Spiritual Discipline: My 7-Step Practice
Like exercise, spiritual discipline takes effort. It's about putting one foot after the next as we move toward the goal. Spiritual discipline comes in many different forms for Christians. This short post will give you a snapshot of my seven-step spiritual discipline practice.
Spiritual Discipline #1: Prayer and Devotional Reading
Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:19-20
Prayer Time With Spouse: My wife and I pray together every morning during "coffee time." It's a good time to ensure we are on the same page as a couple individually and collectively aligned with God. Each year, we select a 365-day devotional to include a reading with our prayer time. For 2024, we selected "Walking With God" by David Jeremiah. I highly recommend it!
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
Individual Prayer Time: Prayer, or conversations with the Holy Spirit, starts my day in a spirit of gratitude for all God has done. It is a way of getting closer to God and acknowledging that I must cleanse my heart, mind, and body daily. It is an active, intentional, and disciplined approach as I pick up my cross and walk the narrow road with Jesus.
Spiritual Discipline #2: Daily Bible Reading Plan
Jesus said, "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock." Matthew 7:24
This may seem unnecessary, but when I read my Bible, I listen to it simultaneously. I use the YouVersion Bible app on my phone. Prayer precedes my Bible reading because I want to "listen" to what God has to say instead of reading what I want Him to say. When I both read and listen simultaneously, I find that I hear His Words more clearly.
As with the 365 daily devotions, I select a different daily Bible reading plan. This ensures that I read the entire Bible every year. For 2024, I chose The 52 Week Bible Reading Plan by Michael Coley. This plan is less forgiving because it doesn't build in "catch-up" days. Nope. Every Sunday, you'll read from the Epistles: Monday in The Law, Tuesday in History, Wednesday in the Psalms, Thursday in Poetry, Friday in Prophesy, and Saturday in the Gospels. Yes, this Bible reading plan does require spiritual discipline.
In addition, my church (Trinity Baptist Church) has a Daily Bible Reading Plan for 2024. The daily readings for this plan are easily managed in about five minutes.
Spiritual Discipline #3: In-Depth Bible Study
I get the "Big Picture" from God as I listen to His Word from the daily Bible reading plan, but I select a specific Book for my in-depth Bible study. Currently, I'm studying Romans on a one-chapter each-week schedule. It's incredible how clearly one can hear God's voice when we are close to His Word for that long.
Spiritual Discipline #4: Scripture Memorization
Honestly, this is the first month I've committed to memorizing scripture. My method was simple: memorize whatever I found meaningful. However, I found a more structured plan by Josh Summers, the creator of Bible Memory Goal. I'm finding it very helpful (and manageable) as a supplement to my own method. Here's the link to Josh's free 52-verses to Memorize download.
Spiritual Discipline #5: Writing
Off The Bench Ministries Blog: Each blog post I write is a component of my spiritual discipline. In the past, I only wrote if I felt called to "write for--and about--God." The problem with this approach is discernment! It's easy to discern away writing because we question if it's really from God. Beginning in 2024, I'm writing because it gets me closer to God, challenges me to see all aspects of my life as God's purpose, and might be meaningful to even one person on this planet.
Bible Miscellanies: Unless you have a super-wide-margin Bible, you know how frustrating it can be to add your notes and thoughts. I always have more thoughts than I have room to record. I came across a Bible notetaking system that has proven helpful in connecting specific scripture verses with expanded notes in a separate "Miscellanies notebook." Watch Matthew Everhard explain the Best Bible Note-Taking System: Johnathan Edwards's Miscellanies.
Spiritual Discipline #6: Soul Winning!
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Mark 16: 15
I'll discuss "Soul Winning" in other posts, but for now, I just want you to see what I include in this category of spiritual discipline. What's most important is that God is doing the soul-winning, not me. I just show up and do what the Holy Spirit tells me. Sometimes, it is:
Be The Light: Make a conscious choice to greet someone with the intention to share the light. And, if you can, smell like Jesus, too!
Plant Some Seeds: Planting seeds can be anything from leaving gospel tracts to asking someone if they have heard of John 3:16. I'm shocked that some haven't!
Water the Seeds: I come across many people who claim Christianity but have no idea about how they are saved. These people need some "seed watering" to help them grow in their faith. A recommitment to Jesus seems to be a good place to start after presenting the Good News. It may be the first time they've heard it.
Reap a Harvest: I'm new to soul-winning and haven't personally led anyone to Jesus. However, I know God has a plan for this in the future!
Spiritual Discipline #7: Exercise
Finally, physical exercise is a critical component of my spiritual discipline. It's pretty standard and includes walking and jogging at least five miles six days per week. The great thing about walking and jogging is that prayer, "blog thoughts", and listening to the Bible are easily integrated. I also do pushups, crunches, and light weights seven days per week. I know Sunday needs to be a day of rest, but I'm flawed!
Spiritual discipline, like physical discipline, takes effort. However, I've found that I am getting closer to God by becoming more disciplined in prayer, Bible study, scripture memorization, writing, and soul-winning. I pray you'll consider reviewing your spiritual discipline. I'm certain your effort will pay off! God bless!