All born-again Christians are called to be more Christ-like. For us to achieve completion of this is not possible, but we are required to strive toward that goal, day by day.
When Jesus left us and returned to His Father, he did not leave us unaided to fight the enemy alone, or, for that matter, to struggle towards Christ-likeness alone. Instead, Jesus provided two helpers for us in our struggles. First, He told us He will send us “the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you” (John 14:26). Jesus, after His resurrection left us with the Holy Spirit as our “Comforter”, our “Helper”, a “paraclete” – that is someone who comes alongside to help us. Second, “we have a great High Priest who has passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession” (Hebrew 14:4). Jesus is now our fulltime High Priest who is in constant prayer for us before the Father in Heaven, interceding for us as “a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:20).
When we look to Jesus, and when looking to be more like Him, first and foremost we recognise that His relationship with His Father is unique. It is a relationship which we cannot hope to duplicate, but which we are called to emulate. When we see how Jesus operated in this relationship and how He interacted with His Father, we can certainly learn from Him. Even Jesus’s disciples recognised that the relationship between Jesus and God was different in practice, to that with which they were accustomed. Certainly the Jewish people were no strangers to prayer; it was part of their daily lives; yet the prayer style of Jesus was so different and so obviously effective, that His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).
Jesus’s life was built around Prayer. Even the beginning of 3-year His ministry period started in deep and ongoing prayer “.. drawing back in the wilderness, and praying” (Luke 5:16). To be more Christ-like for a Christian, must mean first and foremost: Prayer. This was the centre of His relationship with His Father. Jesus took time out of His schedule to pray. More than that, he would set Himself aside from all His disciples to pray in private, to be with His Father in a one-to-one relationship.
Jesus answered the request from His disciple and taught them how to pray (Luke 5:17 on), but more than that, he gave them an abiding principle and theology upon which they could have a meaningful relationship with the father through prayer. See post entitled “The Lord’s Prayer – A Wider Teaching.”
Jesus also took time out to pray for His disciples and the inner group around Him. Luke 22:32 says “But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not. And when you are converted, strengthen your brothers” and John 17 where Jesus intercedes on behalf of His own and asked God to look after them all. This focus on His followers is also mirrored in the writings of Paul and is reflected in his letters, exhorting us to pray both regularly and fervently for the Church. Ephesians 1:15-16 tell us “therefore I also, hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus and love to all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.” (See also Ephesians 1:17-19, Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:9-11 and Colossians 1:9-12 for additional verses for praying for the Church.)
In Ephesians 4:13 Paul reflects Jesus’s concern not just with His followers and disciples, but also in the teaching of the faithful – both as individuals and as the Church corporate “and this until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
But as Jesus says in John 14:26 “the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.” Again in v16:13 “However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatever He hears, He shall speak. And He will announce to you things to come.”
We certainly need to remember that it is by the Holy Spirit that we brought in alignment with Jesus in prayer “so then neither is he who plants anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. So he planting, and he watering, are one, and each one shall receive his own reward according to his own labour” (First Corinthians 3:6-7). All glory and honour are for and to the Lord, in all things and at all times. We also need to remember that it is by prayer and prayer alone, that we can communicate with the Holy Spirit, hearing His directions and instructions for us.
The main teaching we can draw from Jesus in our striving to be more like Him, is “Prayer”. Prayer was central to Jesus’s life on earth and throughout His ministry and must be to ours and in ours also. Jesus prayed for His Church, His disciples and His followers and interceded for them. We must do the same. We must pray for the Church, we must pray for our fellow disciples and those whom we mentor or teach, or have mentored or taught. We must intercede for all Christians regularly that they will continue to be under the Blood of Jesus and walking in open and honest relationship with the Lord. Certainly, Jesus did not limit his prayers to these few subject areas, but the Bible shows that they were central to His ministry and prayer and as such, must be central to ours also.
I come before You with open hands and bowed head. I lay my pride down at Your feet and come before You in humility, for You and You alone are my Lord and God. Please teach me how to pray. Please help me to find time to pray. Please help me pray. Please help me to pray like Jesus Himself. I recognise that my prayer life is inadequate and is not Christ-like. Please Father, help me change to be more like Him.
In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen and Amen.