I hope you have enjoyed this month’s columns about spiritual disciplines. Take these columns and use them to pursue godliness. For this last column I’ve highlighted two practices that must be included in your spiritual disciplines plan: daily and seasonal actions.
Follow the pattern laid out in Scripture for daily practices. In the Bible there are two spiritual disciplines we are to use every day: Scripture reading and prayer. Foremost, Scripture needs to be consumed daily. We spiritually live on the words of God (Matthew 4:4).
I love how one preacher talks about his Bible reading and study routine, “No Bible, no breakfast,” and “I let the light in before I turn the light out.” These phrases teach us good habits to practice. We should start the day with Scripture and before we go to sleep at night we end with Scripture.
Of course, this daily intake of Bible is a habit that God recommends, too: “Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” Psalm 1.
In the same way, prayer also needs to be part of our daily spiritual discipline habits. Paul reminds us, “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests….” Ephesians 6:18. The spiritual discipline of prayer needs to happen in quiet, alone spaces—just between you and God—as Jesus commands, but also together with other believers as is modeled in the Bible: “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray…,” Paul tells us in his letter to Timothy.
A good way to work this plan is to tie your prayer life to your morning and evening Scripture intake, and try to find another brother or sister in Christ to pray with daily. For those of you with families, praying over a meal, before school, and at bedtimes are perfect ways to start growing this practice. If you are single, it takes a little more effort to find a person to pray with, but it can and should be done.
We should practice daily spiritual disciplines, but the Bible also gives us examples and commands for behaviors that are more seasonal in nature. Seasonal means there are certain spiritual disciplines that will grow me right now and certain ones I need to use later, and vice versa.
These disciplines include fasting, silence, simplicity, celebration, and confession. We are commanded or shown how to do all of these in Scripture, but not with the same urgency as daily Scripture intake and prayer.
There is so much more to say about spiritual growth, maturing in Christ, and the practice of spiritual disciplines. If you want some more information from the experts read these books: Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney, and The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard.
I’m no expert, but I am learning! You can contact me at [email protected] with your comments or questions.
Dale McCamish is Senior Minister of the Wilmington Church of Christ.