How To Practice Spiritual Disciplines

Spiritual disciplines are practices that are intended to help people change their lives. Their goal is to help us grow spiritually as Christ's disciples and improve our relationship with God. They're similar to spiritual training activities. However, just like any other form of exercise, we must choose to perform it on a regular basis in order to feel or see the benefits. So, what are these practices, exactly? Consider the following lists from two of the most influential publications on the subject from the twentieth century:

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Dallas Willard's The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives

  • Abstinence disciplines include seclusion, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, confidentiality, and sacrifice.
  • Study, worship, celebration, service, prayer, fellowship, confession, and submission are the disciplines of engagement.

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to structure these lists of spiritual disciplines, as well as which disciplines are included. So, how did these practices come to be? Because they've endured the test of time, the majority of them are considered spiritual disciplines. Finally, Christians have decided to incorporate these disciplines into their spiritual lives because they are practices that Jesus himself practiced or taught about, according to the Bible.

How do you become spiritually disciplined?

“The meaning of terrestrial existence is not in prosperity, as we have come to believe, but in the development of the soul.” —Alexander Solzhenitsyn, author of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Alexander Solzhenitsy

We looked at the similarities between training the physical body and training the spiritual soul last month “When muscles are exercised, they gain strength and agility; they require pain, effort, weight, and resistance to grow; and they can only be perfected by persistent, continuous practice.

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The types of activities used in bodybuilding are well-known: calisthenics, jogging, biking, lifting weights, stretching, plyometrics, and so on.

But what are the spiritual equivalents of “barbells” and “push-ups”? What are some exercises that can be used to strengthen the soul?

We'll be running a series of articles on these exercises, known as spiritual disciplines, over the coming few months, and today we'll give you a general overview of what they're all about.

What Are Spiritual Disciplines?

“What we urgently need now is a bigger number of deep people, not more brilliant or skilled individuals.” Richard J. Foster (Richard J. Foster) (Richard J. Foster) (Rich

Spiritual disciplines are habits, activities, and experiences that are intended to develop, mature, and reinforce particular spiritual traits — to strengthen one's character “muscles” and broaden one's inner existence. They organize the “workouts” that prepare the soul. Some spiritual disciplines are solitary, inward exercises, while others necessitate interpersonal relationships and are done in groups.

Many philosophers, theologians, and writers have recommended a variety of practices that could be classified as spiritual disciplines across time. These are some of them:

We've chosen eight of these spiritual disciplines as the most important for modern-day males, encompassing a wide range of belief systems and incorporating numerous other disciplines. These eight will be explored as four complimentary pairings in this series:

Are the Spiritual Disciplines for Me?

“Perhaps you have heard the call to deeper, fuller living somewhere in the underground chambers of your life. You've had enough of frothy experiences and superficial instruction. You've gotten glances, clues of something more than you've known, now and again. You secretly yearn to dive into the ocean.” Richard J. Foster (Richard J. Foster) (Richard J. Foster) (Rich

With their emphasis on ascetic activities, the spiritual disciplines arose from the early Orthodox and Catholic churches, particularly their monastic orders. However, Protestant groups have embraced them as well.

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Though the concept of “spiritual disciplines,” as defined and classified, is linked with the Christian tradition, many of the disciplines are shared by many religions and philosophical traditions, including Stoicism. They can be done by men of all faith traditions, as well as those who have no faith at all.

Non-theists may simply see the soul they are attempting to educate as the mind's higher capacity or the human will, whereas theists may see it as an eternally generated essence. Spiritual disciplines' motivations and goals will be viewed differently by people with different belief systems. However, there is a lot of overlap between all of them, particularly when it comes to the “mechanics” of the activities. As a result, this series will attempt to describe the disciplines' prospective aims, benefits, and applications in a way that is inclusive, practical, and yet yet important.

How do you practice true spirituality?

Adopting a contemplative practice, such as meditation, prayer, yoga, or journaling, has far-reaching consequences not only on spirituality, but also on physical and mental health.

  • To have a contemplative experience with others, join a spiritual community such as a church, prayer group, or meditation facility.
  • Eat thoughtfully, relishing and appreciating the food you're eating and avoiding distractions at meals.

How do you practice the spiritual discipline of simplicity?

This fundamental spiritual activity is defined by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun: Simplicity fosters the wonderful skill of letting go. Simplicity tries to loosen an excessive commitment to owning and possessing things. Simplicity brings with it freedom and generosity. She summarizes the purpose of simplicity as follows: “to simplify and disentangle my life so that I can concentrate on what truly important.” Calhoun goes on to say in her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us:

Jesus tells us that true freedom comes from putting God and his will first in our hearts, not from possessing and doing. “Do not store up treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy them and thieves break in and steal them; instead, store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes them and thieves do not break in and steal them. Because where your treasure is, there will your heart be.” 6:19-21 Matthew

Jesus wants us to understand that we don't require all of the goods or experiences that we believe we do. What we truly need to do is keep Jesus and his kingdom at the forefront of our minds. When only one thing important, life gets lot easier.

In our life, simplicity generates margins, spaces, and openness. It pays homage to our planet's limited resources. It provides us with the opportunity to savor the current moment. Simplicity encourages us to let go of the tangle of desires so that we can receive the inexhaustible treasures of life.

Steve Sikkink discusses how important it is to him to live a simple life.

Watch the video again, pausing to listen to what God could be saying to you as the themes Steve says come up:

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Keep Adele Calhoun's list in mind as you strive to improve your spiritual practice of simplicity. According to her, the practice of simplicity entails:

  • evaluating the things and activities that make life complicated, complicated, and perplexing, and attempting to simplify them

These books can assist you in your quest for more freedom to experience God and the life God intended for us:

Richard Foster's Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World (HarperCollins, 1981).

The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows is a book about falling in love with the God Jesus knows. Smith, James Bryan (InterVarsity Press, 2009).

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun's Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (InterVarsity Press, 2005).

What does the Bible say about spiritual disciplines?

Spiritual practices are a good way to keep your religion in shape. The Apostle Paul explains in 1 Timothy 4:7-8 that while physical training is beneficial, it is much more vital to prepare for godliness. Prayer, fasting, simplicity, silence, isolation, service, giving, and, of course, Bible study and meditation are all good ways to improve our spiritual fitness. In the Christian religion, there is no single comprehensive list of spiritual disciplines, although all of them have their roots in Scripture. I'd like to talk about a practice that has revitalized my spiritual life and improved my relationship with God's Word: memorizing Scripture. When addressed with prayer, this type of meditation can assist establish the groundwork for spiritual health and godliness.

God instructs us to write his commandments on our doorframes and to bind them as symbols on our palms and foreheads (Deuteronomy 6:8). We're told to put them on our hearts, both literally and metaphorically (Deuteronomy 6:6). Why? So that we don't forget the Lord who freed us from sin's shackles (Deuteronomy 6:12). “I have concealed your word in my heart that I might not sin against you,” says one who knows God's Word (Psalm 119:11 NIV). It sets the sword of the Spirit in our hands, allowing us to drive off temptation to sin at any time, whether we have a physical Bible with us or not. That is exactly what Jesus accomplished. He memorized Scripture and responded to Satan's temptations with a slash from the Word of truth (Matthew 4:1-11).

In my own experience, I discovered that, far from hindering my knowledge of God's Word, rote memorization considerably boosted it. I found myself thinking about what verse 3 meant when it said “you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ” as I worked on memorizing Colossians 3. My eyes, mind, and even tongue passed over the lines again and again, each one building steadily on the other; I found myself thinking about what verse 3 meant when it said “you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ.” It seemed to me that understanding this crucial term enabled me to grasp the rest of the chapter's putting to death, ridding, taking off, putting on, clothed, forgiving, letting, submitting, and obeying. Before I can do anything, I have to recognize that I have been crucified with Christ and given new life in him. I have received deeper wisdom of God and his perfect will through every amount of Scripture memorizing I have ever done.

Scripture memorization is difficult. There is no such thing as a “easy method” for memorizing Bible verses or passages. You may, however, identify strategies and resources that are tailored to your learning style to help you achieve. Here are some pointers:

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Begin your new habit by memorizing one verse per week. Pray and ask God to show you what to memorize and to assist you in doing so. You could memorize individual verses, a short chapter, or a group of verses that form a theme (like perseverance, for example). God may even lead you to memorize entire chapters or even a book. Start by adding one new verse per week, whatever your objective is.

Continue to study the passages you've already remembered as you add new ones. For example, if I memorized John 3:16 the first week, I should reread John 3:16 when memorizing John 3:17 the next week. This will aid with the memorization of the scripture, especially if you're memorizing a passage or chapter. Retrace your steps and recite all the verses you've memorized in your current plan to that point each week when you add a new verse. Of course, if you continue memorizing for a long time, reviewing all of the passages you've ever studied on a weekly basis will become too time consuming. Instead, while working on your present memorizing plan, pick which passages you'd like to review. You can keep even sections you've memorized for a long time fresh this way.

Start memorizing by reading the material in context, aloud if feasible, whether it's only one verse or an entire chapter. Then read the passage you're working on multiple times, making sure to pronounce each word clearly. Saying the passage aloud will help you remember the words and phrases. Repetition is effective. If you're a kinesthetic learner like me, writing or typing out the verse may be beneficial. You can also print a verse, clip the words apart, and then put them back together again. A variety of digital tools for memorizing are available online or as mobile apps. Working with another person, such as a family member or a friend, adds accountability and allows you to encourage one another as you memorize God's Word.

Scripture memorization refreshes and strengthens our intellect. God's own words are tucked deep within our hearts, and his Spirit draws them out when we need them. By memorizing Bible verses, we have them at our fingertips to encourage fellow Christians and to share with people who do not yet know God in a loving manner. The act of memorizing is a type of Bible meditation. There are numerous strategies and instruments available to assist, but none of them make it simple. After all, the goal is for the scripture to be memorized for the rest of one's life. Scripture memorizing will put you to the test. Knowing God, his Word, and his perfect will, on the other hand, is well worth the effort.

Why do we need spiritual disciplines?

I wrote on fasting last week, but I realized I should have began this brief column series with a response to the question, “Why should a person fast?”

“Why should Christians exercise any spiritual discipline?” is another good question to ask. Spiritual disciplines, such as fasting, should be practiced because of the benefits they give in terms of godliness. Piety or holiness are two definitions of godliness, but one I like is this: godliness is acting as Jesus would if he were in our shoes. Spiritual disciplines, in other words, assist us in thinking and acting more like Jesus.

To begin with, spiritual disciplines teach us how to please God. “I do nothing on my own but communicate exactly what the Father has taught me…I always do what pleases Him,” Jesus said. 8:28,29; 9:28,29; 10:28,29; 11:28

Reading, studying, remembering, and meditating on Bible texts, for example, can help us understand God's goals. Intake of the Bible teaches us God's methods, warns us when we're on the verge of spiritual peril, demonstrates how to return to spiritual safety, and aligns us with God's will.

When we put this knowledge into practice, we, like Jesus, delight God. We won't be able to pursue godliness without the spiritual discipline of Bible intake.

Second, spiritual practices help us to remain in God's presence. “Jesus frequently retreated to lonely areas to pray.” 5:16 (NIV). Jesus had mastered the art of quieting his mind and seeking God's presence. Jesus said short and long prayers, both with and without others. Prayer, when practiced on a regular basis, maintains us in God's presence, where Jesus resided. Having a constant dialogue with God helps us maintain control over our emotions and desires, as well as resisting temptation. Pursuing godliness, however, necessitates the spiritual discipline of prayer.

Finally, a word of caution and encouragement: I believe people avoid spiritual disciplines for two reasons: first, disciplines are not always successfully taught, and I often freeze rather than move when I lack information. Others, I believe, are experiencing the same difficulties.

It's risky to ignore God because of a lack of knowledge. If you don't know how to pray or study the Bible, ask a Christian friend; you'll both benefit from learning together. Second, spiritual disciplines necessitate effort. Any activity that benefits us usually necessitates some effort. Spiritual conflict, in addition to effort, frequently accompanies any technique we do to attain godliness.

But don't despair! Christ promises that He will never abandon us, but will provide us with the assistance we require through the Holy Spirit. Strength, endurance, and even spiritual protection are all provided by him. Why don't you get started right away? Memorize and pray the following Scripture prayer, and consider what it means for your life: “I pray to the Lord, and He responds from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep, and then I wake up because the Lord keeps me alive. “I'm not afraid…” Psalm 3:6–8

Pursuing godliness with the support of other brothers and sisters in Christ is always beneficial.

How do you practice the spiritual discipline of prayer?

We're looking forward to this new series on spiritual disciplines, especially as we've focused on knowing God's Word throughout 2018. Each month, we'll take a look at a different spiritual discipline, explaining it and suggesting some application ideas!

Do you recall playing tag when you were a kid? We'd set borders and a home base before the game started, and then the pursuit would begin. I recall sprinting as fast as I could while being pursued, doing everything I could to get back to my base before being tagged. Nobody could touch me at home base, so I could relax for a while without fear of being attacked. I recall a sense of security — even if I had just made it to home base, I knew nothing could stop me.

In a similar way, I consider prayer (though thankfully involving less physical exertion). Here's what I mean: I believe God wants us to think of our personal prayer time with Him as a safe haven, a break from the chaos that may surround us during the day, a place where we may catch our breath and trust that God will take care of the heavy work. Even if we only make it to Him by a hair's breadth, we'll be safe once we're there.

Looking at prayer as a spiritual discipline, here are a few handholds to consider as we progress in our prayer practice:

Let God be your refuge.

God's resounding affirmations of benevolence and encouragement resonate throughout Scripture. He instructs us to “Always put your trust in Him… pour out your souls in front of Him. God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8), and God reveals to us that our spirits may truly rest only in Him (Psalm 62:5-8). God is basically expressing here, in my opinion, that He wants us to come to Him with everything in our hearts and minds. He wants us to share both the good and the terrible with Him. He'll never get tired of hearing that. Furthermore, this God who directs us to pour out our emotions to Him possesses all power and wisdom. Nothing happens without His knowledge. He is not just sovereign, but He is also close. According to Psalm 68:19, “He carries our troubles day after day.” To me, that's incredible. God not only invites us to bring our hearts' aspirations and wants to Him, but He also bears them with us. The Creator of the Universe comes down to walk through life with us every day, to share the hardships with us, and to rejoice with us.

Let God realign your heart, mind, and priorities.

We have access to God's purifying sanctification as He refines us to look more like Himself as His children. As He redeems and reshapes us, we have the opportunity to work with Him. It glorifies God if we then say to Him, “Here's what I desire and here's what I think I need,” after pouring our hearts out to Him. However, please keep these wishes, ideas, and affections to yourself. Make them to your liking. Please align them with Your wishes. In the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39), Jesus modeled surrendered obedience, and we see many godly believers following in His footsteps.

Lord, I surrender my own plans and goals, as well as everything of my own wishes, hopes, and ambitions, in exchange for Thy will for my life. I completely surrender myself, my life, and my entire being to Thee, to be Thine forever. All of my friendships are given to Thee, and all of the people I love are to take second place in my heart. Fill and seal me with Thy Spirit right now. Work out Thy entire will in my life at all costs, for living is Christ to me. Amen.

We may not be prepared to pray Betty's prayer. But we can all pray to God to help us put our faith in Him more fully. Although surrendering to God's will can be challenging at times, we know that it is always the greatest option. Why? Because God is more aware of our needs than we are. We open the door for Him to act through us and bless us in ways we could never have imagined when we yield our wills to His. “If we knew what God knows, we would ask exactly for what He gives,” argues Tim Keller.

Let God remind you of who He is.

We need to be reminded of God's character as we place our preferences and priorities on the altar. We're more inclined to cling to our own desires and imagined needs if we don't see God clearly, and we're less willing to trust Him with everything if we don't see Him clearly.

Before God makes a covenant with His people in the Old Testament, He consistently reminds them of who He is and what He has done for them. It's as if He's saying, “Remember, we're in a relationship, and I love and care about you?” I'm telling you how to live, how to honor me, and how to prosper because I love and care for you. Instructions are always intertwined with a loving relationship. That is also how He is with us right now. Out of the protection of a relationship with Him, He wants us to keep in step with His will. Our hearts are tender and attentive to Him when we pray.

Let's get to the meat of the matter. Perhaps you've tried praying but find it tough. If that's the case, try the following suggestions:

The psalms are ideal for this practice (though any chapter of Scripture will suffice); when you read through the psalm, take each verse one by one. After reading the verse aloud, pray whatever comes to mind in light of what you've just learned. Then go through the process again until you've finished the passage.

I find it difficult to remain in silence for long periods of time, therefore writing down my prayers to God is really beneficial to me. You get the added benefit of reflection when you record your prayers – you can always go back to your notebook to see what God has done in your life.

This acronym serves as a helpful reminder of what you should pray about. A is for Adoration, so take a few moments to praise God for who He is. Ask God to convict you of sin with the letter C. Repent and confess your sins to the Lord as soon as possible. Thank God for everything He has done in your life using the letter T. Supplication means bringing your needs, as well as the needs of those in your life, to God.

Above all, God is inviting us into a more intimate relationship with Him. It's not about having a flawless prayer or a unique sentence. He desires for us to learn more about Him. “God is pretty good at listening to faulty prayers,” says pastor Ray Ortlund. On the way up, he fixes them.”

What are inward spiritual disciplines?

The inside disciplines are the most inward of all the disciplines, and they're a wonderful place to start when talking about spiritual disciplines. Meditation, prayer, fasting, and study are the four internal disciplines.


What it is: This is one of the more abstract notions, yet it has a wonderful simplicity to it. “Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God's voice and obey His Word,” explains Richard Foster. Meditation seems less daunting when stated in this manner. Meditation is intended to bring you closer to God and to make you more reverent of Him. Meditation isn't always about receiving big spiritual revelations (though it can); it's more about allowing the Father to lead us through the mundane aspects of life. As Christians, we have direct access to God's presence and can hear from Him. Jesus retired frequently to meditate and commune with the Father (Matthew 14:13).

What it isn't: I used to think that meditation entailed doing yoga, sitting cross-legged, and humming with my eyes closed. This is usually associated with Eastern ideas of meditation and mind-emptying. The purpose of Christian meditation is not to empty the mind, but to fill it with God's thoughts.

  • Meditation thrives on two elements that are frequently in short supply: silence and calm. A practical strategy to begin meditating is to do so as soon as you wake up or as soon as you go to bed.
  • Slow your breathing and your thoughts. “Our hurrying mirrors our internal condition, and our internal state is what has to be addressed,” Richard Foster says in his meditation discussion.
  • Read a verse of Scripture numerous times in a row to get a sense of its significance.

How do I awaken my spiritual power?

When trying to put all eight aspects of wellness together, the spiritual aspect of wellness can be the most individualized piece of the puzzle. People, on the whole, like to live lives that have meaning and purpose. When these objectives are attained, it brings peace into one's life and the lives of those around them.

So, what are some things you may do to increase your spiritual well-being? It's best to experiment with several ways to see what works best for you. Spiritual wellbeing can be reached in a variety of ways, both physically and intellectually, because it involves one's values, beliefs, and purpose.

1. Examine your spiritual foundation. You are merely asking yourself questions about who you are and what you mean when you explore your spiritual essence. Consider the following question: “Who am I?” What is the point of my existence? What am I most passionate about? These questions will lead you down a path where you will think more deeply about yourself and recognize aspects of yourself that will assist you in achieving fulfillment.

2. Search for hidden meanings. Looking for deeper meanings and examining patterns in your life will help you realize that you have power over your future. Knowing this can help you live a happier and healthier life.

3. Get it off your chest. It will be easier to retain a concentrated mind if you express what is on your mind. You may feel befuddled and unable to make sense of your feelings after a long day or an important event. You may be able to think more clearly and move forward if you write down your thoughts.

4. Give yoga a shot. Yoga is a physical discipline that can help you achieve spiritual wellness by eliminating mental and physical stress. Yoga is taught at all levels and can help relieve anxiety, sadness, weariness, and sleeplessness as well as reducing stress, strengthen the immune system, and lower blood pressure.

5. Take a trip. Yes, it is correct! Taking time for yourself to travel to a familiar location or to a new location can do wonders for your mental health. You will have a greater connection with yourself when your mind is able to block out distractions and assist you in reflecting and resting. This allows you to eliminate stressors and retrain your mind to focus on total wellness. Exercising, visiting with a counselor or advisor, meditation, or taking a temporary vow of silence are all activities that can be done while on a trip.

6. Keep an optimistic attitude. You will find yourself thinking differently and shifting your mind to a happy, healthy place once you begin to view things in your life in a good light. You'll discover that you're more comfortable when you eliminate negativity and re-frame how you think about specific things and situations.

7. Set aside some time to meditate. While managing your time and everyday tasks can be difficult, it is critical to make time for yourself. Take five to ten minutes each day to meditate, whether it's first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or right before bedtime. By incorporating meditation and relaxation into your daily routine, you will be able to clear your mind and strengthen your connection to your spiritual well-being.