There are certain daily practices called spiritual disciplines – such as prayer, meditation and Bible study – that are essential in order to grow spiritually. Spiritual discipline is intentional. It is a decision we make to draw close to and stay connected to God as we live out our lives here on the earth. Is it easy? No! Can it be attained? Yes! Let’s talk about how. Here are some key spiritual disciplines and some helpful steps to get you started.
How to do this prayer practice:
1. Become educated about the use of spiritual disciplines.
Spiritual Discipline is simply learned behavior that facilitates spiritual growth. Spiritual Discipline helps Christians realize that we live in grace and by grace, not works. It helps us to keep the main things the main things.
|One Bible commentary describes self discipline this way: “Self-mastery (“soberly” in NKJV) is self-government or self-control, the foundation of a strong godly life, growth, and producing fruit. If a person cannot govern himself, if he cannot master his passions, he will certainly not have a good relationship with his fellowman or God. His life will likely be marked by major excesses.” (From Forerunner Commentary)|
Exercising spiritual disciplines are a “decision” that every Christian must make if we desire to “abide” in Christ. Abiding in Christ is denying self as is recorded in Luke 9:23-24 ”If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it”.
2. Ask God to help you make time for Him.
We all desire a closer walk with Jesus Christ but there are so many things that are constantly crying out for our attention, sometimes it is difficult to know where to start. Just as other things are constantly crying out to us for attention so God is also constantly crying out for our attention. He longs for us to spend time with Him and it blesses God when we do!
Matthew 6:33 comes to mind here “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”.
God understands that there are things that we must do to maintain life. God understands that we have to balance our work, household responsibilities, and family obiligations. God even understands that we need times of leisure, rest and relaxation, and fun!
God desires for His children to live a balanced life but we must make sure that we discern what kind of things warrant our attention and if they are of God or from the enemy. The enemy will bombard us with so much stuff as a means to distract us from being obedient to spending quality time with God. This is one of Satan’s greatest weapons, to keep us so busy with stuff that we don’t have time to spend with God. The sad part is that this is also an area where our advesary often times wins.
All my life, even before I became a Christian, when things started to get crazy in my life and my time is threatened, I sit down and write out everything I have going on. After I write it all down I begin to draw a line across everything that can and will be eliminated! I then move forward with making that happen.
Sometimes I have to admit that I have over committed and I have to bow out of some things gracefully. You may also have to do that in order to make a decision to draw close to God. God will honor your decision and He will help you sort through it all and make provisions for you to do it.
Putting God first is a matter of learning the spiritual disciplines and how to exercise them in our life. Spiritual disciplines were designed to draw us closer to God. Applying Spiritual Disciplines to our life makes life so much better, it makes our relationships better, and it brings peace in our hearts which trickles down to every other areas of life. I remember walking pass one the executives’ offices at a former place of employment and seeing a sign on their door that said “In heavy analysis, please do not disturb.” We all need a place where we can hang a sign and go and shut the door and be alone with Jesus.
3. Set aside time for the Spiritual Discipline of Prayer
The spiritual discipline of prayer is putting aside a time each day to talk to God. Even though God is omniscient (knowing all) He desires for us to come to Him to worship before Him, to give Him praise and thanks and to bring all of our concerns before Him. Prayer is also how we confess our sins to God and receive forgiveness.
In Prayer, God meets us where we are. We get into trouble when we start to believe that we have to come to God with an agenda to prove ourselves righteous. God desires a broken and a contrite heart towards our sinfulness. This is what pleases Him. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise”. (Psalm 51:17 NASB)
Think about it, in any relationship, in order for it to grow and be nurtured, you have to spend time getting to know the person through regular communication. Why do we think any differently with our relationship with God? We must do the same thing but to an even greater extent to grow and nurture our relationship with Him.
Our relationship with God is the only unique relationship we will ever have where we can tell all. Some of us have great relationships with each other but we will never get to a place where we feel comfortable telling, and baring all. This is why our relationship with God is so unique because we can be naked before Him and not have to worry about it being repeated. Believe me, if the Holy Spirit reveals something about you to another believer, He trusts that person with your sensitive information and He also knows that you are in a season to receive from the person He has entrusted with you.
With God we don’t have to ever wonder but we can be open and honest. It is through our honesty with God in prayer that He meets us where we are. If we are not honest with God with our stuff then God cannot meet us where we are not willing to go. We must get to a place of a regularly scheduled prayer time with God. If you have not practiced this discipline, start off slowly with 5-10 minutes a day. You will see how quickly those 5-10 minutes grow and before you know it you will begin to treasure your time with God! That is what building a relationship is all about!
4. Practice the Spiritual Discipline of Silence and Solitude.
Silence and Solitude is a spiritual discipline that is a way for us to keep alert to the presence of God. When I speak to intercessors, I often mention that as intercessors, we often talk too much. The book of Proverbs has so many reminders to us that a lot of chatter is not necessarily a good thing unless it edifies and encourages another. Even in encouragement, know when to draw the line and don’t overdue it or keep repeating what you have already said. Too much talk is just a huge turnoff for many people. We fail to realize that people don’t want to be overwhelmed and that is what too much talking can do. .
Proverbs 10:19 says “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” Ecclesiastes 5:3 says “For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.” It is good to keep silent. Still water runs deep!
Silence and solitude is mostly for us, for renewal, for restoration, and reconciliation. It is in our place of solitude and silence that God speaks to us. Learn to treasure silence and solitude and watch and see how God will speak to you during that time and bring things to your rememberance. God cannot speak to us when we are busy talking, when we are planning what we will say or when we are anxious and weary and our thoughts are all over the place. Silence and solitude help us to relax and focus our thoughts on things that are above.
Silence and solitude are spiritual disciplines that I often practice before I go before the Lord in prayer. It prepares me to go into His presence and opens up the avenue for the Holy Spirit to take over that time with God. The Bible warns us about not being in a hurry to enter the Lords presence. Ecclesiastes 5:2 says “Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few”.
5. Develop the Spiritual Discipline of Studying God’s Word
We study the word of God by engaging ourselves with the written and spoken word of God and applying it to our life and needs. We have to study the word of God in order to know the word of God. As believers we come to know the word and stand on the word through faith. Faith comes through the word of God. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Ezra 7:10 says “For Ezra had set in his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statues and ordinances in Israel.
Engage in the Spiritual Discipline of Fasting
Fasting is one of the least practiced of spiritual disciplines. Why is that? For one it causes us to really have to deny our flesh and if you have been walking with the Lord long enough you know that is one of the hardest things a believer will ever have to
God requires His children to fast! Matthew 6:16 says “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypcocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting”. Notice that the verse begins with “whenever” not with when you decide or when you feel like it, or when it is convenient for you. What is important to know is that we are required to fast. Set aside a specific day of the week that you will committ to fasting for at least 12 hours. If you are not acustomed to fasting then start off slow by perhaps fasting one meal (breakfast) for the particular day you have set aside to fast. If you get into the regular routine of fasting once a week or once a month then your body, spirit, and mind will become accustomed to it and it becomes automatic, a learned behavior that brings for spiritual rewards for you, your family, and your church.
Aslo know that there will be times when God will call you to a specific fast for a specific reason for a specific period of time. If you fast regularly then it will not be such a struggle to be obedient when God calls you to a fast for longer periods of time.
God reminds us according to Matthew 17:21 “But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.” We need to fast because God gives clear direction when we fast. Acts 13:2 says “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” We have to fast sometimes for certain decision that need to be made and to destroy of the works of the devil.
6. Develop the Spiritual Discipline of Mediation
The discipline of mediation is listening, sensing and heeding the life and light of Jesus Christ. As is recorded in the book of John 10:27”My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”.
Joshua 1: 8-9 is another reminder that God calls us to mediate on His word:
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
7. Practice the Spiritual Discipline of Submission
The ultimate act of submission is Jesus’ death on the cross. We must submit in obedience to the will of God always. In order to be able to practice submission as a lifestyle you must first learn to submit to others. Submission is not easy especially when we think we know it all or have done it all. As believers of Christ we are servants of the kingdom of God and to one another but problems arise when somebody treats us that way. Jesus Christ came that He might serve and not to be served, how can we think more highly of ourselves than God who came in the flesh.
Also be in submission to your leaders and those in authority over you. How is it that you desire God to place you in a position of authority where people will be commanded to submit to your authority when you find it challenging to submit to the authority of one that God has called you to serve with? Submission is in obedience to God and it is absolutely a necessity in order to go to the next level. Hebrews 13:17 says “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” You submit for the Lords sake 1 Peter 2:13 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority”.
8. Engage in the Spiritual Discipline of Service
The spirit of service reveals, in part, the individual’s heart and life. It is God who equips us to serve and God is very concerned with how we serve because it exposes the condition of our heart.
Service is not an option in the body of Christ. The Intercessory Prayer Ministry is the Priestly line and so God will forgive the sins of the body when we come asking because He honors the Priestly role that He has given unto us. 1 Chronicles 23:28 says “For their office is to assist the sons of Aaron with service of the house of the LORD, in the courts and in the chambers and in the purifying of all things, even the work of the service of the house of God.
How we serve is a witness to others. Joshua 22:27 says “rather it shall be a witness between us and you and between our generations after us, that we are to perform the service of the LORD before Him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices and with our peace offerings, so that your sons will not say to our sons in time to come, “You have no portion in the LORD.”‘ 1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God”.
Copyright Sondra Green 2012. All rights reserved. http://www.tmprayerinstitute.org