DEFINITION. What is a spiritual discipline? Think about it this way. Just as regular rest, good diet, and regular exercise strengthen you physically, spiritual disciplines are actions you take regularly which strengthen you spiritually.
LISTS. There are many lists of spiritual disciplines. Donald Whitney in Spiritual Disciplines for the Cchristian Life lists: Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning. Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline includes the following:
- Inward disciplines: mediation, prayer, fasting, and study.
- Outward disciplines: simplicity, solitude, submission, and service.
- Corporate disciplines: confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.
PURPOSE. Our purpose in doing spiritual disciplines makes a difference. Are we meditating or praying because it is part of our routine, or are we doing so to understand God, His Word, and His ways better? Are we submitting and serving in order to be seen or out of our love for God, others, and self? Are we worshiping because of how it makes us feel or because God is awesome and deserves our praise and worship?
FREQUENCY. Notice the word I used for frequency in the definition: regularly. Some disciplines will be daily (or even hourly). Others will be weekly, monthly, or periodically. But the word, discipline, begs for regularness in order to contribute the most toward spiritual strength, relationship, and progress.
Balance is often helpful. Personal reflection and assessment are needed from time to time. Don’t just study the disciplines. Practice them. Grow as His disciple. Make disciples.
For more ideas about discipleship, check out these posts: