40 Days of Prayer 2024: Day 29

Today is Day 29, and our fourth day 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)

Levels of intimacy in relationships

As I have been reading my Bible during this focus on community, I’ve been noticing the different levels of intimacy Jesus has with others: the 3, the 12, and the 72. In Luke 10:1-12, Jesus sends out the 72. We know the 12 disciples Jesus called to walk with Him daily. And we see inside the 12, Jesus spending time with Peter, James, and John apart from the group. These three, for example, were the only ones present during His transfiguration.

I’ve seen these different groupings used as a recommended model for discipleship and church leadership. I’ve seen them used as challenges for us to strive to be in the “inner circle” of Jesus. But when I look at Jesus and His earthly relationships, I like looking at them through the lens of relationship. We don’t actually disciple others. We are all disciples of Jesus directly. And we don’t have to strive to be in the inner circle of Jesus—we are already there. The Holy Spirit is with us always.  Jesus told His disciples this was even better than having Him with them physically.

John 16:7:

But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.

We have the indwelling Spirit of God. We don’t need to fight for time with Jesus! Instead, we’ll look at the different levels of closeness Jesus with different groups, and see how that helps us in our relationships with others. We all have various levels of intimacy and friendship in our community as well.

Similar to the 72 of Jesus, we will have larger groups of people from our churches, workplaces, and neighborhoods. Like the 12, we may have smaller groups of closer relationships. And, we may have a couple of closer, deeper friendships, as we see with Peter, James, and John with Jesus. We can see how the smaller the groupings, the larger the opportunity for close relationships. We aren’t designed to be in close relationships with hundreds or even multiple tens of people.

This is why large churches will have “small groups”. They know that no relationships are being fostered in such a large group. It’s easy to be anonymous in a large crowd. So the church helps form groups of ten or so people who meet weekly for fellowship, Bible study, and prayer. We can be in a more intimate fellowship with that many people easily, but beyond that, relationships tend to be increasingly superficial. You may notice even in groups of 20 or more there will often be smaller sub-groups naturally form within it so that people can bond together.

Paying attention to these groupings is helpful when we consider what it takes to grow in Christian fellowship. There may be a few people you trust enough to share your deepest moments. Then, a small group of people you can share your lives and hearts with. And the larger community in our local churches that allows us to worship, learn, and fellowship together. Each group is important, giving us different kinds of support and opportunities to grow in Christ together.

We each have a God-given desire to be known. We were made to grow in fellowship with other believers and with the Holy Spirit. The different levels of intimacy we see in the life of Jesus give us a helpful model for our lives today.

Reflection for prayer and/or journaling:

Consider the community you have in your life, the larger communities, the smaller closer groups, and then those closest to you. Are any lacking? What would it look like to have these different levels in your life?

Action steps:

What might the Lord be calling you to change or adjust in order to have these levels of community? Are there any mindset shifts you need to make? Are there changes you can make in your week or in your priorities to create room for relationships? Is there anyone you need to forgive? Is there anyone you need to ask forgiveness from?

Pray together:

Father, we seek your heart for us in community. Give us the courage to open up to others, and share our hearts and our lives with those you’ve given us. Give us your heart for others in all levels of community around us. In the name of Jesus, amen.

♥ Samantha