Four Spiritual Disciplines Every Christian Needs to Consider

These are spiritual disciplines found in the Bible that are important for laying a solid foundation for spiritual growth and maturity.

In a previous post, I shared about spiritual disciplines being a necessary tool for spiritual growth. This week I want to share some of what those disciplines are. 

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked...

...but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. -Psalm 1:1-3

I find that any discipline that worships and glorifies God without breaking his Law is acceptable. But it must be to glorify God and further relationship with Him. Not for your own gain or your own accomplishments. In fact, the most sacred acts of worship are done in secret.

These acts are most penetrated and effective when we do them on a regular {everyday} basis. They must be formed into disciplines in our lives.

Discipline means practice and nurture; to cultivate and nourish. It feeds our spiritual lives when we discipline ourselves to go deeper with Him.

Here are some of the spiritual disciplines I have found in the Bible as the most practiced and none should be new to you:

Prayer

Even Jesus needed to get away to pray to the Father. He needed strength and guidance to carry out his reason for being sent. We are definitely not above Jesus in needing guidance and strength to carry out our calling. Scripture shows he did this often and for an hour or more at a time. How much more do we need to be in prayer on a regular basis? We need to set aside regular times everyday. Not once in a while when we need something--finances or health or a break through. It's important to go to God for those things, absolutely. But they shouldn't be the only times we go to God.

Matthew 14:23

Matthew 26:39

Mark 1:35

Hebrews 5:7

Scripture Memorization

Psalm 119:11 says

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Memorizing scripture can only come from the discipline of practice. And what purpose is there in such an act? To be more than familiar with God's word--but rather to know it so well that it becomes a part of us. Memorizing is but a beginning. Memorizing ought not to be for the sake of memorizing and relishing in our own accomplishment. It should have one purpose: to glorify God. Not because we've memorized, but because the memorization {should} ultimately lead us to a deeper walk with Him and knowing Him more.

Psalm 37:31

Psalm 40:8

Bible Reading and Bible Study

Disciplining ourselves to read the Bible daily is an absolute must. There are so many tools out there to help us with this, there is really no excuse. Let me share something from experience. Don't trust other people to read and interpret the Bible for you - including your pastor.

You are responsible to feed yourself and understand the Word through the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, you are the one accountable to God for your life.  There are an array (endless) amount of people with vast opinions on what the Scriptures mean.

If we are ever to teach the Bible to anyone other then ourselves, {yes, including our children}, we had better be sure we know that what we teach is Truth, and not a rendition of what we want it to say.

We will be held accountable for that as well -- and so will all the other teachers, writers, bloggers, and pastors out there. Be sensitive to the Spirit and His counsel on understanding God's Word. Lean not on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5), or on the wisdom of men (1 Corinthians 2:5).

I'm not implying men cannot teach God's word accurately -- they can, but only with the Spirit's revealing. It's up to us to check and be sure what is being taught (or what we are reading) is Truth--whether it "sounds" right, or not.

Fasting

I don't hear much about fasting these days, which may actually be a good thing because the Bible does say to do this in secret (Matthew 6:13). I'll be honest, I haven't fasted in quite a long time due to being pregnant and nursing consistently for 9+ years. As a result, I am out of practice. But my husband has. There is something beautiful, humbling, and changing about denying yourself something and trusting God (really trusting Him) to sustain you.

The Bible addresses fasting to help answer prayer. But it's not fasting alone, it's faith. And it's not faith as in "if you believe hard enough...", it's faith that you believe God is Who He says He is and He's going to do what He said He's going to do." Bottom line--if it doesn't line up with the Word, it's not of God. God is the Word.

As I cautioned in my post last week

If these disciplines are done as merely habit, ritual, or tradition and lack heart and desire to further grow, they will be of no value to your walk with Christ.

These practices are meant to deny yourself and allow more of Christ to dwell in you. It helps the flesh die in so many ways. It kills wrong thinking, it allows us to give of our time, it gives us hope and helps us fight off the enemy. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, he used Scripture to fight Satan's temptations.

Do not underestimate the importance of having a disciplined spiritual life. It lays a solid foundation for you to walk out your days and essentially your life.