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Jesus’ Life of Spiritual Discipline

When we contemplate the life of Jesus, we should notice his life of spiritual discipline. He followed the Jewish tradition of prayer, fasting and giving. First, he set an example of prayer without ceasing, and abiding in the presence of the Father. Sometimes he prayed in solitude, he often prayed with his disciples, and he always prayed over those in need. Second, he set an example of giving and embodying the generosity of the Father. It appears that Jesus and the disciples had the practice of giving money to the poor (John 12:5; 13:29), but the discipline of giving can encompass every kind of activity that blesses those in need: from feeding the hungry to healing the sick. Third, he set an example of fasting, and hungering for more of God. He turned to fasting and prayer as a means of being empowered with the Spirit, committing his life into the Father’s hands, and resisting the power of the devil.

Jesus expected the disciples to follow his example. He said when they give to the needy, when they pray and when they fast, our heavenly Father would reward them (Matthew 6:3-18). He said “when” not “if” they pray, fast and give. He explained these disciplines are about growing in our “secret”, or intimate relationship with the Father, who knows us thoroughly, meets our needs, and delights in our service. The great reward is knowing the love of the Father himself who draws near to us through the Spirit when we come to him in prayer and simply ask (Matthew 7:11). And for every disciple, these disciplines are the means by which we follow Jesus today: abiding in his presence, hungering for his likeness, and joining in his mission.

What is Jesus saying to you about using the disciplines of prayer, fasting and giving? 

Extract from The DNA of Discipleship: The Way of Jesus, Wesleyan Spirituality and Making Disciples, by Philip R Meadows, Inspire Movement Publishing, 2021 p.56,58

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