Editors note: The purpose of this series is to help our readers think through what discipleship is and how to embrace the Cross of Christ in all of life.
- Dave looked at learning the key to true contentment and joy in the Lord.
- Nick wrote on the three spiritual stages of a believer’s life.
- Dave wrote on the cross of Christ displayed in discipleship.
- Mathew Sims wrote on five integral reasons mature disciples of Christ need sleep.
- Dave wrote on the glory of the Cross displayed in daily following Christ in everyday life.
- Matt Perman wrote on Jesus’ absolute call to discipleship.
- Dave wrote on the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit in daily Bible reading and discipleship.
- Dave wrote on three beliefs you must have to grow a healthy praying church.
- Today Dave writes on faithfulness, focus, and fruit.
I’m in the unique position where I have a lot of people who ask how they can pray for them. I also make an effort to ask people how I can pray for them. In the past two years, I’ve made it more of a practice to pray with people right on the spot rather than wait till later privately to pray for them. People always appreciate that and it’s also an intentional, and purposeful way to show that you care for them. When people ask me how they can pray for me, I always tell them, “Faithfulness, Focus, and Fruitfulness.” These three things to me encapsulate what it means to be a Christian and so I want people to pray for me that I would be faithful to Him, focused on Him, and fruitful for His glory.
God calls His people to be faithful since He is always faithful to them (Hebrews 13:5). Furthermore, one day God’s people should desire to hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21; 23) since He is the One who empowers our work, and all work is to be done to and for His glory.
At various points in my day, like you, I can get distracted. The things of life seem to crowd out everything I need to do during the day. I’m sure you can relate. It might be your job, a family situation, etc. By praying for focus, I’m praying for God to lead me where He has need of me during the day. That means my schedule might go out the window for that day. I’ve learned to be okay with that. At various times throughout your week you might have a great deal of things to do on your list at work and at home. Pray for God though to lead you to where He has need of you.
The day I wrote the initial draft of this article I had to practice what I’m writing about here. I was called away from writing to help out with a friend from church who needed a ride. Later, I told my wife about how I was working on writing this article on “Faithfulness, Focus, and Fruitfulness” and how I wrote that we need to be led by the Lord in the midst of our daily lives and focus on Him, rather than on our to-do list every day. My wife laughed and commented that it was good that I was practicing what I was preaching. To me, focus is critical. As I’ve mentioned it’s so easy to get distracted. We need to focus on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.
By praying for focus, I’m praying that God will give me the focus that I need to get done what I need to get done for the day. I’m praying for His will to be my focus while also praying for Him to help me with the tasks that need to be done.
Someone calls and needs me to come and help them. Other times no calls and I’m able to get through my to-do list. Still there are other times when my to-do list is such that I can’t go and meet with anyone and must focus on the work I have to do on my to-do list. There is a balance here, but I ask for prayer for focus because I need to be most focused on God in my work and not on myself. I know if I’m focused only on myself, I am only going to get done what I need to get done and never focus on where the Lord might have need of me. This is why I pray for divine focus on God throughout the day for His will to be done in and through my life.
The last thing I ask for prayer for is for fruitfulness. One of the results of working hard is enjoying the hard work we’ve done for His glory. The end result of our work is that we will produce either godly fruit or ungodly fruit. This is where our motivation comes in. Our motivation for our work should be the glory of God, not for the kingdom of self to increase.
It’s very tricky when talking about fruit and knowing when to assess whether we’re bearing godly fruit or ungodly fruit. At the end of the day, I’m convinced that godly or ungodly fruit will be produced depending on our motives. If my motive for going to my neighbor to share the gospel is to shame him rather than tell Him about the One who bore our shame and guilt upon the cross then that tells me my motives and likely this person will be able to tell them as well. I’ll likely, in this case, bear ungodly fruit not to mention, not be patient with this person when they reject me. If my motive is the opposite; if I go to my neighbor with the love of Jesus to share the gospel of God’s grace through the person and work of Jesus Christ, then likely that conversation will bear godly fruit. At least my motives in such a case will be pure. The same is true for how we work at our jobs, or whether we’re ministering to someone. Godly fruit comes from a heart centered on God and motivated by a passion for spreading His glory. Godly fruit comes not from impure motives but from a heart saturated in the purity of Christ.
This is why when people ask me to pray for me, I ask them to pray for faithfulness, focus, and faithfulness. You and I need to be faithful to bloom where we have been planted. We need prayer for focus so that we’re not distracted by all that is going around us, but ultimately are yielded to the will of God for where He wants to take us that day. With that said we also have a great need to pray for fruit. Charles Spurgeon said, “If you do not pray over what you have own, you have no right to expect a blessing.” This is why I ask for prayer for fruit because all good and godly fruit is a result of the Spirit working in and through me.