listen, receive and hear; and let faith blossom. (You are receiving a Word from Jesus. Have faith in that Word. Act – receive and take action to receive and have or experience what you have asked for. Taking action is not only part of the process Jesus repeatedly promised, it’s an outcome of and a result of your faith.)
So when you know something is wanted or promised in scripture, by God, and you have not heard in a personal way that gives you personal revelation and insight, ASK.
Ask, receive, knock – take appropriate next step action.
If you want a baby, maybe get a crib. At least buy diapers. Start getting ready to have what you have asked for and what Jesus gives you a personal, inspiring, revelatory message for: have faith.
If you want to heal someone, ask Jesus – how do I pray. Notice what you experience next, and pray – doing that. Until healing is completely and thoroughly enforced, the prayer results have shown up. (Ask – Jesus. Receive – guidance about how to pray. Act [action is like knocking on a door] to open up what you are having faith for – open that door for Jesus. Jesus makes it easy.)
Faith is easy. Ask Jesus. Listen – receive. Knock – act on your faith.
Faith is easy when done right. The Word makes such faith possible. Grab onto it!
And do not proceed on your own ideas about how to do something without faith or guidance from God. Sarah tried that, and the results have been not only the birth of a difficult child, but the birth of a people-group that have been in conflict with Israel ever since.
Faith is easy. Ask, Receive, and Act (like knocking on a door) – to be ready to have what you have asked for.