Do you feel a little left out because you can’t be directly involved in the command to make disciples?
Many of us can’t go to a Tuesday-night outreach or serve in Vacation Bible School. A devastating illness, an over-demanding job, or other unwanted circumstances keep us from serving God outside our homes.
Although we can sometimes make changes to our schedule, and busyness should never keep us from sharing the gospel, some people simply cannot be involved in evangelism and discipleship the way they’d like.
But even if you’re stuck on the sidelines, you have a secret discipleship tool at your disposal.
WORKING ON THE SIDELINES
A few weeks ago, I had the amazing privilege to join a medical team traveling to Honduras to help with the physical, and ultimately spiritual, needs of a small community. My husband is a doctor, I’m a teacher and stay at home with my children. Although I am very proud of my “mom” role, I felt completely unqualified on this trip. There were ER nurses, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, even an ophthalmologist.
My background is not in medicine, but I was going along to help any way I could. God allowed me to join the vision team. I learned how to look for the correct prescription glasses and even learned a few words in Spanish, like claro, which means “clear.”
Although I wasn’t on the medical side of our clinic, I thought of them often. Whenever I was busy searching through boxes, I would say quick prayers for my husband, that he would stay safe and be wise when dealing with patients.
My husband Jason has been on several missions trips. Usually my job is to keep the house running smooth. There have been times I’ve felt completely out of the loop and unimportant because my job doesn’t take me into the “thick of things.” Instead, I’m on the sidelines, feeling a little useless.
WAS PAUL USELESS IN PRISON?
When I feel discouraged, I go to Philippians and Ephesians. Paul, a great man of God who battled with words in front of kings and governors, wrote these letters while sitting alone in prison. Those he mentions in the letters are on the frontlines of battle with the enemy. They are facing persecution. Their lives are in danger. Yet they fight the good fight, winning souls for the kingdom. Paul used to stand beside them as they shared the gospel.
Now Paul is alone, maybe feeling a little empty, but not useless. Paul does not see his chains as confinement, but as being right where God has him. Paul still has a purpose, even in prison. He not only witnesses on Jesus’ behalf to his guards, he uses his time to write letters.
Motherhood can feel like a prison every once in a while. I can feel like Paul, out of the loop. There are Christians standing in the gap and witnessing to leper colonies, going into Muslim nations, facing government persecution in China. But here I am in Starbucks, drinking my coffee and wondering, How can I be of any use?
YOUR SECRET DISCIPLESHIP TOOL
Paul is my example. He employed a secret discipleship tool, one that you and I have access to, as well. Paul’s secret tool? Prayer.
Listen to Paul’s prayers in Philippians and Ephesians:
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength. —Eph. 1:17-19
And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. —Phil. 1:9-11
Do you notice a theme? Paul is not praying for the church’s physical state; he prays for their spiritual well-being. Even far away, Paul is discipling them through the power of prayer!
Prayer is the secret discipleship tool we already own. I say “secret” because no one sees us pray for them. The world will never know the hours my grandmother spent on her knees praying for her family. When she passed away, we all felt the void because her prayers this side of heaven were missing.
Prayer is something we already have. If you don’t know how to pray, just look to Paul’s prayers. In these few verses, we find a perfect script to pray for others! Look again at what Paul prays for the churches: He prays for their love, knowledge of Christ, power in the Spirit, and wisdom to discern the best choices.
Paul makes sure to pray for their spiritual walk, but his prayers also show them how to walk as Christians. Sounds like discipleship!
THE POWER OF PRAYER
Being on the sidelines might seem less important, but those of us there have the vital task of praying as we stand to the side for a season. No, many of us are not on the mission field or even able to serve in church sometimes. Yet God is calling us all to lift up our voices to in prayer for one another, especially for our fellow believers who are serving.
We find the power of prayer at work in our fight against the enemy (Eph. 6:18), restoration between believers (1 John 5:15), when we receive hope in our despair (Eph. 1:18), in healing (Jas. 5:13), for spiritual strength (Matt. 26:41), and protection (John 17:15).
WHO CAN YOU PRAY FOR TODAY?
Just this morning I sent a message to friend. I knew their family had gone through some really hard things last summer. She doesn’t post anything on social media unless it’s positive. However, I know from experience that behind the filters and joyful captions the enemy is at work. She messaged back and told me something specific I could pray about. You better believe I’ll be praying.
Who can you pray for? Pick someone you can text, email, or call today and ask how you can pray for them specifically. As you pray, remember that you are involved in the powerful work of discipleship.
Let’s work for God together and obey Paul's command to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer” (Rom. 12:12).
Sarah Frazer is a writer and Bible study mentor at sarahefrazer.com. She is the wife of Jason and mother of five. She serves in her local church and holds in-home Bible studies. She and her husband are on deputation to become full-time missionaries to Honduras. Sarah is also an author of three self-published Bible studies for women. She shares tools for deep-rooted Bible study at sarahefrazer.com.