the shape of leadership

Seven Spiritual Practices of Jesus

Following the Lord’s example in our daily habits

Influence Magazine on July 26, 2019

Spiritual practices, also known as spiritual disciplines, are behaviors that help develop your spiritual relationship with God. In other religions, people may perform certain rituals to induce a so-called spiritual experience. In the Christian faith, however, the focus of what we do is always spiritual growth (Colossians 1:10; Hebrews 6:1).

Jesus modeled these disciplines perfectly, providing a template for us to follow in our daily lives. Here are seven spiritual practices of Jesus that we should seek to emulate:

1. Prayer

At least 25 times in the Gospels, we read of Jesus praying. According to Luke 5:16, Jesus prayed often by himself. In other words, He made a habit of it.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His followers about prayer — specifically, private prayer (Matthew 6:6). If such prayer times were important to Jesus, they should be a vital component of every believer’s life.

2. Fasting

At the onset of His public ministry, Jesus took 40 days to fast in the wilderness. While it made His body weak, His spirit grew stronger.

Luke 4:14 says that after His trial in the wilderness, Jesus returned to Galilee “in the power of the Spirit.” Following the fasting pattern of Jesus will increase the vitality of His disciples.

3. Public Worship

Luke 4:16 says that “on the Sabbath day [Jesus] went into the synagogue, as was his custom.”

Finding a place of solitude and silence can be repairing to your soul, especially amid the hectic demands of ministry.

It’s interesting that Luke makes a similar observation regarding Paul in Acts 17:2: “As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue.”

Public worship is a time to grow spiritually with others of like faith. Jesus knew this, and all Christians should follow His lead.

4. Bible Reading

Studying Scripture was an important part of Jesus’ life. In fact, by age 12, He was already as biblically literate as the leading teachers (Luke 2:41-47).

Reading the Bible early and often is foundational to the life of a believer. This was not something Jesus skipped. He relished it and excelled at it.

5. Solitude and Silence

Jesus regularly ministered in front of large crowds. But He also made a habit of getting away from time to time (Luke 5:16). In fact, He even encouraged His disciples to get away to a quiet place and rest (Mark 6:31).

Finding a place of solitude and silence can be repairing to your soul, especially amid the hectic demands of ministry. Jesus knew this and practiced it.

6. Service

In Mark 10:45, Jesus said His goal in coming to earth was not to be served but to serve others and to give His life for our benefit.

It’s easy to overlook service as a spiritual practice. However, serving with a heart of love for God and others is certainly a way to be more like Jesus. The next time you serve, whether at church or in the community, think about how it relates to your spiritual growth.

7. Meditation

While other religions teach meditation as a way to clear the mind, Christian meditation is about focusing on God and His Word. This is apparent throughout the Old Testament (see Psalm 119:97, for example).

While there is no explicit text that shows Jesus meditating, it is likely one of the things He did when He went away alone. His teaching in Matthew 15:19-20 highlights the spiritual importance of maintaining a God-centered thought life, something Paul also talks about in Philippians 4:8.

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