By the time a Christian grows spiritually to be a spiritual parent, he (or she) sees prayer as his life. Prayer is not something he has to schedule. He is constantly talking to God in his quiet time, getting ready for the day, or driving to work. He is praying for work projects and people in his periphery, kids at home in their spiritual growth and school projects and discipleship relationships of other men (or women), who are hungry and hunting in God’s adventure for spiritual victories.
Prayer becomes as natural as breathing. The spiritual parent doesn’t have to write down a list of things to pray for, because there are so many things he is talking to God the Father about already. He may have a great prayer journal that helps him keep track of his prayers, but he doesn’t lack for things over which to pray. He has to restrain himself during a prayer meeting to “let” other people pray. He has to restrict how much time he takes when praying with others, so that they can have an opportunity to pray also. But he willingly restricts himself, so that the unity of the group is highlighted and the team support is felt.
That was Jesus’ modus operandi (method of operating). Jesus was the ultimate as a spiritual parent. Jesus was never married, but He had people that followed Him. He lived with prayer as His life-line to God the Father.
Jesus prayed at the beginning, during and at the close of His ministry. During His baptism by John the Baptist, which was the beginning of His public ministry, Jesus prayed, “When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.” (Luke 3:21 NKJ) It was Jesus’ custom to withdraw to pray to the Father regularly, “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 NKJ) And even on the cross at the end of His human ministry, Luke recorded, “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, `into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last.” (Luke 23:46 NKJ)
Jesus prayed after a long day of ministry. Jesus poured Himself out for people in teaching and ministry, but realized He needed to be re-energized by the Father so He made sure He physically went away to pray. “And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.” (Matt. 14:23 NKJ) Although Jesus was empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit, He withdrew to “recharge His human batteries” with the Father. Yet, Jesus also rose early to prepare for a long day of ministry. “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NKJ)
Jesus also prayed before making a major decision. Luke recorded,
12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: (Luke 6:12-13 NKJ)
Jesus prayed all night. Jesus prayed all night on the mountain because He was about to chose twelve men to disciple and one of them would reject Him to initiate the crucifixion proceedings. Prayer is important!
Jesus prayed in the midst of a suffering trial. “Of course He prayed in suffering, everyone does,” someone might complain! Yes, but Jesus is God and why would suffering be something for Him to have to pray about? He was human as well as deity. He went through all the pain and agony in a similar way any other human would experience, only magnified.
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless1 I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. (Matt. 26:36-44 NKJ)
Jesus denied His own pain and suffering to pray on behalf of others. Luke recorded, “Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.” (Luke 23:34 NKJ) Jesus is hanging on the cross with nails through His hands and feet and He’s praying for others? Asking the Father to forgive them? For what they have done to Him? That is the way of the spiritual parent!
Yes, prayer was Jesus’ life-line to the Father. While Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He had the presence of mind to clarify His dependence on the Father and the confidence that He had completed the Father’s work for Him. John recorded,
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 “as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should1 give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. (John 17:1-4 NKJ)
Jesus, after a human lifetime of dependence on the Father in prayer, had confidence that the Father would glorify Him, give Him authority over all flesh and know Him eternally. Jesus had completed the discipleship work with the Disciples! That is a prayer life of complete dependence and trust! That is the evidence of a spiritual parent! No other spiritual parent will be like Jesus, but His example of prayer will be the growing pattern for a spiritual parent. May we all pursue that kind of relationship with the Lord! May we all grow up to be like Jesus!