Jesus is the Pattern Son. He is the beginning and the end, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters, Who lived to show us how to live (Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18; Heb. 12:23). “…All truth is…[embodied and personified in Him]” (Eph. 4:21 AMP). And, as Christians, we are called to “…grow up in every way and in all things into Him…” (Eph. 4:15 AMP), enjoying the same kind and quality of relationship with our Father that Jesus Himself had. Only then will we be empowered to fully and accurately represent Him everywhere we go, “on earth as it is in Heaven.”
The quality of our life and communion with Christ is directly related to the quality of our interaction and communication with Him, and there is nothing in this world that can meet the need that can only be filled with a personal every-increasing intimacy with Him. However, this kind of connection with Him requires us to first understand and acknowledge that we are nothing and can do nothing without Him.
“Your prayer life denotes how much you depend on your own ability…The more self-confidence you have, the less you pray. The less self-confidence you have, the more you have to pray… only poor men pray.” Leonard Ravenhill
In the days of His flesh, Jesus was a poor man (Ps. 22; II Cor. 5:21; 8:9; Phil. 2:7-8). He laid down His essence — His omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience — and became a human being, just like you and me. By His own admission, He said and did nothing as God. He did “nothing” on His “own authority” or on His “own accord” but only said what He heard the Father saying and only did what He saw the Father doing (see Jn. 5:19, 30; 7:16; 8:26-29, 38;12:49-50; 14:10, 24, 31 in the Amplified).
Therefore, as a man, He showed us what the true Christian life really looks like, living utterly dependent on our Father through the power of the Holy Spirit (Lk. 4:14, 18-19; Phil. 2:5-11). In fact, this dependence was so absolute that He would often turn aside to pray “…as if to breathe pure air from a life-support system that would give him the strength to continue living on a polluted planet” (Philip Yancey). And when the world, the flesh and the devil came to tempt Him, He stood strong in the reservoir of grace He had developed in His personal time with our Father (Luke 22:46).
Jesus was constantly bombarded by massive crowds who needed Him to heal their spouse, resurrect their son or deliver their demonized child. And Jesus performed so many supernatural acts that if they were all recorded in detail, the world could never contain the books (Jn. 21:25). And yet, in between every miracle, every healing, every exorcism, every resurrection, every teaching or sermon, He would send the crowds away and retire, by foot or by boat, to secluded places – to a hill, mountain, wilderness or lake – so He could be alone with our Father (Matt. 14:13; 26:36; Mk. 3:7; 6:46; Lk. 4:42, 5:16; 9:18, 28; 21:37-38; 22:39; Jn. 6:15). For hours at a time, whether He woke up long before daylight and prayed or prayed all through the night without sleep, He would sit and commune with our Father all by Himself in deserted places (Matt. 14:13, 23; 15:29; Mk. 1:35; Lk. 6:12). This was His custom, His regularly practice in life. And, because He was faithful to pull Himself away from the public eye and from all that distracts to spend time with our Father, Mark 7:24 (AMP) says “…it was not possible for Him to be hidden [from public notice].” In other words, the intentional cultivation of His intimacy with our Father empowered Him in ministry with a fire upon His life that drew everyone to Him, like a moth to the flame.
In regards to our lives today…
“…We really need to make a conscience effort to be undisturbed. When you have children in the house, if the door is open, they run in and out. If the door is shut, there is a better chance for complete privacy. Sometimes you have to escape the telephone. Well, you take the thing off, or as I have in my study, I have a gadget to shut the thing off. When I want to pray, I turn off the phone. It is shutting the door, making a conscience effort, at least as far as we can, that we’re going to be undisturbed and undistracted for the time of our devotions. That’s often easier said than done, nevertheless, the effort ought to be made.” Walter Beuttler
When Jesus sent the crowds away, so He could be alone with our Father, He wasn’t concerned about appearing rude or abrupt or losing public approval. Rather, He considered His time with our Father as far more important than the affirmation of men. He knew the difference between loving people and loving our Father and knew He could never truly love people apart from first loving our Father.
Each day, several times throughout the day — while we’re working, driving somewhere, spending time with our family or whatever — “we can withdraw into the secret closet in the cathedral of our own spirit. Did you know you carry a cathedral around inside you? I go there a lot, to the cathedral in there (pointing to his stomach) where the Presence of the Lord is. There you worship.” (Walter Beuttler)
All true spiritual ministry comes from the overflow of our intimacy with our Father. As Wade Taylor used to say, “If we build God a house of devotion, He will build us a house of ministry.” Only from this place can we receive Spirit and Life to gives to others. Of course, it is in this place that we are also transformed — “Prayer is where two hearts engage and the stronger one always wins in its transforming ability upon the weaker one. It’s the engagement of life. It’s fellowship where life is exchanged – ours for His.” (Bill Johnson)
Jesus’ prayer life was His source of power. As he spent time with our Father — developing a personal history with Him in secret where no one was watching — he stored up “treasures in Heaven” within Himself, resulting in him being rewarded openly by our Father with supernatural power that confirmed His life and ministry before everyone (see Matt. 6:5-21). As Bill Johnson once said, “There is no record of Jesus asking His Father to heal someone, nor is there record of Him crying for the Father’s deliverance in a life-threatening storm. Instead, He had gained a place of authority in prayer so that He could simply bring the command and watch the will of His Father being done.”
To Jesus, prayer was a dialogue, not a monologue and from that place of mutual interaction and satisfaction, they worked together as an interdependent team. What He heard in the dark, whispered in His ear in His private times with our Father, He shared in the daylight with His disciples and the multitudes, as directed by our Father (Matt. 10:27).
As Jesus worked himself out of the job by reproducing himself in his disciples so that they’d eventually carry on his work, he taught them the unlimited value of turning aside to deserted, barren, solitary places for leisure and quiet prayer (Mk. 6:30-32; Lk. 9:10-12). He knew, from experience, the secret to true Kingdom ministry. Unfortunately, when the disciples failed to heed His wisdom, their hearts grew callous and quickly became spiritually dull in their understanding (Mk. 6:30-52). As a result, they were left unable, at times, to administer His supernatural power and life (Mk. 9:28-29).
Mark 1:17 (KJV) says, “Come ye after me, and I will make you (cause you) to become fishers of men.” (comment added)
The call of God is always first to “come”; only then can He “make” us to “become” stewards of His Kingdom in the earth. Too often, “We are prone to rush out and at once begin to work for the Lord, forgetting what Jesus really said. Our calling is to work with the Lord, rather than for the Lord. Therefore, there must be a time of preparation before we can be effective in serving the Lord. ‘Fishing for men’ will follow as the normal outworking of a life of prayer and communion with the Lord. If this were practiced as the Lord taught, most of the problems that we have in our Christian experience would vanish.” (Wade E. Taylor)
When Jesus went up the mountain and called His twelve disciples to himself, He “ordained” them “that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils” (Mk. 3:13-15 KJV). Notice, He ordained them that they should be with Him and that He might send them forth. Today, people are ordained into ministry so they can be “sent”; yet, Jesus ordained his disciples to be with him so He could then send them out to preach, heal and deliver. So, Jesus placed relationship with Him before and above ministry to people, affirming the priority of the first commandment (loving God) before and above the second commandment (loving people). Why? Because He knew that it is impossible for us to truly love people, as He does, without first being transformed within through intimate relationship with Him.
“There’s nothing more transfiguring than prayer.” Leonard Ravenhill
What is more, those who spend time with Jesus, reflect Him. We know this because after spending 3.5 years with Jesus, the transfer of his Life and Power into his disciples became so apparent that when Peter and John eventually stood before the religious leaders for speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus, it was obvious, even to the spiritually dull among them, that these men were unique. When they “saw the boldness and unfettered eloquence of Peter and John and perceived that they were unlearned and untrained in the schools [common men with no educational advantages], they marveled; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus“ (Acts 4:13 AMP). Notice, the “boldness and unfettered eloquence” of these unlearned, untrained, uneducated fishermen caused the religious leadership to marvel. Why? Because it was supernatural, recognized as being that which could only be acquired by being with Jesus. When Peter and John spoke, the religious leaders recognized a Sound within their voice that reminded them of Jesus, setting these two men apart from everyone else.
As for us, it is to the degree that we abide in Him, spend time with Him, and walk with Him that we too will be recognized as true believers.