What does it mean to be a Christian?

Person praying in front of a lake

So you decided to follow Jesus … now what?

We all have an idea of what following Jesus should look like. But if we’re honest with ourselves, our views are often influenced by our cultural values, our politics, our background, and what’s currently going on in the world around us. If we were to strip away those outside influences, what would a follower of Jesus actually look like?

Cultures will change and values will shift, but God’s Word will always reveal what it means to be a Christian.

Today, let’s break down three Bible passages that will help us understand how to follow Jesus. These steps aren’t meant to be a complete list, but they’ll give you an overview of what it means to live like Jesus every day.

Love God

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

MATTHEW 22:36-40

This passage is often called “the Great Commandment” because with it, Jesus succinctly sums up the entire Old Testament Law. And Jesus perfectly demonstrated this commandment when He gave up His life for us.

But before continuing, it’s important to point out that this command contains three parts: loving God, loving others, and loving yourself. These actions are tied together, and only possible if we first let God love us. When we accept God’s love for us, we can then love Him in return and let Him change the way we see ourselves. And when we learn to see ourselves through the lens of God’s love, we start to love others like God loves us. So, if we want to obey this command, then we need to follow Jesus’ example, and seek God like Jesus did:

Jesus intentionally spent time alone with His Father, He talked with God regularly, and He placed God’s will before His own desires.

For us, this might look like setting aside a specific time each day when we devote ourselves to studying God’s Word and to prayer. We can take everything to our heavenly Father. We can share our emotions with Him, ask Him to intervene in our circumstances, and even celebrate our victories with Him. We can also ask Him to show us how we can help bring His kingdom to earth. With God, nothing is off-limits—He wants to spend time with us.

When we prioritize spending time with Him, we begin to understand who He is and what He wants for us. This transforms the way we love ourselves and other people.

And one of the easiest ways to learn what loving others looks like is to break down what love is.


Love Others

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

1 CORINTHIANS 13:4-8

This passage is a famous definition of love, but it also defines God because God is love. So, when we wonder if our lives are aligning with God’s character, we can use this passage to gauge our actions:

Since God is patient with us, are we patient? Since God forgives us, do we forgive others? Since God doesn’t hold our mistakes against us, do we let go of grudges?

This doesn’t mean we’ll always get it right, but asking ourselves these questions can help us determine if we’re moving toward God or away from Him.

If our thoughts are continuously prideful, if our words are continuously hurtful, if our actions are continuously self-centered, then we’re probably not following Jesus’ command to love God and others. And if we’re not doing that, we may belong to Jesus—but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are following Jesus.

Thankfully, the more we commit to spending time with Jesus, the more we will start to act like Him.


Make Disciples

“All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of every nation. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to affirm all I’ve commanded you —and I’ll be with you till the end of the age.”

MATTHEW 28:18-20

As Jesus ascended into heaven, He told His followers to disciple others. The original Greek word that’s translated as “make disciples” is matheteuo, which means “to train.”

Jesus isn’t saying, “go and force people to become disciples.” He’s saying, “as you are going about your lives, train and teach people to follow me, just as I have taught you to follow me.”

This might look like developing a relationship with the barista who makes your coffee. It could mean buying someone a meal and letting them know they’re valued. Or, it might look like taking care of your kids and treating them with love and affection.

Whoever God places in front of you, show them what it means to follow Jesus. And in every situation, let your actions be influenced by your love for God and for others.

Which of these steps do you need to focus on this week? Pick one, and ask God to show you how to apply it to your daily life.

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How To Pray for Your Family

Family Week

This week, we shared resources for your family that we hope encouraged and inspired you. But this is only the beginning. As you continue to faithfully show up and show love, God will do infinitely more in your family than all that you can ask, hope, or imagine.

To help encourage you as you continue to lead your family, we’ve created four prayers for families. Pick a prayer that relates to your situation, pray it over your relationships, and save it to your Prayer List in the Bible App.

Pray now:

A Prayer for Families with Young Children

God, children are a gift from You, but raising them is still hard. So when I feel exhausted and weary, please remind me that You are with me. And when I feel overwhelmed, please give me the strength to endure every situation I face. You have called me to parenthood, so please protect my family, and help me to raise my children well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Save to Prayer List

A Prayer for Families with Teenagers

God, show me how to love my teenagers the way You do. As they start to become more independent, give me discernment. And as they navigate big emotions, help me to be sensitive to their feelings and wise with my responses. Shape them into the people You’ve created them to be and, as You do that, please guard their hearts. Let their identity remain rooted and grounded in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Save to Prayer List

A Prayer for Families with Adult Children

God, give me wisdom when navigating relationships with my adult children. Before I speak, let me first pause and listen to them. And when I want to fix their problems, let me first call out to You. Protect, establish, and help these adults become the people You’ve called them to be. And as You do that, show me how to meet them where they are. I trust You, and I entrust my children to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Save to Prayer List

A Prayer for Blended Families

God, You know exactly what our family needs in order to thrive. You understand how hard it is to combine two families, but You also know how rewarding it can be. As we figure out how to lead this family together, please protect our marriage, and help us create meaningful bonds with all our children. Guide us and protect us, and draw us closer to You—and to each other. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Save to Prayer List

Set Prayer Reminders

Resources for Your Family

Family Week

Every day, you are faced with new opportunities to lead your family spiritually through intentional conversations and activities.

This isn’t always easy, but your commitment to your family’s spiritual growth will have a lasting impact. And as you faithfully pour into the lives of the people you love, we want to pour into you.

Here are some resources we’ve created that you can turn to for encouragement and support.

When you need ideas for
family time…

Family Week

Read Post

When you want to help your family
enjoy God’s Word…

Family Week

Read Post

When you need to speak life
over your family…

Family Week

Read Post

When you need activities to try
with your kids…

Family Week

Read Post

How to Discover God’s Will

Compass

What does God want you to do with your life? Maybe you have an idea of what He is calling you to, but you’d like confirmation. Maybe you’re not sure what God’s will is … or maybe, you’re still trying to figure out what a personal relationship with God should look like.

Ultimately, the only way to know God’s will is by spending time getting to know Him. It’s through drawing near to God that His guidance becomes evident. So, how do we do that?

There isn’t one correct way—but there are steps we can take that help.

Here are 4 steps to help you discover God’s will:

Seek God through Prayer

Think about a recent conversation with a close friend. If you’ve known them for a while, you probably know what they like and dislike without asking because the closer you are to someone, the more you understand them.

The same goes for our relationship with God. Knowing God’s will comes from having honest conversations with Him. That’s why we need to get into the habit of talking to Him regularly, about everything.

Prayer isn’t just about asking God what He wants us to do—it’s about getting to know who God is.

Pray with Us


Search the Scriptures

God’s will for your life will never contradict what is written in Scripture. So as you get to know God through prayer, familiarize yourself with His Word.

The more you study the Bible, the more your desires will begin to reflect God’s will. And when this happens, you can confidently ask God anything—and He will hear you.

If you’re not sure where to start studying, here are a few Bible Plans that can help:


Listen to the Holy Spirit

Listening for the Holy Spirit often requires silencing the noise around you. When you get rid of distractions and stop fixating on fearful feelings, you can start to notice God’s peaceful presence in your present circumstances.

So as you pray and search the Scriptures, ask God to reveal any feelings you need to surrender, and any others you need to give special attention. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through this process, and keep this in mind: you can feel uncertain and still experience God’s peace.

Want to intentionally seek the Holy Spirit?

Try Guided Prayer


Look for confirmation from wise people

The final say on what God’s will is should come from God, but it’s wise to seek trusted, outside advice. Consider inviting several people who are further ahead in their faith journey to be your “wise counsel.” Ask them to seek God’s will for your life with you.

This step must be done alongside the previous ones. Seeking wise advice should confirm what you sense God is already telling you to do—it should not take the place of talking directly to God.

Add Friends to Your Bible App


Now what?

You may not always get it right, but the more you try to understand God’s will, the easier it becomes. God created you on purpose, and He wants you to be involved in seeing His Kingdom come “on earth as it is in heaven.”

When your desires align with God’s desires, He can trust you to do what is right. Applying these steps will help you do that, but this will be a lifelong commitment that involves seeking God every day.

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How to Pray: A 6-Step Guide to Prayer

Person praying

“Prayer.” When you see that word, what thoughts or images come to mind? Does talking to God come easy to you? Or do you struggle to pray?

Knowing what to say to God doesn’t always feel easy, and sometimes, prayer gets weighed down by our misconceptions about what a conversation with God should look like.

“Pray then like this…”

2,000 years ago, Jesus taught His disciples to pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those
who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

MATTHEW 6:9-13

This is now a famous example on how to pray. But how do we apply it to our everyday 21st-century lives?

First, we need to understand how not to pray. Before teaching the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus told His disciples, “when you pray, pray to your Father in private…” and, “do not heap up empty phrases…for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

If God already knows what we need, then prayer isn’t simply about the words we say. If we’re praying to impress people, or if we’re treating prayer like a box to check, then we’re missing out on the power of prayer.

Prayer is, and always will be, a dynamic conversation with God. When we realize this, the Lord’s Prayer becomes a freeing framework that helps us talk to God every day.

Here’s a 6-step guide to prayer that can help:

  1. Refocus on God.
  2. “Our Father in heaven, holy is Your Name …”

    Inhale deeply and focus on these words: “Our Father in heaven.”

    Slowly exhale as you say: “Holy is Your name.”

    Repeat this several times, and pay attention to any aspects of God’s character that come to mind. Spend this time focusing on how great God is.

  1. Realign your will.
  2. “Your kingdom come …”

    God has always been in the process of carrying out His will on earth. So right now, reflect on this: when you align your will with God’s will, you are actively seeking His Kingdom.

    Quiet any noise around you, and ask God to show you how you can take part in doing His will today.

  1. Release your concerns.
  2. “Give us today the food we need …”

    Imagine holding your hands out in front of you, as if you want God to put something in them. As you give God your concerns, what does He give you in return?

    List your concerns, and say them one at a time. Each time you voice a concern, try asking God to, “give us this day our daily bread.”

    Sit with this exercise for as long as you need.

  1. Repent and respond.
  2. “And forgive us … as we forgive …”

    What are you holding onto that you need to lay down? Is there anything you need to confess right now? Maybe it’s a hurt you can’t let go of, a behavior you’re struggling to change, an addiction you haven’t conquered, or a mistake you keep making.

    God invites you to come as you are, and respond to Him. Tell him whatever is on your mind, then create space to hear from Him.

  1. Request God’s protection.
  2. “… deliver us from evil …”

    We’ve all been rescued from something. What has God rescued you from?

    Thank Him for His faithfulness, and let Him know where you need help. Consider praying on behalf of other people who may also need protection. Remember that even when situations seem hopeless, there is nothing God cannot do.

  1. Rejoice and reflect.
  2. Celebrate what God has done in your life, and look for ways to worship Him throughout your day.

    Then, spend a few minutes reflecting on this time with God. What has He shown you? Consider adding anything that stands out to your YouVersion Prayer List.

Did you enjoy this prayer guide? You can get more prayer content like this by using the new Guided Prayer experience inside your YouVersion App.

Try Guided Prayer

When we start to pray like Jesus did, we will start to experience intimacy with God like Jesus did. And when we let prayer shape the way we live, we start to realize that we can approach God at all times with confidence, vulnerability, and trust.

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