I am more and more convinced that we need to check our steps if the process of disciple making that we use does not reproduce disciples that make more disciples. This is exactly what the apostle Paul is communicating in 2 Timothy 2:2 NLT: “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”
We know from proven research that disciple making is most effective when we start by reading God’s Word and reflecting on it in prayer to Him daily. Scripture reminds us often that our spiritual journey each day grows by building a close, continuing relationship with God. One very clear verse is James 4:8: “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” We see this again when God speaks to Jeremiah:“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know,” (Jeremiah 33:3.)
I will not soon forget a conversation I had with a church leader recently while talking about our devotional life with God. I had just given The Invitation workshop and was talking about the importance of having a daily Quiet Time of at least ten minutes. This man said, “I understand your approach, but I am a very busy truck driver. Couldn’t I just wait and do all seven weekly Quiet Times for about 90 minutes on my day off? It is all the same, isn’t it?” Because I had an ongoing relationship with this man, I felt I could speak from my heart out of love and concern. I asked this man, “As married men, is this how we build a growing relationship with our wife and children?” He quickly understood the value and need for a daily time of devotional Scripture reading and prayer with God.
A very strong and clear explanation of how we spiritually reproduce from our union with God is described in John 15:4-5:
This instruction from John really works, but we must trust God and by faith build a bond of growing relationship with Him. God has written 66 love letters to us, and He is longing for us to read them and respond in loving prayer back to Him. Do this and before long, your cup of joy will be overflowing and you will be longing to share the love of God with other people.
One of the best ways to get started is to find someone that models and lives out spiritual disciple making and a close relationship with God. Those that have had a good coach know that it is not just what the coach says but what he or she does that makes the difference.
I have been blessed to have an earthly father who is also my spiritual parent. My dad led me to saving faith in Christ as a boy. But my spiritual interaction with my dad did not stop. My dad was an excellent spiritual role model. Each day, as I grew up, my dad would have devotions with me and pray with me before I went to school. Then my dad introduced me to Scripture memorization. I was motivated to continue memorizing Scripture as a way of earning a nice Bible and other incentives. I did not as highly value what he was doing with me as a boy, but, I so treasure it now. My relationships with my family and the men I disciple are so much better because of my dad and other believers’ investments in me.
How can we develop intimacy with God?
- Read God’s word daily.
- Respond to God in prayer, by reflecting on what you read.
- Be in relationship with other believers who can spur you on.
- Memorize scripture.
Let me encourage you to put these biblical ingredients to the test. God will bless you as you do this. If your ministry has not been fruitful, return to the list above, read and repeat. The proof is in John 15:16. “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you.”
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