I know many people have “one word” they are focusing on for the year. While I have not been entirely focused on this concept, I have felt God calling me to a specific area of focus this year. For me, that word is obedience.
Obedience: to follow. No matter what.
Yes, I made up that definition. But truly, I feel like God has been reminding me in ways, big and small, my only job is to follow him. To be obedient.
We know we’re supposed to obey God, right? I mean, it sounds simple. And it’s all over the Bible, the command to obey.
Here are some examples in God’s word (emphasis is mine):
“Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22
“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My father will love them and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23
“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” 1 John 1:6
So what does this look like in real life? Just because it’s stated over and over again doesn’t mean it’s easy to actually live out.
For me, God has been speaking in many ways. I could give you lots of ways God has spoken to me about obedience. Today, though, we’ll just go with one. One of the ways it’s been clear I need to be more obedient is in prayer. Let me give you an example:
Have you ever had someone tell you something and asked you to pray for it and then you walk away and realize 3 days later you haven’t spent any time actually praying for that request? I know I have. And I always have the best of intention. Well, in my intent to be obedient this year, I don’t ever want to forget to pray when someone asks me to. When I tell someone I will pray for something, I want keep my commitment to them and to God. I want to be obedient to God’s call to lift up each other in prayer.
Because of this, I’ve stopped saying “I will pray for you” and I’ve started saying “Can I pray for you right now?”
I may have the best of intentions. I may actually do it later. But in order to be obedient to the call of prayer, I’ve started just praying. Right then. Here’s what I’ve found:
*It allows the two of us praying together to share a moment that neither of us would have if we would have prayed separately.
*It often gives immediate peace to the person being prayed over.
* It means I really DO pray for whatever focus needs my prayers and I don’t get swept away in the rest of the day’s task.
*Later in the day, it actually brings that moment to my mind and makes me more likely to pray for the event in the future, even days beyond the initial prayers.
This works with kids, with friends, with fellow ministry volunteers. What I’ve found is that most people really appreciate being prayed over, right then and there. In fact, no one (that I already knew to be a believer) has ever told me no.
So I encourage you: stop telling people you’ll pray for them and start praying WITH them. I think you’ll find we are a more connected body of Christ and we’ll be more connected TO Christ.