My Story of discipleship begins in 1997 when I came back to the church. For the majority of my Christian life, I haven’t had a personal discipleship plan. Í knew what I was supposed to do, read my bible and pray every day. I called myself a Disciple of Jesus” because it was what I wanted to be, but not how I lived.
I tried everything except actually listening to Christ. It was easier to read books, listen to Christian music, attend every conference I could find, and even go to college to become a pastor. But, I never actually let Jesus into my life. If I did, he would know exactly who I was and I didn’t want that. So I thought, if I could just learn more about God I would become some sort of saint or at least a better person.
In 2014, I got to the point where I was fed up with the church. I watched people do things that I didn’t agree with and I did things I didn’t agree with. I just wanted to change so my family and I started looking for other church options. We eventually landed in the Orthodox Church.
Surely, a church with roots in the desert fathers had to be the place I could grow and start a new chapter in my story of discipleship. The problem was and is…no matter where I go, there I am. I wanted to read about being a disciple, not actually be a disciple. Which, in the conversations I have had with other people, is what many of us want.
I Started Slowly
After a couple of years of floundering, I began anew. Luckily in the Orthodox Church, we have a series of prayers to usher us into the presence of God called The Trisagion (tri-Sigh-on) Prayers. I started each morning by lighting a candle and just praying this short prayer every day. That is 3 minutes max. I started with the classic My Orthodox Prayer Book but I now use the Ancient Faith Prayer Book which is published by Ancient Faith publishers. (Affiliate Links) Just by starting, I was adding to my story of discipleship because it wasn’t long before I was adding prayers to my routine.
As I opened up a little, I began to add prayers from outside the book to my daily routine (Rule of prayer). Which is one of the aspects of Orthodox prayer that makes it easier… for me. Orthodoxy has 2000 years of men and women crying out to God and writing their prayer down. If I want to have a peaceful day, I can pray the prayer of Saint Philaret of Moscow because that is what I want my day to look like. As a protestant I would pray, “God help me to have a good day.” and then not do it. From Metropolitan Philaret I can learn what a good day really looks like.
I would love to tell you that I pray all the prayers in the morning section of the Ancient Faith prayer book every day but I don’t. I skip the Psalms regularly and I land here and there sometimes, but I get about 10 minutes in. I do spend time praying for the people in my life and for the needs of people I know of. Not perfect but still moving forward.
The Bible in My Story of Discipleship
Bible Study took a little longer. This is where a lot of my earlier hang-ups lied. Bible study for me was a weapon. I had to be able to defend my version of Christianity and show anyone where their errors were. Today I read a chapter and find what I need to work on that day or week or month. I learn from Christ and the writers of the bible about how I need to live. This month’s focus is 1st John studying Love. Which is one of the commandments Jesus gave us, and the reason I don’t argue Christianity with anyone anymore.
Let’s be honest. For most Christians, they know what their pastor or priest tells them is in the bible. If we truly want to become disciples of Jesus we have to read the bible for ourselves and let the power of Christ change us.