These disciplines taxi us to the feet of God so He can work in our lives and we can glorify Him.
- Inward Disciplines
- Listening – in order to discern the voice of God and obey His Word. Through meditation/listening our soul bends toward God.
- Prayer – puts us in communion with God. This is the means for deepest personal relationship with our Father.
- Fasting – a means of worshiping and glorifying God.
- Study – transforms our minds to be like Christ. We must engage in repetition, concentrate, comprehend, and reflect on the learning.
- Outward Disciplines
- A Simple lifestyle – Ecc. 7:29 – God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising (JB). This is an outward manifestation of our inner reality.
- Solitude – “Whether alone or among people, we always carry with us a portable sanctuary of the heart” (R.J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 97).
- Silence – “First, silence makes us pilgrims. Secondly, silence guards the fire within. Thirdly, silence teaches us to speak” (H. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart).
- Service – allows us to exercise and grow in the grace of humility.
- Submission – If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Submission helps us learn that we don’t have to have it our own way in order to be happy.
- Thanksgiving. You won’t find this on a traditional list of disciplines, but I’m convinced it should be there. Jesus “gave thanks” again and again. We are to give thanks: “in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Phil. 4:6). “First, I tell you to pray for all people, asking God for what they need and being thankful to him” (1 Tim. 2:1, italics added). Eucharisteo (giving thanks) is the centerpiece of a Christian’s life.
If one isn’t mindful, these or any other disciplines are at risk of becoming just another task to tick off the to-do list. True devotion becomes routine motion if we are not careful. There are a variety of reasons this happens and they all seem to boil down to wrong motives. It would be wise to ask the following questions of yourself regularly, so that the practice of spiritual disciplines doesn’t erode into routine motion.
- Why are you entering into this discipline?
- Is it because you are crazy about God and you long to meet Him face to face?
- Do you long to know Him more and believe He will meet with you and reveal His glory?
- Are you entering into this discipline because you feel like you should?
- Are you doing it grudgingly and keeping an eye on the clock?
- Are you hoping to learn something to justify a behavior or to prove a point?
A positive response to the first three questions can result in a healthy, Spirit-filled life, but positive responses to the last three results in being mired down in the pit of holy-enthusiasm sucking legality. One can avoid this by checking their motives and seeking Spirit-led variety.