Spiritual Disciplines are those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth. They are the habits of devotion and experiential Christianity that have been practiced by the people of God since biblical times. Some common spiritual disciplines are:
scripture intake — prayer — worship — stewardship — community life — commitment — sacrifice — joy
service — fasting — silence — learning — sacraments — submission — simplicity — spiritual direction
confession — celebration — presence — participation — evangelization — sharing — tithing — encouragement
Whatever the Discipline, its most important feature is its purpose. Just as there is little value in practicing the scales on a guitar or piano apart from the purpose of playing music, there is little value in practicing Spiritual Disciplines apart from the single purpose that unites them – pursuit of godliness. Spiritual Disciplines are the God-given means we are to use in the Spirit-filled pursuit of Godliness.
God uses three primary catalysts for changing us and conforming us to Christlikeness. One catalyst the Lord uses to change us is people. “As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man.” (Prov. 27:17) Sometimes God uses our friends or family members to sharpen us into more Christlike living, and sometimes He uses our enemies to file away our rough, ungodly edges.
Another change agent God uses in our lives is circumstances (Romans 8:28). Financial pressures, physical conditions, even the weather are used in the hands of God to stimulate His chosen people toward holiness.
The third catalyst is the catalyst of the Spiritual Disciplines. Whereas the first two catalysts work from the outside in, the disciplines work from the inside out. Another difference from “people” and “circumstances” is that we have the freedom of choice as to whether we practice this discipline or that discipline. But even the most iron-willed self-discipline will not automatically make us more holy. We know that growth in holiness is truly a gift from God and we realize that through exercise of Spiritual Disciplines we can spur our growth in holiness.
God has given us the Spiritual Disciplines as a means of receiving His grace and growing in Godliness. By practicing the Spiritual Disciplines we place ourselves in the path of God’s grace and seek Him much as Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus placed themselves in Jesus’ path and sought Him. The Spiritual disciplines are also like channels of God’s transforming grace. As we place ourselves in them to seek communion with Christ, His grace flows to us and we are changed.
Part of our BCBP Commitment involves the practice of Spiritual Disciplines. Which of the above-mentioned disciplines do you feel are operative in your life as of now? What other ones do you intend to put into practice; how will you do this?
Cite an instance wherein the Lord disciplined you, using one or more of the Spiritual Disciplines. Did this contribute to your growth in holiness? How?