A Christian must surrender to the lordship of Christ – part 7

Surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus requires intentional spiritual practices

The fourth pillar mentioned in Acts 2:42 is prayer.  Prayer is not a last resort.  Rather, the weight of the finished project is equally distributed over each pillar.  Prayer alone will not surrender one to the Lordship of Jesus; there are other spiritual practices that are critical ingredients as an individual learns complete surrender to Jesus.  Donald Whitney in his book, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life”, says, “disciplines (or practices) are the God-given means we are to use in the Spirit-filled pursuit of Godliness.”[1]

As we pursue authentic transformation and complete surrender to Jesus Christ, we need a holistic and balanced approach to our spiritual practices.  Donald Whitney spends his energy focusing his writing on “bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, service, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling and learning.”[2]  The picture shown was created for a series in 2005 and lists, according to Donald Whitney, some of the essential spiritual practices.  A few of those practices will be emphasized in the next paragraphs; however, a lack of emphasis does not mean to remove value from that practice.  Each spiritual practice will push an individual to complete surrender to Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:42 specifically mentions prayer, so we will begin with this practice.  Jesus modeled prayer for Christ-followers well.  We find moments throughout the gospels when Jesus retreated for the purpose of prayer.  A frequently used account of Jesus spending time in prayer is found in Matthew 26 at the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus is preparing himself to be crucified and asks the Father if there is another way to fulfill his mission.  Many Christians tend to take that verse and use prayer as a last resort when hardship is coming their direction.  There are times we engage in last resort prayer, because “we doubt anything will actually happen if we pray.”[3]  There are times we abandon prayer altogether and fight with our resources.  Ephesians 6 suggests this is a very dangerous concept because our battle is in the spiritual realm.

As we pursue complete surrender, we should strive for a balance of prayer in our lives.  We read many passages that point to Jesus being alone, either in the morning or evening, because he embraced the importance of recharging his spiritual balance.  As we pursue authentic transformation and complete surrender, we must learn to value prayer as Jesus did because it is an important piece of the puzzle.  Prayer should not be used as a last resort, rather we should consider 1 Thessalonians 5:17 as it says to pray continually.  Authentic transformation allows us to treat prayer with the same conditions as oxygen and water.  Our bodies need both of those elements for long-term sustainability.

A second spiritual practice is bible intake.  We have already discussed spiritual nutrition; however, we have not discussed the memorization aspect of bible intake.  Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus quoting the Old Testament.  Jesus had a balanced diet of the Bible.  Israel did not have mass-produced copies of Scripture as we do today, which gave a higher priority to memorizing Scripture.  The Jewish education system did well at prioritizing memorization. There are many sources that describe how repetition of Scripture was emphasized as key to the learning experience.  For more information about the Jewish education process, a great source is http://followtherabbi.com/guide/detail/rabbi-and-talmidim.

There are many Scriptures that instruct Christ-followers to either meditate or memorize His Word.  A favorite verse for many people is Psalm 119:11, which reads, “I have stored up your word in my heart, which I might not sin against you.”  Joshua 1 tells us that meditating on the Law day and night will allow us to obey all that it commands.  The written Word of God is one of the ways that God speaks to his church today.  It is essential for Christians to pause long enough to listen to what God has to say, especially when we choose to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

A third spiritual practice that should be explored by Christ-followers is the practice of silence and solitude.  A number of authors categorize silence and solitude as separate practices; however, silence and solitude match together in comparison to peanut butter and jelly.  A helpful resource in learning spiritual practices is, “Sacred Rhythms” by Ruth Haley Barton.  She said a few things that solidify the package of silence and solitude.  First, Barton said, “Solitude is a place in time that is set aside for God and God alone, a time when we unplug and withdraw from the noise of interactions of all kinds.[4]  Regarding silence, Barton said, silence “deepens our experience of solitude because in silence we choose to unplug” from stimulation and noise.[5]

As individuals learn to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, silence and solitude should become a regular event on our calendars.  A “first step” in the process of establishing this pattern is spending the morning with a Bible and a notebook simply to listen to God.  Psalm 46:10 tells me to ““be still, and know that I am God.”  The primary goal for silence and solitude during that morning is to be silent before God, so he can speak into our lives.  The practices of silence and solitude will help us completely surrender because God’s plans will transform our plans.  An important measurement of complete surrender is when my calendar has surrendered to God’s calendar.

Authentic transformation and complete surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ takes a higher level when silence and solitude are practiced.  This package of spiritual practices is one that will benefit any person who allows God to invade and engage him through this experience.  Silence and solitude will make our lack of surrender more evident.  Silence and solitude with conform us to be more like Jesus as Romans 12 teaches.

In a culture that widely accepts average as success, local churches need people who dare to live for Jesus above average.  The benefits of reaching beyond mediocrity will overflow from our lives into the lives of others.  We will become Christ-followers who model what complete surrender to Jesus Christ looks like.  The benefits will flow through our dining rooms, bedrooms, boardrooms, and church meeting spaces.  The benefits will flow throughout future generations if we dare to live for Jesus above average.

[1] Whitney, Page 17.

[2] Whitney, page 17.

[3] Whitney, Page 69.

[4]” Barton, page 32.

[5] Barton, page 32.