Peter tells us the importance of following in the footsteps of Jesus:
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. -1st Peter 2:21 (ESV)
the Greek word here means to walk exactly the way Jesus walked, to imitate Him. In the immediate context Peter is talking about enduring in the face of physical persecution. Even though this is the immediate context, Peter also has in mind that believers would follow exactly the example Jesus in every respect.
Paul speaks of this in even more clear terms in his first letter to the Corinthians:
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. -1st Corinthians 11:1 (ESV)
The Greek word for imitator here is where we get the English word for mimic. So Paul is telling the Corinthians to mimic him as he mimics Christ. He then goes on to praise them for following the traditions that were given to him.
Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. -1st Corinthians 11:2 (ESV)
The word for ‘traditions’ here is also used in this verse:
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. -Colossians 2:8 (ESV)
So the traditions that Paul is teaching are not the traditions of men but the things Jesus taught. Every rabbi of the time who took on disciples would teach them exactly how to live everyday life. He would teach them his way to walk in the Law of God. Not only this he would specifically instruct them how to live, how to pray, and how to study God’s Word. His disciples would then mimic everything the rabbi did as close as possible. This is why Paul writes this:
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. -2nd Thessalonians 2:15 (ESV)
Many times in our culture a tradition or daily practice will be seen as religious if it is repetative, or not spontaneous, whether it comes to prayer, Bible reading, or worship. This is not the case with Jesus, the disciples, and Paul. They would say the same prayers every day in addtion to any spontaneous prayers they may say. It is known that all Jewish men would repeat the prayer that included Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21; Numbers 15:37-41 everyday, three times a day. The repetition made it even more important and meaningful. The prayer is known as the ‘Shema’. Added to this we see that Jesus taught His disciples they should pray another prayer as well. We know it as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as [it is] in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. -Matthew 6:7-13 (NKJV)
Notice the phrase ‘give us this day our daily bread’. If they were taught to pray for daily bread then Jesus was teaching them a daily prayer. Do you think the disciples did this? Do you think they taught others to do this? Do you think Paul taught this as well? It seems highly unlikely that they would ignore what Jesus taught them and not pass it on to their disciples. Especially when we see that Jesus said this to them:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, [even] to the end of the age.” –Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)
If Jesus taught them to pray would they not teach others as well? If they did was it just because they were automatically following something Jesus taught them and blindly following what He taught them? Or could it be that when God puts on flesh, walks the earth, and gives instructions on prayer they listened to Him?
Should we listen as well? It is up to each one of us to think these things through and then follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in this regard. We do not want to follow the traditions of men, but we do want to walk like Jesus walked, and obey what He taught us. The goal of this article is to challenge you to think about your daily prayer life and how you can make it more meaningful and productive. Also keep checking back if you want to dig deeper into the Lord’s prayer, what it means, and how it helps you in your daily walk.