Have you ever wondered about Jesus’ daily spiritual practices? Or have you considered how those practices shaped His life and ministry? The Gospels do not give a lot of information. While they mention Jesus at times going off to pray, they do not provide a list of His daily spiritual disciplines. Understanding the world of ancient Judaism, the spiritual world of Jesus, sheds light on what His daily practices might have been.
In the first century, Jews daily recited Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which begins, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (6:4-5). The recitation of this passage was seen as a person submitting to God’s rule and reign. It established the nature of our relationship with God: He is the king; He makes the rules; we follow them in obedience. In fact, it was said that the one who recited this passage accepted upon themselves the kingdom of Heaven (i.e., God’s rule and reign). Jesus identified this passage as the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:36-38), so we can assume that He also daily recited this passage, submitting Himself to the will of His heavenly Father.
The Gospels only provide a brief period of time in the life of Jesus. We actually know very little about the majority of His life. If we forget this, we may have the tendency to assume that His entire life was one miracle after another. As Christians, we rightly emphasize the deity of Jesus, but in doing so, we can sometimes lose sight of His humanity. As God in the flesh, Jesus faced many of the same human struggles and emotions that we do. Yet, we can assume He daily recited Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and learned to submit His will to that of his Father’s.
At the end of His life, the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed in the garden, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). He could have escaped and run away. But He chose to submit Himself to the will of His Father. In this moment when the weight of the world rested upon Him, could He have submitted to His Father’s will had He not made that part of His daily practice?
We often think that true spirituality is how one lives in the big moments of life. But we fail to realize that our capacity to respond or perform in those big moments is actually conditioned by how we have disciplined ourselves to live each and every day.
Jesus submitted to the will of His Father in Gethsemane, because He had already done so each and every day in the years leading up to that pivotal moment. He chose obedience in that instant, because He had already chosen a life of obedience.
Father, today, may we submit our will to Yours in everything we say and do. May we discipline ourselves in obedience today and forever. Amen.