Spiritual Disciplines

But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
—1 Timothy 4:7-8

Wouldn’t it be great if you could combine physical and spiritual workouts? Imagine…

Your roommate: “Nice abs.”
You: “Thanks. Three hours in the prayer closet this morning. Gives you a killer burn.”

Or this: “Hey. I’ve been reading a lot in Leviticus lately. Do my biceps look bigger to you?”

Okay, so I have no idea why your roommate is checking out your abs, but you get the idea. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way. If you want to get more physically healthy, you’ve got to watch your diet and hit the gym.  Spiritual health is exactly the same. Watch what you take in—through television, the internet, video games, and even some relationships. And practice spiritual disciplines. As the Apostle Paul puts it, “Rather, train yourself in Godliness.”

But how do we do that? What does it mean to “train yourself in Godliness?” Well, basically, just like there’s a bunch of ways to get a good physical workout, so there are a bunch of ways to get a good spiritual workout. I’m listing a few below, you might want to try few…

PRAYER. (Philippians 4:6) Everyone prays, right? I mean prayer is simply talking to God and pretty much everyone talks to God at least off and on. Especially around mid-terms and finals! But that’s not what we’re talking about here. As a discipline, prayer should be a little more organized. A little more systematic. So, yes, pray whenever you want. That’s awesome. But as a discipline, consider making plan to pray, a chart perhaps, or a prayer journal. That’s disciplined prayer.

READING the Word of God. The Bible is like a set of weights, Creatine and StairMaster all rolled up in one. The more you immerse yourself in God’s word, the better off you’ll be. Some Bibles have reading plans in them, you can get one on the internet (yes, there’s an app for that), or you might pick one up in a pamphlet at church. If it’s a priority, you’ll do it. No excuses. Get after it!

  • Quick Tip: 31 Chapters in Proverbs, 31 days in most months… just sayin’.
  • Quick Tip 2: 150 Psalms. Five a day for a month and you’re done. Save Psalm 119 for day 31 though. It’s a bear! Start every 30 for variety—1, 31, 61, 91, 121 for instance.
  • Quick tip 3: 23 chapters a week will get you through the Bible in a year!

STUDYING. ( Acts 17:11) Bible study doesn’t have to be rocket science. Pick a passage of interest and read it in 5 different translations. Quick and dirty. Each translation will give you a better understanding of the passage as a whole. Just watch out for weird translations!

If reading the Bible can be compared to cruising the width of a clear, sparkling lake in a motorboat, studying the Bible is like slowly crossing that same lake in a glass-bottomed boat. —Donald Whitney

MEDITATION. (Psalm 1:1-3) NOT NAVEL GAZING. This is simply pondering over the thoughts of God as they are revealed in Scripture. Beth Moore said, “Eat it before you Tweet it!” She means we need to process through all we’re learning. Chew on it, bounce it around in your head. ..

HEARING. (Luke 11:28 & Romans 10:17) One, clear your head, be ready to listen with your ears, your head and your heart. Second, go to church. Or download a podcast of a sermon. Or buy the Bible on iTunes. Yes, there’s an app for that too. No excuses. If Sunday morning is too much to ask, and I totally understand that feeling, by the way, then consider what you’re doing on Saturday night. I dare you to find something of any redeeming value that you were doing after midnight on Saturday. Go to bed. You have church in the morning.

MEMORIZING. (Psalm 119:11 & Hebrew 4:12) Hide God’s word in your heart. There is no better way to hear His voice, no greater way to get it in your head, than to etch it into your mind. And before you say, “I can’t”, ask yourself whether or not you are mentally challenged. Unless you qualify for the Special Olympics, you CAN. (And I’m willing to bet a lot of those people can memorize scripture too!)

JOURNALING. Make a memorial; raise your Ebenezer (1 Samuel 7:11). Start with just a simple explanation of your day’s activities. Let it flow from there. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to turn that into a letter to God. And you’ll be amazed how valuable it becomes to you later in life!

A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months, or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God’s boundless store of grace from day to day as we need it. —D. L. Moody

READ: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

THINK: The Apostle Paul understands that if you want to get good at something, you’ve got to train at it, to practice. Similarly, we must practice if we want to get better at those things that will draw us toward God. You will fail, especially at first, but that’s not an excuse to keep trying.

PRAY: Thank God for loving you enough to give you His Word. Because we live in such a free society, we tend to take certain things for granted, like scripture. But what if you couldn’t read it because you were illiterate? Or if it was illegal to have it your possession? Enjoy it while you can, and give thanks for the privilege.

ACT: The most successful people in the gym tend to have three things in common: A plan of what they’re going to do, a pattern that keeps things simple for them to follow, and a partner who will be there to exhort and encourage them and to hold them accountable. Do you have these things in place for spiritual exercise? Make it happen!

RESOURCES: The One Year Bible is a great place from which to read. Good stuff. And Bible Gateway is a great place to start studying from.

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