I need to let you in on something.
I love engaging with Jesus through the spiritual disciplines. Things like prayer, bible meditation, worship, fellowship, solitude, developing community amongst the poor, and so forth.
I need to let you in on something else
I use to despise many of the spiritual disciplines. For me, fasting never went fast enough.
But, here is the rub. The reason I experienced such resistance to practicing many of the spiritual disciplines is because I didn’t understand why I was doing what I was trying to do.
So, I am going to write a couple of posts that focuses on why we engage in the spiritual disciplines along with a few ideas on how to get started on what might become a new adventure in your experience of being a Christ-follower.
First, here is what I have learned so far in my own journey.
We don’t do spiritual disciplines for the sake of doing spiritual disciplines.
Spiritual disciplines are a means, not the goal.
We engage in spiritual disciplines for two reasons:
To cultivate intimacy with Jesus, and to increase our awareness of God and the world
all through our everyday ordinary life.
Four years ago I was in a cohort at a spiritual direction school in Cincinnati. During the first weekend of our school our teacher asked us to add two new spiritual disciplines to our existing life with Christ.
After a few of us asked for his advice on how to decide which disciplines to consider, he instructed us to enquire of the Lord as to how He would like us to follow Him in the coming eight months of our ‘cohort’. He asked us to spend some time in prayer and to simply ask the Lord a question along these lines.
“ Jesus, what are some ways you would like me to spend time with you over the next eight months that would deepen my relationship with you and would also help me love others the same way you love me?”
For me, this way of praying opened up an exciting, adventure-filled approach to the spiritual disciplines.
A few months ago I read a great book by Trevor Hudson, ‘Discovering your Spiritual Identity’, and he echoed this idea of practicing disciplines for the sake of others: ‘Practices of Spiritual Disciplines that do not result in others, especially those closest to us, feeling more valued and loved are hollow and empty.’
There is no higher priority for practicing spiritual disciplines other than the hope of becoming the kind of person whose heart is to love as Christ loved.
Consider how you approach your practice of the spiritual disciplines.
Let Jesus in on the process of trying to decide how to spend time with Him. Listen to His invitation of ‘Follow Me’ as He leads you towards deeper intimacy with Him AS WELL AS develop greater awareness of how the Father is at work all around you. (That is a subject for the next post)
Why not give it a try right now, “Jesus, what actions are you inviting me to join you in over the next seven days that will deepen my relationship with you, and teach me to love others as you love me.”
Now, the challenge for you is to decide how to respond to his invitation.
Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.