“There is no more significant involvement in another’s life than prevailing, consistent prayer. It is more helpful than the gift of money, more encouraging than a strong sermon, more effective than a compliment, more reassuring than a physical embrace.” – Chuck Swindoll
By Jim Feiker and Steve Meeker — Relational discipleship begins with intercession for those whom we have the privilege to step alongside. To understand prayer’s importance in discipleship, let’s look at how Moses and Jesus modeled prayer, especially in times of battle.
Moses believed in intercession and modeled it for Joshua (Exodus 17:8-15)
In the face of battle with the Amalekites, Moses appointed Joshua as the military commander to lead Israel in a counterattack. This was Joshua’s first act in battle as a leader and was foundational in preparing him for his future leadership role. Israel also lacked experience; now was the time for Joshua and the newly delivered nation to learn firsthand to trust God in the face of opposition.
After choosing a select band of warriors and discerning the best plan of attack, Moses assured Joshua that all the resources he needed would be provided and that Joshua would emerge victorious.
How would Moses support this young leader? He knew the most effective way to back his successor was to engage in intercession. Moses’ experience with God gave him confidence that victory in battle was not achieved by numbers, past accomplishments, knowledge about God, or even giftedness and skills in battle. He knew Joshua needed to learn that victory in battle is God’s responsibility, and it is won through intercession.
Moses, Hur and Aaron journeyed to the top of a hill overlooking the battleground and focused their energies on intercession. It was a joint partnership in conflict, with each member playing an important role. However, the ultimate battle was not won on the field; it was won on the hill in prayer.
Jesus believed in intercession and modeled it to Peter (Luke 22:31-32)
Another battle was about to ensue, this time in Peter’s life. Jesus, knowing his follower completely, was keenly aware that Satan wanted Peter’s faith to fail. Jesus warned Peter: Satan desired to sift him as wheat, “but I have prayed for you, that your faith would not fail.”
Young potential leaders are always high on Satan’s radar. In this conflict Jesus knew the coming assault would lead to Peter’s failure — but his intercession protected the faith of his follower.
Peter denied knowing his Lord, which marked his life with brokenness and failure, but the experience was tailored by God in his love to reshape Peter’s heart and prepare him to be a humble leader.
Prayer was not only a part of Jesus’ life and what he modeled, it was his life! Victory for Peter was won because Jesus knows how heaven works, and he engaged in what was most important — intercession for the faith of his beloved disciple.
When entering into a discipleship relationship, it is paramount that we remember to pray. Teach us to pray, Jesus, so that we may step alongside those you bring into our spheres of influence as we obey your commands to love others as you have loved us.
Steve Meeker runs Leadership Lab International in Croatia. LLI believes no young leader should be thrust into ministry without being mentored and trained. LLI prepares a new generation of leaders to serve on multicultural ministry and church-planting teams through its summer study abroad program. Learn about LLI on its web site.
Jim Feiker was Steve’s mentor. He wrote that though the relational discipleship model can be difficult for others to understand and measure, those who experience it not only value it, but their lives are changed forever.
- Read the first article in this series — Relational discipleship: Hard to measure but worth every moment
- Read the second article in this series — Relational discipleship: Invisible but powerful
You can help LLI reopen this summer
The young people who go through LLI come away changed. In testimony after testimony, they cite the power of a summer spent in relational discipleship and practical ministry. Like Johann, who said, “When I first came to LLI, I had two questions in mind: What does God want me to do? And how do I do that effectively? Those two questions were answered.” Or Amy, who said, “It was refreshing to not only be instructed on how to lead in a practical way, but to also have a clearly defined example before me. We watched our mentors depend fully on God for everything that they needed. … I envy anyone who has the chance to experience this program in the future.”
A new law in Croatia means that the LLI facility needs $50,000 worth of renovations in order to open in time for this summer’s session. God has already provided the first $10,000, which allowed LLI to begin the demolition phase (pictured above). Please prayerfully consider whether you can be part of how he provides the remaining $40,000, so that more young people like Amy and Johann can be prepared for cross-cultural ministry. Click here to give or to learn more.
Be disciples. Make disciples. Let’s do both, together.
- SEND International’s internship programs, like Leadership Lab International in Croatia, include both practical outreach and personal growth through discipling relationships. We also offer discipleship-focused internships in East Asia, Japan, Ukraine, Southeast Asia, Spain, Macedonia and New York City. Find one that suits your interests.
- SEND offers more than 200 opportunities to make disciples around the world. Explore them here.
- You can use this set of resources and stories to grow in your own discipleship and to disciple others, whether at home or overseas.
- Sign up for On Mission, SEND’s monthly guide for people who want to become missionaries. Subscribe here, and as a welcome gift, you will receive a free download of a world map that highlights today’s unreached people groups. Together, we can bring them Good News. We can’t wait to join you on the journey!