Will you be my friend?
Will you go out with me?
Will you marry me?
Will you go into business with me?
Will you take a trip with me?
There are many questions that a person will find themselves saying yes to but, here’s another key question…
What happens after yes?
Usually, following ‘yes’, there’s some kind of action. Yes alone doesn’t matter if it is not accompanied by the action the ‘yes’ alluded to.
What have followers of Jesus said yes to?
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.
Saying ‘Yes’ to Jesus
It seems to me that those of us who have said ‘yes’ to following Jesus are left with two realities, amongst others. We’re called to ‘fish for people’ and we’re called to ‘deny ourselves and follow Jesus.’
So, how do we live an active faith in a complex world?
Welcome to Part 1 in a series called ‘B.L.E.S.S. – Engaging the world around us.’ This series draws heavily on the book “B.L.E.S.S. – 5 Everyday ways to love your neighbour and change the world” by Dave & John Ferguson. This book outlines five ways to ‘bless’ those around us.
Begin with prayer
It’s not a silver bullet but it is a very practical starting point.
For the purpose of the rest of this post I am going to pick up the first letter of B.L.E.S.S. and explore a little more of what that looks like and why it is, in fact, the appropriate starting point.
B.L.E.S.S. – Begin with Prayer. Why?
Quite simply, prayer was regularly the starting point for Jesus.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles
Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
Matt 14:23-24 (before walking on water)
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Paul also saw prayer as of first importance
1 Timothy 2:1-4
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Giving attention in a distracted world
“What gets our attention determines our direction and, ultimately, our destination. Or, if you would prefer the short version: attention determines direction.” Andy Stanley
Regularly praying for people brings them to your attention.
Prayer also changes us
“I cannot change the world. You cannot change the world. Even prayer alone doesn’t change the world. Only God can change the world! However, God uses prayer to change us, and then God uses us to change our world.” – Dave Ferguson
Prayer will bring attention to what needs your attention
Prayer is not the starting point flippantly, or because it is easy, but because everything else flows from it.
A resource I’ve found useful is a ‘prayer map’. You might like to try it to help focus your own prayer times for the people in your life.
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™