Phil Miglioratti recently stirred my reflective juices by asking for my perspective on how prayer, evangelism, and discipleship are related.
It's a worthy question, especially for people who are so involved in any particular aspect of ministry that it becomes their primary, almost exclusive, frame of reference. Should prayer, discipleship, and evangelism be separate ministry silos? If so, what are the implications? If not, how would you describe their connection?
Here is my 3-paragraph perspective:
- Context. Prayer, evangelism, and discipleship are parts of a larger context: our relationship with God. True life revolves around Him -- not us. Human beings were created and designed to worship God; that is, to “honor Him in ways that He accepts.” We are most fulfilled and He is most honored when we live and function as designed—as true, vibrant worshipers of God.
- Lifestyle. We "worship" God -- i.e., we honor Him in ways that He accepts -- by loving Him, abiding in Him, and serving Him. Imagine those as 3 concentric circles with loving at the core, abiding next, and serving as the external circle. In general, the 3 circles represent a Christ-follower's heart, head, and hands. ~~~ A core process in producing this lifestyle is our constant cultivation and practice of Christlike character. ~~~ Examples of this concept in the Scriptures include 1 Cor 13, Jn 15, Rom 12, and the entire book of Ephesians. ~~~ Our lifestyle worship is the way we meet Christ’s challenge in Matthew 5:14-16.
- Connection. Prayer is one way we “abide in” Him. Evangelism—with and without speaking evangelistic words—is part of our “serving.” Discipleship includes much of what we mean by “abiding in” (or "walking with" in Ephesians) Him, such as our spiritual disciplines, Bible study, and obedience.