A lot of people see the word discipline and thoughts of unpleasantness
course through their minds. Who wants to force themselves to do something
grueling, repetitive, and devoid of fun? While that might be what your workout
schedule is like, that’s not what spiritual disciplines are about. See the picture
to the side? Look at it again. That’s what spiritual disciplines are like. We
are God’s children. We love Him. He loves us. We want to spend more time
with Him and grow closer.
Spiritual disciplines are simply a means of doing that. In this often hectic
fast-paced world, we must discipline ourselves to take time out and spend it
with those we love. The following are some ways you can take time out and
spend it with God. Since this is a relational activity, read over the list and then
pray to God about how He’d like you to start spending time with Him today.
“Draw near to God and He will
draw near to you…” - James 4:8a
1. Bible Study
The easiest way to do this is to keep a notepad with you, and any time you encounter a subject you’d like to know more about…or one you ought to know more about…write it down and then when you have time search God’s word for the answer. Set aside regular times to work on your list so it doesn’t get too long. Or pray, and ask Christ to lay on your heart what He’d like you to know more about.
Another way is to start in a book like John and go through it a passage at a time, taking care to research each subject that comes up…like “in the beginning.” It can be as simple as just picking up the Bible and reading it.
None of us have it all together, but even if you came to Christ last week you are further down the road than somebody who came to know Him yesterday. As you grow in Christ, purposely find ways to help others grow as well. That might just be writing out a memory verse for them or offering to host a Bible Study for neighbors or coworkers.
This is abstaining from food and sometimes drink for set periods of time while seeking the Lord’s face. By denying ourselves food we are essentially saying that God means more to us then our lives. Living out this truth gives us spiritual focus. For somebody with very busy days, giving up a meal to spend time with God may be the only opportunity they’d have to do so. This is a powerful means of drawing closer to God when accompanied by prayer.
Keeping a record of things that God has done in your life, prayers He has answered, and things He has taught you is a vital part of your Christian walk. We too easily forget what God has done for us and only live in the moment. If you haven’t been growing in your walk with Christ lately, journaling may be just the thing you need to get your focus back on Christ.
5. Memorizing Scripture
Take a blank journal or a set of note cards, and during Bible Study or Sunday service, if Christ uses a verse to really impact your life, chances are He doesn’t want you to forget it. Write it down. Commit it to memory. This is especially important for sins or temptations we struggle with. Memorize verses that apply. Memorization is when 3-4 months can tick by without a verse being reviewed and yet it’s still known word for word. You will find great spiritual benefit in endlessly rehashing crucial verses in God’s word.
Many people keep prayer lists and journals. Others use stopwatches to help them pray for set amounts of time. Still others pray through verses they have memorized. However you do it, Jesus said His house is to be a house of prayer, so we must discipline ourselves to pray regularly.
7. Silence and Solitude
In Psalm 46:10 God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Sometimes we really need to take time out, get away to someplace quiet, and just sit, allowing ourselves to be reminded that He is God, He is in control. Take time to meditate on all He says He is in His word, on His majesty and splendor, on His might and power. As you do so allow Him to bring peace to your heart.
2nd Corinthians 10:5 tells us to “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” In Philippians 4:8 we are told to meditate on what is true, noble, just, pure, etc. The battleground of the mind is where most spiritual warfare is won or lost. We need to love the Lord our God with all our minds. Whether this is determining to consciously fix your eyes on Him when you wake up and as you go to sleep, forcing your mind to think Biblically as you watch a movie or read a book, or just listening to the thoughts drifting through your mind during the day to expose lies and replace them with truth, we all need to discipline ourselves in this area. Isaiah 55:7 says, “let the unrighteous man forsake his thoughts, let him return to the Lord.” What things does your mind automatically drift towards? Draw near to God.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost. If we want to walk with Him, then like a little child, we need to head in the direction He’s going. Pray that God would open your eyes to what He’s doing around you. Pray that He would give you opportunities to share your faith with others. Pray that He would give you boldness to do it. Then step out in faith and act! Remember, we are not responsible for other people’s responses. We are only responsible for being obedient.
All through the Bible we are told to worship God. It’s what we’ll be doing throughout all eternity. Whether this is worshipping God by silently bowing before Him, singing some of the great songs recorded in the Bible, keeping a list of modern songs to praise God with, or making up songs of your own as you praise God, insure that you schedule regular times to focus on Him in worship by opening your mouth in praise. If we do not discipline ourselves to worship, we will miss out on some of the best times we can have in His presence.
“And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” - 1st John 2:28
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