Praying in Discipling Relationships among Sisters

Article
06.21.2016

“I’ll pray for you!”

We often throw out this platitude to friends, but how often do we follow through with praying for them? As I consider my relationships in the church, I long to be a sister in Christ who is committed to prayer. If we define Discipling as “deliberately doing spiritual good to someone so that he or she will be more like Christ,” then certainly prayer plays a critical role in our discipling relationships. So, as we influence and disciple women, we would be wise to consider how to incorporate prayer in our daily interactions.

COMMIT TO PRAYING IN YOUR DISCIPLING RELATIONSHIPS

What sets your Christian relationships apart from other friendships? I have plenty of non-Christian friends who are “thinking of me” and “sending good vibes my way,” but what’s most valuable in my life are those women whom I know are committed to praying for me. I long to be that type of friend in my own discipling relationships within the church.

In our church covenant, every member of my church makes a commitment to “walk together in Christian love, exercising an affectionate care for and watchfulness over one another . . . praying for one another.” This means that, before the Lord, it’s our duty to pray for one another, especially for those we’re discipling.

Christian fellowship isn’t simply “hanging out with other Christians”—and discipling isn’t just talking and listening. When we disciple others, we have the privilege of helping them follow Jesus, and two critical tools in doing that are God’s Word and prayer. Without this powerful pair, I’m no more than a listening ear, and any spiritual influence I have will be minimal. In fact, I’ve left many meetings wondering if anything I’d said was helpful. But I have never questioned that when our meeting involved prayer and studying the Scriptures. My words and advice may at times be insufficient, but approaching the throne of God on behalf of one another will always be a success.

PRAY THE BIBLE

Praying God’s Word is a powerful tool in our fight for holiness. When our hearts are prone to wander, and we’re tempted to follow our emotions, it’s a gift to have a fellow Christian willing to pray Scripture with you. There have been plenty of times when I don’t know exactly how to pray for someone, but thankfully Scripture is sufficient. Sometimes, the best way to begin is to cry out “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you!” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

HELPFUL REMINDERS

As we pray for sisters in Christ, here are some helpful reminders:

1. Pray God’s attributes.

Remind one another often of who God is; praise him for being sovereign, unchanging, holy, all-knowing, etc.

2. Pray the promises of the gospel.

Remember God’s precious gift of salvation through Christ. We have an incorruptible inheritance kept in heaven for us, and God remembers our transgressions no more. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.

3. As you pray, keep in mind who God has called us to be in Christ.

We are prone to forget that we are children, chosen, redeemed, and forgiven.

4. Pray through specific passages for that person.

Open that concordance and let God’s living and active Word speak! The epistles are a great place to turn to pray for one another.

In discipling others, I might call someone to turn from sin, but greater brokenness comes when we pray Colossians 3 together. I can speak words of comfort to someone struggling with anxiety, but praying 1 Peter 5:6­–7 usually brings more comfort. When a friend is questioning if God’s plan for her life is good, Romans 8 speaks an invaluable word.

As we pray prayers of praise and thankfulness, as we cry out for provision and mercy, filling our words with Scripture grounds our hearts in truth and draws us to deeper faith in Christ.

PRAY FOR UNITY AND FOR LOVE

It’s no surprise that we grow in Christian love for those we pray for. Even in the closest of Christian communities, we can find ourselves dealing with comparison and envy. It’s easy to walk into church, look around at other women, and believe the lies we tell ourselves—their lives must be free from struggle, their marriages and families must be perfect, they surely can’t relate to me.

But as we disciple and are discipled by others, we’re reminded we’re not the only ones who struggle with fear and anxiety, get impatient with our children, or doubt the goodness of God.

When we invest in the lives of fellow church members and commit to pray for them, we’ll grow in our unity. Prayer breaks down the walls of insecurity and fear and allows us to link arms with fellow Christians as we strive together to follow Jesus.

A few years back, a woman I’d just met shared about a situation where she was struggling to trust God’s plan for her. Her willingness to share openly helped me to pray for her, and praying for her caused me to love her, even though I didn’t really know her!

While it’s true you pray for those you love, it’s also true you grow in love for those you pray for.

PRAY WHEN IT’S INCONVENIENT

Prayer doesn’t have to be long or perfectly planned. It can be noisy, interrupted, with children all around. I’ll never forget meeting with a mentor years ago when I had no children and she had three. I’d just gone to run errands with her and chat about life. As we pulled into her driveway she said, “Let’s just pray here in the car before we go in to all the chaos.”

As we began to pray, a basketball bounced against her window. She rolled down the window and informed the ball-bouncer: “I am praying and will be finished in just a minute.” Then she rolled the window right back up as we finished praying.

Her example has stuck with me. I often wrongly think discipling has to take place with Bibles open and lots of quiet time committed to prayer. But this isn’t most people’s reality.

Here are some practical suggestions to incorporate prayer in your discipling relationships:

  • Pray while walking
  • Pray in the car after lunch or coffee
  • Pray on the phone as they drive home
  • Make sure to ask how you can be praying for them throughout the week
  • Be vulnerable enough to ask for prayer for yourself
  • Text a friend to let them know how you are praying for them

JUST PRAY!

I so often leave my time with sisters in Christ wishing I’d prayed with or for them. Praying is not always easy, and it’s not always convenient or practical. It is, however, always good, and we’ll always be blessed by doing it.

So, as we meet together as women—sharing about our marriages, our parenting, and our spiritual struggles—let’s commit to praying for one another. Let’s leave our time together, confident we’ve done intentional spiritual good to one another.