What's the Good of Spiritual Disciplines?: A Primer on Purpose
What does that word conjure up in your mind?
Pain? Drudgery? Boredom?
We know we should practice spiritual disciplines to grow our faith, but it is hard to keep it up.
Good intentions peter out when shiny objects catch our attention. (Squirrel!)
May I share a few thoughts?
First, regarding, well, discipline.
How do popular athletes rise to the top?
Here’s the secret: They practice the basics over and over till it is ingrained into them.
That way, when the heat is on at game time, they are not busy trying to figure out how to position their arms to sink that free throw.
Likewise, if we desire to reflect Christ and represent Him here on earth, it will take some practice.
We practice so that when it counts, we will live as Christ.
Spiritual disciplines, like reading Scripture and prayer, are the foundational “footwork” we need to live out Christlikeness.
They shape our nature deeply so we more naturally respond as He does.
But this takes work. He does that work, but we need to show up for practice.
Point: Show up.
It’ll be worth it later.
Second, on means. The good news is there are many ways to meet with God. Our spiritual diet can be uniquely tailored to you.
One of my favorite resources is Adele Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. In it, she describes not just two or three but over sixty different spiritual disciplines.
Point: Find what works for you!
Even if you enjoy the standard Bible study and prayer, dare to mix it up.
You may discover a new way to connect with God.
Third, a thought on motivation.
Have you ever thought of what has happened to you—I mean, spiritually?
We are new creations in Christ! The old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)
This heart, once dead, is now alive. (Eph 2:1-6)
Let that sink in.
The greatest reason to spend time in the Word and nurturing spiritual disciplines is to retrain this flesh to match the reality of my heart.
I am a new creation in Christ, but my body and flesh have not caught up yet. Practicing spiritual disciplines, then, is the way I participate in the training of my heart, soul, mind, and strength so that I live what I truly believe.
This is a process, commonly known as sanctification.
Suffering also sanctifies us, but it is through pain.
Spiritual disciplines may feel painful, but it is a pain we willingly enter into, that we might be made more like Christ.
Point: Submit to the process.
Whatever tried and true or new for you, make them a priority.
Be prepared to roll up your sleeves. Maybe even struggle a bit.
Just don’t quit.
It’s the secret to living like Christ when it counts.