Getting in the Habit (Part 1)
The postmodern culture we live in is often overly focused on feelings, on making decisions based on instincts rather than rational thought or thorough study.
This is not the way God instructs us to live.
God commands His people to be different from the world, which does whatever feels right. Following God may not be the easiest choice; it may not seem like the most natural thing to do. One thing we can engage in to in spiritual maturity and to seek to know more about God is to practice spiritual disciplines.
So, what are spiritual disciplines? Spiritual disciplines are different ways we place ourselves in the position to grow spiritually (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
Spiritual disciplines include all of the Holy Habits that we do to grow spiritually, including prayer, fasting, praise, meditation, solitude and so many others. Don’t get put off by the phrase “Holy Habits.” Most of the time we think of habits as routine or bad. Habits can be good too. They are refreshing. In the same way, the Spiritual Disciplines are not always something that we are thrilled about, and they may take discipline but spiritual growth can’t take place without them.
Spiritual disciplines put us where God can work within us and transform us. By themselves, the spiritual disciplines can do nothing– they can only get us to the place where God can work in us.
A spiritual discipline is necessary, but “just doing it” will not make you holy. It is only the means to spiritual growth. The goal of spiritual disciplines is to bring us into spiritual maturity, intimacy, and wholeness. The goal isn’t just to “pray” or to “show up at church;” the goal is intimacy with God.
Praying/Fasting/Worship/Service, etc. for the sake of themselves will not make you spiritually mature. That’s just going through the motions. Those are only means to maturity. You don’t do them for the sake of just doing them, like it’s just some obligation. When you do those things in that way, and your Christian life is nothing more than a Spiritual To-Do List, the Christian life drops into monotony and mediocrity (2 Corinthians 3:6).
In your spiritual pursuit, don’t replace the things of God (the disciplines) for the person of God.
Now, having said all that., let’s ask the question, “So what?” What’s the big deal– why should I practice the spiritual disciplines?
God has ordained the disciplines of the spiritual life as the means by which we place ourselves where He can bless us. Doing them does not make us grow– God does that… but without doing them, we can’t grow. By practicing them we can place ourselves in the position to collide with God’s grace, and it is there that spiritual growth becomes a reality.
I want to underscore something…good intentions aren’t going to make you holy. THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES, and the spiritual disciplines alone are the path to spiritual growth. They are required to grow.
So, what’s the point?
For each spiritual discipline we omit in our lives, we forfeit the corresponding grace; we simply lose out on the benefits produced by the practice of that discipline… and we need them all for spiritual maturity and balance in our lives.
If you’re interested in learning more about spiritual disciplines, I highly recommend Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. If you are interested in deepening your spiritual walk, this is a must read. It was named among the Top 10 Books of the last century by Christianity Today magazine.