Be Like Jesus
One of the benefits of prayer is that it allows us to bear God’s image and be more like Jesus.
As a believer in both spirit and science, I cannot fully grasp how the two coincide. I can’t argue with what’s been proven by brilliant minds, nor can I argue with what’s been revealed to me and so many others by our Creator.
Science & Spirit’s relationship remain curious to me. Questions aside, it’s marvelous how God created flesh & bone, male & female, in his image. That we started from him & remain called to reflect him is quite humbling.
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Jesus and Prayer
A benefit of prayer is that we can, quite literally, mirror God’s image. The Bible references Jesus’ prayer life many times.
Jesus prayed often.
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 (NIV)
He prayed at his own baptism.
“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'” Luke 3:21-22 (NIV)
He prayed for others.
“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.” Matthew 19:13-15 (NIV)
He prayed when he was deeply troubled.
“Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:38-39 (NIV)
He prayed for our protection.
“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” John 17:11
He prayed during his crucifixion for my sin.
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Luke 23:34 NIV
These examples of Jesus’ prayers are just a tiny highlight reel. Since Jesus and God are one, we can see God’s character lived out in Jesus’ behavior
“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 (NIV)
Getting Closer to God Through Prayer
When we pray we mimic Jesus but being an image bearer is more than behavior. Looking like him starts in the heart. He does not depend on us to act like his mini-me’s. That’s a big relief because we start out wanting to do well, but also wanting our own way, seeking to control outcomes and fill any gaps we fear our Father has left open.
When we pray, we develop a real relationship with God. This relationship produces good things in us and our outward behavior follows suit.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)
Prayer for the Fruits of the Holy Spirit
In Galatians 5:22-23, we get to see exactly what fruits are being produced in those with a direct connection to the life source. Below are the fruits of the spirit, active benefits of prayer, listed in three different versions. I hope you pull little gems from each one.
My super-fab sister text me The Message (MSG) translation for this passage earlier this year, and it was such an “aha” moment.
The Passion Translation (TPT) is fairly new. Check out their FAQ if you’re curious. I generally start with NIV and move to these two when I’m craving a little expansion, using both to broaden my perspective and further my grasp.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (NIV)
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. (MSG)
But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless. (TPT)
God desires to tend, prune and grow us to mirror his image. He is pleased when our actions and our attitude reflect his nature, glorifying him in all we do. The tedious, seemingly non-spiritual things life is full of, as well as the things that are so good they distract us from him, we do all of it as though it is specifically for his glory.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)
Finding Your Identity in Christ
Here are just a few of the ways shown in scripture that we can be God’s image bearers.
- Believe in him and become righteous (or holy). (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:23-24 1 Pet. 1:16, Romans 11:16)
- Forgive others the same way he forgave us. (Colossians 3:13)
- Accept others the way he accepted us. (Romans 15:7)
- Serve others the way he served. (John 13:13-17)
- Show mercy as he does. (Luke 6:36)
- Live in love as he does. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
- Walk in the light (or truth) as he does. (1 John 1:5-7)
Praying helps us be like Jesus and being like him allows us holiness, better relationships, a focus on others, love and light. Even when we feel like our prayers are unanswered, we know God is always working with us. Embracing this brings me clarity.
The last few posts began with a lot of questions. Mainly, what is the power of prayer, but also what are the benefits to unanswered prayers? I wrestled with these questions, but God used them to speak into me about the hidden benefits of prayer. Even when we feel like they’re unanswered, God is working mightily.
I’d love to hear your favorite verses on how we can be more like Christ and bear our Creator’s image. Share below, please!