Spiritual discipline: any activity I can do by direct effort that will help me do what I cannot now do by direct effort. For example, if I begin to consistently exercise by walking and running a mile. Eventually I will be able to run that distance. I therefore am able to do something I was not able to do by doing something I was able to do.
Spiritual discipline: any activity that can help me gain power to live life as Jesus taught and modeled it. Initially, I don’t have a tendency to think like Jesus thinks or acts. If I read and meditate on Scriptures, my mid can be renewed, and my thought patterns can change and eventually I begin to think and progress more like Christ would than like my natural inclinations.
A disciplined person is someone who can do the right thing at the right time in the right way with the right spirit.
“If I struggle with a sin of commission, I will generally be helped by practicing a discipline of abstinence.
“If I struggle with a sin of omission, I will usually be most helped by a discipline of engagement.”
The Life You’ve Always Wanted – John Ortberg
Spiritual disciplines should always be means to spiritual ends, never ends in themselves.
Spiritual disciplines are external practices that reflect and reinforce internal aspirations, not simply the fruit of willpower.
“I can’t make the spiritual changes that I want on my own. What I can do, however, is talk with God honestly about the realities of my soul.”
Desiring God’s Will – David G. Benner
“In Keeping the Heart, John Flavel, a 17th century English Puritan, notes that the ‘greatest difficulty in conversion, is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion, is to keep the heart with God…Heart work is hard work indeed.’
“The devotional masters write much about training the heart in two opposite directions: contemmptus mundi, out being torn loose from all earthly attachments and ambitions, and amor mundi, our being quickened to a divine but painful compassion for the world.”
Spiritual Formation Agenda – Christianity Today – Jan. 2009 – Richard Foster
The spiritual mentor guides the disciple in the regular practice of healthy spiritual habits. We form spiritual disciplines, and in time they form us.
Qualities of a Spiritual Helper: Satisfy Your Soul (Dr. Bruce Demarest)
- Should be a person of vital Christian faith
- Should possess knowledge (a good understanding of Scripture, theology, the spiritual classics, and the psyche)
- Should be a person of loving concern
- Should possess discernment
- Has experienced some suffering and failure in life (A person who has known the comforts of heaven and brokenness and can deal redemptively with doubt, betrayal, and failure.)
Spiritual Disciplines: Celebration of Discipline (Richard Foster)
- Inward Disciplines
- Outward Disciplines
- Corporate Disciplines
The Spirit of the Disciplines (Dallas Willard)
- Disciplines of Abstinence
- Disciplines of Engagement
Our life is to be marked by conversion, regeneration, conformation, and transformation. “Christ actively engaged in the practices of solitude, silence, prayer, simple and sacrificial giving, intense study and meditation upon God Words and God’s ways, and service to others.” (The Spirit of the Disciplines- Dallas Willard)