The Walk: Week 5 – Day 4- “The Spiritual Disciplines of Jesus.”

What following Jesus means, first, is living like Jesus in our personal character but there is something else that following Jesus has to mean for us. It is something that is often neglected but without which we can never effectively live like Jesus in our daily lives and challenges. When you look at the life of Jesus in the gospels you don’t just see his personal character or outward behavior but the spiritual disciplines underneath that character and behavior. That’s the second way in which we have to learn to live like him.

We sometimes we try to imitate Christ the way a little boy tries to imitate his favorite baseball player. The little boy wears his hats just the way his favorite player wears his. He steps up to the plate, plants his feet and holds his bat just the way his favorite player holds his. What the little boy doesn’t understand is that if he really wants to play like his favorite player he can’t just imitate what that player does on the field. He has to imitate what that player does off the field and before the game. He has to prepare in private for the performance he hopes to achieve in public. He has to spend time in the gym, on the track and in the batters cage. In the same way to follow Christ means not just that as we go out into the world that we try to show the love of Christ and the courage of Christ and the uncompromising truthfulness of Christ. It means all of that but much more. We have to practice the private disciplines by which he strengthened His relationship to God and prepared Himself for his public life. Jesus had incredible poise and power in public and with people because He took time to be alone with God.

There are two spiritual disciplines that seem foundational in the life of Jesus. Jesus filled his heart with Scripture and kept close to God through prayer.

Jesus filled his heart with Scripture, to follow him we must live like that. In Luke 11:28, Jesus said, “Blessed … are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Jesus didn’t just give that out as advice for others. He lived in light of that realty. The attitude of Jesus to the Bible shines through his words and his life everywhere once you look for it. It’s not just that every now and then he says, “Let me tell you what I think about the Bible”. It’s more like His doctrine or view of the Bible is on every page of his story and in every step of his life. He faces every danger, resists every temptation, resolves every argument, and expresses every joy with the Bible and often in the very words, phrases and verses of the Bible. What we have come to call The Golden Rule is Jesus quoting a verse from the book of Leviticus (19:18). His famous beatitudes are mostly quotes from the book of Psalms. As he is dying on the cross Jesus quotes a psalm to express his grief. In death people cling to what they value most in life. For Jesus Scripture is not just a book about God or a means of knowing right from wrong but a living and life-giving source of spiritual power and truth. Jesus immersed his life in the Scriptures, to follow him we must live like that.

Jesus kept close to God with prayer, to follow him we must live like that. Luke 5:15 says, Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Notice Jesus withdrew from people not just to be alone but to be with God and to speak with God in prayer. Prayer is just a personal conversation with God. Prayer is asking for his guidance and for his help. In prayer you surrender your will to His will and place your dependance on him. Jesus understood and taught that God’s power flows primarily to people who pray. He lived a life of prayer and told us to pray. To follow him you have to live like that.

Albert Einstein said, “Human beings dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player”. I’m not sure what Einstein meant by that but I do know that when we look at the life of Jesus we see a man who lives, dances by a mysterious tune that comes from God. His life is immersed in the words of Scripture and empowered by his communion with God in prayer. The influence of God flows into and floods his life and he lives the way he lives in public because of the relationship he has with God in private.

What Spiritual disciplines or practices have been most helpful for you at this stage in your spiritual life?

What would you most like to work on?

What are the biggest obstacles you face in developing these disciplines and how might you plan to overcome those obstacles to follow Jesus in a life of prayer and Scripture reading?

To follow Jesus we also have to fill our hearts with Scripture and keep close to God in prayer. I know many of you read your Bible and pray daily. Keep doing that. Keep memorizing Scripture also. It is clear from the life of Jesus that he memorized Scripture so that he had it in his heart and on his lips. Take a scripture that speaks to your life now, print it out or write it down. Learn it by heart. If you never read your bible then look at Jesus, hear him calling you to follow him and start today. And pray. In prayer you declare your dependance on God and guard your communion with God just as Jesus did.

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~ by Larry Kirk on February 20, 2012.

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