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?”
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“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 3:68
Pursuing godliness with the support of other brothers and sisters in Christ is always beneficial.
What are the main 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:
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.
Why is God's discipline important?
This word may make you feel uneasy. Discipline as a notion has been interpreted and applied in a variety of damaging ways. Discipline, on the other hand, is essential for living a successful life because, broadly speaking, discipline is about organizing our lives in such a manner that our actions are as productive and beneficial as possible. Discipline, when viewed in this light, is really beneficial!
Discipline should serve a bigger purpose for Christians than enhanced productivity and personal gain. Discipline in the Christian sense refers to molding your life to God's heart, character, and will. God does this in us, but our actions and decisions are also important. After all, our faith is a two-way street, not a one-sided agreement.
Spiritual disciplines are a collection of practices available to Christians. Some of these, such as prayer, Bible reading, and journaling, are probably already in your daily routine. They will help you get closer to God if you use them in your devotional time.
The Exciting New World of Life in College
Discipline is required for you to succeed in college, in both the basic and Christian dimensions indicated above. You won't have the same clear structures and expectations as you did when you lived with your parents; instead, you'll be able to set them for yourself! This is thrilling, but it can also be stressful. Time management, study habits, new connections, and self-care are all part of this scary new world of obligations.
One or more of these tasks is likely to be neglected, with your spiritual life being the most vulnerable. You are not alone in your beliefs if you attend a Christian school, but you cannot expect your community to mold you into a Christ follower by osmosis. No one can make you go to church, attend a small group, volunteer, pray, or study your Bible, but a Christ-centered community can challenge you and help you grow in many areas of your life. You must make a commitment to these things at some point!
If you want to grow in your religion while you're studying, you'll need to be disciplined. But how does that look in practice? There are a number of centuries-old devotional traditions in the Catholic Church. They are, in essence, tools that help us move closer to God, allowing us to experience more of his goodness and life.
What I Learned from Neglecting my Spiritual Life in College
It's not as if I'm speaking in a vacuum. I attended a Christian institution with a vibrant community and several chances for academic and spiritual development, mentoring, and service. In many ways, though, I sped through my studies and social life Netflix, video games, and toxic relationships, to mention a few distractions My time could have been better spent on good habits that would have resulted in a greater relationship with God, stronger friendships, and academic success. I'm sorry for making these decisions. They have, nonetheless, taught me significant lessons.
I recall listening to a sermon by John Piper with one of my friends when I was in college. Piper was preaching from Mark 9, a passage in which Jesus takes a firm position against chronic sin. “Cut off your hand if it causes you to sin,” he says. It is preferable for you to begin life disabled than to go to hell, to the endless flames, with two hands.” Piper used this verse to illustrate a vital spiritual principle: you must be careful in purging your life of sin, no matter the personal cost, even if it maims you physically (hopefully not). This is all we need to do in order to live a holy and blameless life with God. Allowing sin to continue to exist is far more costly.
I had prejudices about Piper and believed that I knew better. I chose to ignore this lesson because I believed he lacked compassion and grace for those who were stuck in a cycle of sin. I didn't realize he was speaking Jesus' words. My heart was pounding. I found it more difficult to spend time with God when I ignored this concept, and it wounded me more than letting go of my pride would have. As a result, my health, schoolwork, and relationships all suffered.
This is something I'm not telling you because I believe it will happen to you! The notion is that the moral and spiritual character of your life is influenced by your connection to God.
Defining Spiritual Discipline
Discipline's etymological root is to instruct, educate, or train. To put it another way, discipline involves training yourself to think and behave in a way that will help you achieve your goals. When applied to Christianity, this meaning changes: you are not aiming to educate yourself for the sake of self-improvement. Rather, the purpose is to be transformed into the image of Christ and to be present with Him. In this view, discipline is for the sake of deepening your connection with God. A spiritual discipline is any habit you have in your life that has this as its underlying objective.
Spiritual disciplines are as much about setting limitations for oneself as they are about practicing beneficial habits. Setting limits for yourself is one of the most beneficial things you can do. Following God's commands faithfully frees you, bringing joy and fulfillment to your life. The route to finding fulfillment in Jesus is the discipline of taking out the useless things in our lives and putting in place the desirable things.
Spiritual disciplines, centuries-old traditions of prayer and Bible contemplation underpin the Church, all of which are designed to assist followers of Christ grow closer to God and live truthfully in the world. These practices are valuable resources for students who wish to deepen in their relationship with Christ during their college years. The following is a list of disciplines that I've discovered to be really beneficial.
This is the most basic and important of all the disciplines, as well as the most difficult to master. “Pray without ceasing,” Paul advised Christians in Thessalonica. How are we going to do it? Begin by going on at least one daily prayer walk. Finish the day by writing down your prayers in a journal. When you're stressed, pray alongside your classmates. Inviting your lecturers or other mentors to pray for you is a good idea. These are only a few suggestions to get you started. And if you're having trouble praying, the best thing you can do is pray to God for a praying spirit!
This is a meditative type of prayer that will assist you in recognizing God's presence throughout the day. To begin, choose a word or phrase to use as your “prayer word.” Concentrate on this word or phrase while inhaling and exhaling deeply. Don't be too hard on yourself if your mind wanders (which it will). Take note of where it went and gently return it to your prayer word or phrase. It's not about looking for a one-of-a-kind encounter with God; it's about focusing on the truth of who God is and who you are in him. This attention practice should only take 5 to 20 minutes of your time.
It's fine if you think keeping a gratitude journal is cheesy. Gratitude practice can help you change your whole thinking and heart posture. Make a list of ten things for which you are grateful to God every day. They might be large or modest in size. When you do this on a regular basis, it will become a natural way of thinking for you, and it will raise you out of despair or self-pity. Thanking God is a terrific method to begin started when approaching God in prayer (check out Psalm 100:4).
Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading.” This exercise is designed to help you focus your mind on Scripture texts, line by line, so you can better recognize God's voice. It's all about taking pleasure in being in God's presence and hearing what He has to say. There is no reading program, and there are no deadlines. We often treat Bible reading as a chore, rushing through it and missing out on the reality that God, through the Holy Spirit, wants to speak to us! However, in order to hear that still tiny voice, we must slow down and give the Word the time and attention it needs.
Read Hard Theology!
Instead of the secularized versions of Christian thought that frequently find their way into mainstream Christian culture, look for good, rigorous theology. Make it a habit to read a few of these books each year, and increase the number if you feel up to it. If you're looking for a true challenge, I recommend A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God or Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. This isn't a true spiritual discipline, but it's an excellent habit to maintain. Morning & Evening by Charles Spurgeon is a good devotional to read.
These are only a few examples of spiritual disciplines that might incorporate into your life. Observing a sabbath day and memorizing Scripture are also beneficial. But don't give up if you start and then get behind – just pick them up again. Any time spent engaging in these activities will pay off! Adele Calhoun's Spiritual Disciplines Handbook is a fantastic place to start if you want to learn more.
The Spiritual Disciplines are about Joy and Life to the Fullest
Spiritual disciplines will not solve your sins, concerns, anxieties, or obstacles in a magical way. You will be disappointed if you are searching for a silver bullet. These disciplines will only be effective if they are combined “If they become a regular routine and habit, they will “work.” While these acts are an act of worship toward God, they may not always result in spiritual sentiments. They will, however, gradually bring your heart and thinking into alignment with Jesus.
According to the late Eugene Peterson, “There would be very little worship if Christians simply worshiped when they felt like it… Worship is an act that generates feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship. Our deep inherent yearning to be in relationship with God is developed when we accept the duty to glorify God in worship.” Following God is not, in essence, a passive activity. The purpose of the disciplines is to nourish our hearts' intrinsic longing to be in relationship with God. A intimate relationship with God produces obedience and holiness.
A degree is nice, but being transformed into Christ's image is far better and should be the ultimate goal of your Christian education. You could respond, “I simply don't have time for all of this during the school year,” you could remark, but you'll find that when God is prioritized, your hours go a lot further. Your stress levels will drop, and your productivity will rise. In the world, God will become more real, desirable, and visible to you. So, begin your exploration of spiritual disciplines right now, and see which particular expressions of them best suit you.
Hebrews' author stressed this “No discipline appears to be enjoyable at the moment, but it is painful. Later on, however, those who have been schooled by it reap a harvest of righteousness and serenity. As a result, strengthen your shaky arms and knees.” We are being pursued by God. As we choose to come closer to God through discipline, He will draw closer to us as well. When we face challenges, he wants us to become stronger and more resilient. He wants us to reap the benefits of living a good life. So, let God guide you and give you the grace you need to live a good life. The end outcome will be long-lasting happiness and living life to the fullest.
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:
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 is it important to be both spiritual and religious?
Both religion and spirituality are founded in attempting to comprehend the purpose of life and, in certain situations, how a relationship with a higher force may impact that meaning. Religion and spirituality, for example, can both assist a person cope with stress by instilling calm, purpose, and forgiveness.
How many spiritual disciplines are there?
Spiritual disciplines should be practiced every day. They've identified eight spiritual disciplines that provide a tangible foundation for discipleship. Christians have been performing these things for as long as Christians have existed.
What does it mean to discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness?
We've all acquired habits that keep us from following God's path. Perhaps we spend too much time watching TV or surfing the internet instead of spending time in God's word. Perhaps we are more prone to procrastination than to diligence. Perhaps we are more like Martha than Mary, always preparing and rarely sitting at the feet of the Lord. These are habits that must be broken.
Disciplining yourself for holiness demands you to actively put on new habits, not just put off old ones. You must prepare oneself for holiness, which necessitates the formation of new habits. Self-discipline for godliness entails a lifelong pursuit that becomes a part of who you are. Your pursuit of godliness must be second nature to you, just as any other habit is.
Why is discipline important in the church?
Church discipline is the practice of church members urging a member of the congregation to repent of their transgressions. When someone has sinned or broken the church's rules, they are subjected to church discipline. The goal of church discipline is to get the offender to repent and reconcile with God. It was also utilized to keep other members of the church safe from the effects of sin and to keep them from acting out.
What is the biblical meaning of discipline?
Discipline is to instruct, correct, reprimand, or rebuke in the ancient Hebrew of Proverbs. It does not imply that you will be punished or beaten.
Who was disciplined in the Bible?
Timothy's spiritual training by Paul was paideia. Timothy was encouraged by Paul, but he was also gently rebuked from time to time. In I Timothy 2:24-25, he told Timothy (and us) to do the same.
“The Lord's servant must not dispute with others, but must be kind with all, competent to instruct, patient, and gentle in correcting those who oppose him, so that God may grant them repentance and full knowledge of the truth.”
“However, avoid profanity and old wives' tales. Exert oneself in the direction of godliness. For while physical exercise has some worth, godliness has infinite value, as it offers the promise of both now and future life” (I Timothy 4:7-8).
Spiritual discipline, Paul equated to physical training, which is a shadow of spiritual realities. As parents and disciple-makers, we should gently encourage and admonish our children as they spiritually develop and mature.