I love how our new life in Christ will never grow old. God sees us as new in Him. Never again will we be slaves to sin in His sight. But we’re also still works in progress – a thought that both humbles me and frees me from shame. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can and should grow to become mature believers.
“For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:13-14
One way we can take initiative to learn and grow is through the spiritual disciplines. Now, discipline isn’t my favorite word (especially in regard to punishment…or going to the gym regularly), but Donald S. Whitney defines spiritual disciplines as:
Those practices found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are habits of devotion, habits of experiential Christianity that have been practiced by God’s people since biblical times.
So, spiritual disciplines are good! And they are all about doing, not being. They come directly from the Bible and all have the same goal in mind (if our motivation is correct): to become more like Christ. So, what are these practices? I’ll list them as they appear in Whitney’s book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, because they are so clear and succinct.
1. Scripture Reading
8. Silence & Solitude
Those don’t sound too scary, do they? I’m sure we already engage in many of them already! The idea is that we set aside time to make a concerted effort to follow the examples we find in Scripture for our growth.
In the Gospels, we see Jesus practice “Silence and Solitude” so He could be alone with the Father without distraction. Maybe this means we set aside a day and devote it to the same, which can also include several of the other disciplines. We can turn off our phones, read our Bibles, pray (I like to write my prayers in a journal), and worship our Lord! Sure, it may be a struggle in some ways, especially at first. But I’m convinced, just like when Christ did it, that we will return to “real” life refreshed and ready for ministry.
Or take fasting. The Bible actually mentions fasting more than it does baptism. In his book A Hunger for God, John Piper says, “Fasting is really when your hunger for God exceeds your hunger for the food God made you to live on.” Fasting and prayer go hand in hand. When your stomach growls, it’s reminding you to pray for the need weighing down your heart. But maybe you’re like me and can’t fast for health reasons. I think it’s just as pleasing to God if we fast from other things instead, like any of the screens that can steal our time – TVs, phones, computers – and spend that time in prayer in their place.
Which of the spiritual disciplines come more naturally to you? Which of them sound difficult? Share in the comments below!
Family Radio Staff