To become like Jesus, we’ve gotta do three things. We’ve got to do what Jesus did, pray like Jesus prayed, and believe like Jesus believed.

So first up is: Do what Jesus did.

Mark 1:35-37 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for Him, and when they found Him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for You!”

Well of course they are! Right!? The miracle-worker has come to town! The man the prophet said had come from God – possibly the long-awaited Messiah – He has come to our town! And He’s done work! Work that only a servant of God could do: teaching with authority, driving out demons, healing people of diseases – of course everyone is looking for Jesus!

And His response was that “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”

Sometimes, as followers of Jesus, it can be cool to actually do things the way Jesus did them.

Do you like to get up early in the morning? I’m not like that. I do not like to get up early in the morning – in fact, I would be totally fine if I couldn’t personally verify that 4am actually existed! I’m very happy to take other people’s word for it.

But in 2022, I completed 13 weeks of military training with the National Guard, and every day for us started around 4am. I prayed a lot of early morning prayers those days – and I got to watch more than 60 beautiful sunrises over the exercise field.

We have permission to pray to God anytime, anywhere, and really in any way we want to! But as followers of Jesus, what if – just every now and again – what if we did things the way He did them?

Now, this isn’t a requirement. The Bible doesn’t say Jesus got up every morning before dawn to pray – but sometimes He did. What if sometimes we did? Just to experience what our Lord experienced? Just to do things the way our Savior did them.

When I was 17, I started fasting once a week as a way to get closer to God, and I kept the habit up for several years, and it was one of the greatest seasons of spiritual growth in my life!

And looking back, I’ve asked myself, why did I start fasting? And, I think, in hindsight, there were a lot of reasons God led me that practice:

  • it helped me relate a bit to the suffering of Jesus,
  • and I could empathize just a bit those who suffer around the world.
  • Fasting brought unique focus to a few important matters of prayer that were in my life at that time.
  • In fasting weekly, I saw the power of temptations dramatically decrease in my life.
  • Fasting was a regular way to tell my cravings and my appetites that they do not rule me,
  • that my desires are not in charge of me anymore,
  • that I now serve a greater Master than my own selfish appetites.

So I think God got me fasting for a lot of reasons, and I think He accomplished a variety of things in my soul as a result of fasting.

But if I’m very honest, when I look back at that time, and think about why I actually started fasting – the truth is, I didn’t really know. I didn’t know what all God wanted to do in me through that spiritual practice. But I did know one thing about fasting: Jesus did it.

And if the Lord I was attempting to follow did it – then, even if I didn’t fully understand what it was, or what it was for – I wanted to at least try to do the things I saw Jesus doing in the Bible. It was a beginner’s effort, to try to do what I could do by God’s grace to become more like Jesus. Just by attempting to do the things I saw Him doing in the Bible.

In order to become like Jesus, we’ve got to do what Jesus did.

Mark 1:35 & Luke 4:42 & Luke 6:12 & Mark 6:48 and several other places tell us that Jesus often withdrew early in the morning to solitary places to pray. It’s not a requirement to be Christian. It doesn’t appear Jesus did this every single morning. But He did it often enough that it shows up numerous times in the Bible.

What if we all gave it a try? Going back to where we began today – to become like Jesus, we can try doing things the way He did them – what if just once – this week, each one of us would choose just one morning this week to get up before sunrise to spend 20 minutes in focused prayer time alone with God. Just so we could be a bit more like Jesus by doing one of the things Jesus did the way Jesus did it.