40 Days of Prayer 2024: Day 28

Today, we are on Day 28, and on day three focusing on the practice of Community with Jesus.

(You can catch up on Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 15, Day 17, Day 18, Day 19, Day 20, Day 21, Day 22, Day 23, Day 24, Day 25, Day 26, Day 27 if you missed them)

The goal of true community is fostering connection and fellowship, encouragment and support from others walking the same road together. It’s through participation in community that we grow and mature in wisdom. And there is no better place to practice forgiveness and love than in a group following Jesus together. We cannot get any of these by walking with God alone. In community, we take what we have received from our time with God in solitude and bring it to others. We take love, forgiveness, peace, and patience we find in God, and we give them to others.

Love one another

In the New Testament, we find numerous admonitions on how Christians are supposed to treat one another. So many that the shorthand has become the one-anothers. There are over 50 that I have counted, and we could spend our whole lives practicing just these one anothers.  In the spirit of the eight practices we’re focusing on for these 40 days, here are eight:

  • Love one another (John 13:34 and many, many others),
  • serve one another (Galatians 5:13),
  • gently, patiently tolerate one another (Ephesians 4:2),
  • confess your sins to one another (James 5:16),
  • be subject to one another (Eph 5:21),
  • bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2),
  • pray for one another (James 5:16)
  • encourage and build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

The way we should treat each other is often far removed from our experiences. People are messy, and as I said before, our rough edges bump against the rough edges of the others and it’s often painful and difficult. But what if we turned that idea around? What if we saw each other as agents of transformation in our lives? What if we saw each other as divine opportunity givers to help us walk out our faith?

If we truly believe we are wholly and completely loved and accepted by God and that we can do nothing to earn or lose His love, what do we have to lose by opening ourselves up to others in community? Our pride? Our false selves and the masks we put on to be accepted? If we are trying to become like Jesus we should welcome those, not avoid them. Courage over comfort has been a rallying cry of mine since Jack went Home to be with Jesus. I realized the Lord doesn’t really care much about how comfortable I am, because He is after my transformation, not my comfort. And growth is usually on the other side of our comfort zone.

To experience true community, we have to be willing to get uncomfortable. We have to be willing to love and serve like Jesus, putting others above ourselves. And a lot of us are good at doing things for others. We can bring a meal or shovel a driveway. Our churches are really good at those things that feel helpful but also keep us at an arm’s length away from the hurting hearts of others.

Can we sit with them and just be with them? With the epidemic of loneliness, I guarantee there are people you know who need it. Can we sit with someone grieving without trying to change their feelings? Can we grieve with them? Can we sit and offer the ministry of just our presence? Even though it’s uncomfortable, and we want to say something to cheer them up or take away their pain, we need to practice truly seeing others. It’s what we all need. We live most of our lives on the surface, but our hearts are made for the depths.

Reflection for prayer and/or journaling:

Today, as you enter your weekend routines, consider what type of community your heart longs for. How can you be that type of community for someone else, or a group of others?

Action steps:

Look at the list of eight one anothers above and choose one to focus on first. You could also go through the Bible searching for all the one anothers and see how we are supposed to treat each other.

Pray together:

Father, we see so much lacking in how we experience community today. Give us a vision for true fellowship with others in Christ, and the passion to live the one anothers you’ve given us. Bring to mind someone we can love or serve or encourage this week. Help us love those around us as you have loved us. In the name of Jesus, amen.

♥ Samantha