Owning the Spiritual Disciplines (Own Your Life Fridays)

Spiritual Disciplines

The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him.

Brother Lawrence

“Well, I don’t know, it’s just, like...” These words had barely slipped out of Joy’s mouth before my eyebrows raised at her and we both started laughing. Ever since she had returned during breaks from her university in Southern California, the word “like” frequently visited itself upon her vocabulary. Joy had never been a “like” girl before, but after a few months in the land of surfboards and juice shops, that word, along with the slow rhythm of the Southern California accent, had begun to work itself into her way of speaking.

“I don’t mean to, Mom! It’s just the way I hear all of the voices around me speaking, and I can’t help but let it slip in to the way I speak and think.” I believe that Joy’s “like” predicament exhibits the power of the voices to which we listen.

We live in a culture that loves to quote movies, books, and song lyrics. I marvel as I watch my kids hold almost entire conversations in quotes from their favorite characters from television and literature. I have realized that as my children engage in certain forms of media, those forms begin to shape their vocabulary and way of thinking.

The same is true of friend groups. I am amused to see best friends who inadvertently dress and speak like each other, or friend groups who all order similar coffee concoctions. It is a part of human nature that we naturally begin to emulate who or what we spend time with and on, respectively. Proverbs says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). We are formed by the voices that we allow to speak into our lives.

Cultivating the Practices That Deepen Your Faith

This is why spiritual disciplines are important. Cultivating such practices in your life creates a space in which one can be formed by the voice of God. In reading Scripture, we allow God’s truth to speak to our heart. In prayer, we listen for the whisper of the Holy Spirit. In honoring the Sabbath and resting, we train our hearts to rest in the knowledge that God will always provide. Spiritual disciplines remove distractions from our practice of faith, allowing the voice of God in our spirit to shape our vocabulary and our attitudes.

Women often say to me, “I’m too busy to have a quiet time or pray” or “I have young children and don’t ever seem to have free time” or “I don’t want to be legalistic about it.” When I hear this, I often respond with a question: “What voices are you allowing to shape your view of the world instead of Scripture and the Holy Spirit?” We are all in the business of listening to voices, and allowing various channels to broadcast over the rest.

I often find that when I don’t think I have time to listen to God, it is because I am busy prioritizing other voices. This is something that happens to the best of us. For some that may be wasting time on social media, putting an overemphasis on perfect housekeeping, or getting caught in an endless cycle of busyness. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong about social media, housekeeping, and a busy schedule. None of those things is necessarily bad, but nothing can replace the voice of God, and the value gained from time in His presence.

The spiritual disciplines are not about legalism, but about developing practices which tune your ear to the truth of Scripture, your will to the practice of faithfulness, and your heart to communion with God. My children are able to bring to mind the quotes of many of their favorite literary characters because of the time they have spent invested in reading. In the same way, as you invest time in Scripture, the Holy Spirit will begin to bring passages to your mind when you encounter difficult situations.

At the heart of any spiritual discipline is relationship with God. Genesis 3:8 says, “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

From the very beginning, God desired that we might share an intimate relationship with Him. His intention was that we would delight in our relationship with Him and reflect his image in us. Though the fall broke that relationship, Christ made a way for us to be once again in communion with God. God’s desire to be in relationship with us is the same as it was in Eden.

Spiritual disciplines do not take the place of that relationship, but rather, through the Holy Spirit, they give our impatient and sinful souls a way to engage with God. Because God delights in our relationship, He will always bless a heart that seeks to engage with Him.

 Buy a journal in which to write down all the things for which you are grateful or a list of your prayer requests. Be sure to write in it at least once a week. Then it will become a history of God's faithfulness in your life.

An excerpt from Own Your Life.

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