5 Components of Discipleship: Breaking Bread

                Acts 2:42 says,  And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” [1] The third component of discipleship is that of Breaking Bread. This phrase is used several times throughout the Bible. ‘Breaking Bread’ basically refers to food or eating together. However, it has a much deeper meaning embedded in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper, or what we may call, ‘communion.’ Part of the worship of the early church was the gathering together to ‘break bread’ or to partake of the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. In addition to this, they also gathered together in various places and shared meals together. I would suggest that the term ‘breaking bread’ in scripture is a symbolic gesture of our communion with God and our communion with each other. The Anglican’s viewed communion as “a body of Christians having a common faith and discipline.”[2] Communion is a deep intimate fellowship or partnership. Communion is participating with someone or a group of people. In order for the local church to be a disciple making church, its members must have both daily communion with God and with each other. The early church participated in ‘breaking bread’ on a daily basis.  In other words, their relationship with God and with each other was not just a Sunday thing. It was a daily thing. I am afraid that the ‘breaking of bread’ is the weakest and most lacking component in the church today. We all have such busy schedules that we seldom have the time to spend with God and with each other. The church of today has allowed itself to be caught up in the pleasures and trappings of the world that we have neglected our communion with God and with each other. As a result, the church has become worldly and useless. So, what do we need to do? What does it really mean to ‘break bread’?

First of all, we must have communion with God. One of the greatest tragedies of God’s people today is the limited amount of time that we spend alone with God. There are three basic things that we should do on a daily basis in order to have communion with God.

First, we must study the Bible daily. Reading and studying the Bible on a daily basis is not just something that is good for us to do, it is something that we must do. Our spiritual lives depend on spiritual food, and our spiritual food is the Bible. In our world today, there are many resources that help us in our study of the scripture. There are many devotional books available, however, to really have communion with God, we need more than devotional books, we need to simply read and study the Bible. Five minute devotions simply does not cut it. To really grow, we must take our time and read the scriptures. As we read the scriptures we should ask ourselves the following questions: How is God speaking to me? Is there a direct command that I must obey? Are there any principles for me to live by? How can I apply the passage to my life today? Taking time to really read the Bible and allowing God to speak to us, is essential to our walk with God.

A second thing that we must do in order to have communion with God is to pray daily and continually. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray without ceasing.” In other words, we are to be in a constant attitude of prayer. Sadly, most believers do not take the time to really pray. We are so busy that we rush through our day without any quality time on our knees in prayer. Even Jesus spent quality time in prayer. “Jesus’ earthly ministry was remarkably brief, barely three years long. Yet in those three years, as must have been true in His earlier life, He spent a great amount of time in prayer. The Gospels report that Jesus habitually rose early in the morning, often before daybreak, to commune with His Father. In the evening He would frequently go to the Mount of Olives or some other quiet spot to pray, usually alone. Prayer was the spiritual air that Jesus breathed every day of His life. He practiced an unending communion between Himself and the Father.”[3] I believe that every believer should have what I like to call a daily ‘Sabbath hour’. We should have at least one hour every day that we set aside to get alone with God for the reading of His Word and for prayer. Such a daily commitment will enhance our relationship with God to such a degree that we live a life of continual prayer and communion with God. Charles Haddon Spurgeon described praying without ceasing this way: “Like the old knights, always in warfare, not always on their steeds dashing forward with their lances in rest to unhorse an adversary, but always wearing their weapons where they could readily reach them, and always ready to encounter wounds or death for the sake of the cause which they championed. Those grim warriors often slept in their armour; so even when we sleep, we are still to be in the spirit of prayer, so that if perchance we wake in the night we may still be with God. Our soul, having received the divine centripetal influence which makes it seek its heavenly centre, should be evermore naturally rising towards God himself. Our heart is to be like those beacons and watchtowers which were prepared along the coast of England when the invasion of the Armada was hourly expected, not always blazing, but with the wood always dry, and the match always there, the whole pile being ready to blaze up at the appointed moment. Our souls should be in such a condition that ejaculatory prayer should be very frequent with us. No need to pause in business and leave the counter, and fall down upon the knees; the spirit should send up its silent, short, swift petitions to the throne of grace …A Christian should carry the weapon of all-prayer like a drawn sword in his hand. We should never sheathe our supplications. Never may our hearts be like an unlimbered gun, with everything to be done to it before it can thunder on the foe, but it should be like a piece of cannon, loaded and primed, only requiring the fire that it may be discharged. The soul should be not always in the exercise of prayer, but always in the energy of prayer; not always actually praying, but always intentionally praying.”[4] Such a life of prayer is made possible as we communion with God on a daily basis. Such a closes with God where we can call upon Him at any moment is achieved only when first spend time on our knees. What about you? How often do you pray? Do you have a ‘Sabbath hour’? Do you live with an attitude of prayer?

Not only must we study the Bible daily and pray daily in order to have communion with God, but we must also meditate daily. With the busyness of our modern society, I am afraid that meditation has become a lost art. According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, to meditate is to “focus one’s mind for a period of time for spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.”[5] Meditation is also healthy, by the way. “In a study of the physiological changes during meditation it was found that heart rate slows, respiration is reduced, less oxygen is consumed, and the meditator’s brain waves show a marked increase in alpha frequencies (West, 1987). These bodily changes are the opposite of what occurs in the body when a person is subjected to stress.”[6] Though it is interesting to point out the health benefits of meditation, the purpose of our meditation should be to have communion with God. That ‘Sabbath hour’ where we study the scriptures and pray, should also include a period of time where we get quite and close our eyes and simply listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. This is best done at the beginning and the end of your ‘Sabbath hour.’ Begin that special time with God by getting quite and calming your heart and mind and then continue with prayer and then the study of God’s Word. At the end of this time, the heart and mind should once again be made calm as you sit and listen. Such mediation is very Biblical. The Psalmist was one who practiced meditation. Psalm 119:15 says, I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” [7]Psalm 4:4 says, Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.”[8] Psalm 1:2 speaks of the blessed man as one who “meditates day and night.”

In addition to having a daily ‘Sabbath hour’, I would recommend that you also have a yearly ‘Sabbath retreat.’ Take a trip by yourself to a cabin in the woods or just in a tent and spend a day or two with just you and God. Go some place where there are no distractions. No television, no internet, no radio; just you, God, and your Bible. Spend that time in quite meditation as you reflect on God’s Word and His plan for your life. Imagine, what would happen if every believer in the local church had a daily ‘Sabbath hour’ and a yearly personal ‘Sabbath retreat’! I believe; that if we did, revival is sure to come. The bottom line is that in order to be a disciple making church, we must have personal communion with God.

Not only must we have communion with God, but we must also have communion with each other. The early church participated in ‘breaking bread’ together. They were in the habit of doing this on a daily basis. A disciple making church is one that engages in true authentic community. Chip Ingram, in his book “True Spirituality”, says that authentic community occurs when “the real you meets real needs for the right reason in the right way.”[9] The local church should gather together at least once day a week for worship, prayer, and the study of God’s Word. That gathering together should then spill over into the daily lives of the believers as they participate with one another on a daily basis. This may include having dinner together or exercising together or meeting together for Bible study. Whatever it may be, the bottom line is that God’s people need and should spend time together. I believe that this time that we spend together is both spiritual and practical. In other words, as we spend time in communion with God, our conversation and time spent with other believers will reflect the time we have spent with God. In addition to this, there is a place for believers to simply have fun together. I believe that God wants us to have balance in our lives and in our relationship with other believers. Sometimes it is good to get together simply for fun. Maybe it’s a game of golf or tennis or perhaps gathering in homes and playing cards. The local church should be a ‘Christian Community’ where we engage in both our spiritual walk with God and in the sharing of the simple joys and pleasures of this life that God has blessed us with. When such communion with each other takes place, our masks are taken off and we become real with one another. We begin to really love one another. As our love grows, we then meet each other’s needs, both spiritual and physical. The early church had this Christian community thing down pat. They were together and they shared together and they met each other’s needs on a daily basis. In order to be a disciples making church, there must be real and genuine communion with one another.

There is a final point that must be made on this subject of ‘breaking bread’ or communion. There is a warning that must be given. The first part of that warning has to do with our communion with God. If all we do is have communion with God without communion with other believers, we will develop a sense of spiritual pride. In other words, if all you do is spend time alone with God, you will develop an attitude that says that you do not need the church. You will begin to think of yourself as more spiritual than everyone else and you have no desire to associate with other believers. You will begin to think that you have arrived at some spiritual level that other believers have not arrived at and cannot attain. Such spiritual pride is sin and will ultimately lead to your downfall. On the other hand, if all we do is have communion with each other and we never spend time alone with God, then we will become spiritually immature and worldly. This, I am afraid, is the greatest sin of the church today. We are good at getting together and having fun and enjoying one another, but our personal walk with God is lacking. As a result, worldliness has set into our lives and into the life of the church.

‘Breaking Bread’ is essential to the life of a disciples making church. May we all have a greater commitment to our communion with God and our communion with each other.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ac 2:42). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). Alone with God (p. 14). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] The Parables of Our Lord [Grand Rapids: Baker, reprint 1979[4]

[5] Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (2004). Concise Oxford English dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[6] Benner, D. G., & Hill, P. C. (Eds.). (1999). In Baker encyclopedia of psychology & counseling. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ps 119:15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8] The New King James Version. (1982). (Ps 4:4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[9] Ingram, Chip. True Spirituality. Howard Books. 2009.

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