Have you ever experienced an issue with your computer that was resolved by merely restarting the machine? In the early years of portable computers, I was such a Luddite with technology that I didn’t know about rebooting. If you had mentioned the term back then, I would have assumed it was a website about cobblers.
I spent Saturday and Sunday looking online and writing emails to a software company trying to get help. By Sunday night, I was so frustrated I just closed everything down and went to bed. On Monday, I turned on my computer, and to my utter amazement, everything was working. The magic of the reboot!
How is your faith right now? Does it feel dry and unfulfilling? Maybe you need a “spiritual reboot.” Here are seven Bible-prescribed activities called spiritual disciplines that will get you back to enjoying your relationship with God.
What Are Spiritual Disciplines?
“Spiritual disciplines” are devotional and physical activities that engage our hearts and minds to focus on God (Rom. 12:1-2). The disciplines place us in front of God so that he can transform us.
These disciplines replace old destructive habits of thought with new life-giving habits promoting spiritual intimacy with God and making us more Christ-like (2 Tim. 3:16-17). And they are meant to transform our whole person:
- Thoughts (Rom. 12:3)
- Speech (James 3:2–12)
- And behavior (Rom. 14:20–21.
1. Devotional Bible Reading
First is the spiritual discipline of devotional Bible reading. “Devotions” are meant to be time alone with God to talk to and listen to Him.
This time integrates the Holy Spirit, Scripture meditation, and memorization to have a personal encounter with God.
- The Holy Spirit and meditation on Scripture internalizes and personalizes the passage so that the Bible becomes an individual message addressed to you.
- Memorizing Scripture enables more effective prayer and meditation. It also places Jesus at the forefront of our minds instead of the world’s clutter and noise.
Devotions are essential daily preparation for handling life’s challenges (Josh. 1:8).
A second spiritual discipline is prayer. Prayer responds to God’s presence (Jer. 29:13) to communicate with God and have him transform us (James 4:3).
A successful prayer life depends on our abiding faith (Matt. 21:21–22) and trust in God (John 15:5–8), especially during life’s challenging circumstances (1 Thess. 5:17). One approach to praying is using the ACTS outline of adoration (praise), confession (our sin), thanksgiving, and supplication (asking).
Fasting is a spiritual discipline focusing on self-denial. We abstain from eating for some time (while still drinking water/other beverages) to focus on and connect with God through intensive prayer.
Fasting reminds us that it is God who sustains us. A typical fast is one day without food (Dan. 6:18) or food and water (Dan. 9:3). Other fasts can last three, seven, or forty days (2 Sam. 12:16–20; Matt. 4:2; Acts 9:9), but these usually take practice in the area of fasting before engaging.
Fourth is simplicity: an inward reality that results in an outward life-style.
- Simplicity begins with an inward focus of first seeking the righteousness of God’s kingdom (Matt. 6:25-33): we trust God for everything and freely share it with others
- This inner simplicity affects how we live by putting away anything that distracts us from God’s kingdom
Our speech becomes honest and straightforward. We only purchase essential items while learning to enjoy things we don’t have to own. And we grow in our contentment with the Lord and his spiritual and physical provision (Phil. 4:10-13; Matt. 6:25-34).
A fifth discipline is solitude (Phil. 4:8). Jesus often withdrew to lonely, quiet, and intimate places to pray (Mark 1:35). Similarly, we should seek solitude with God, away from the distractions and noise of the world. These times nurture our soul. We use this time to draw close to God, listening to Him (Ps. 104:34) and pondering on his Word (Ps. 1).
Sixth is service. More than any other discipline, this shows our humility.
When we choose to be a servant, we give up the right to be in charge. When we decide to be a servant, we become available and vulnerable, surrendering our right to determine who and when we will serve. Nothing disciplines our selfishness and transforms our pridefulness like serving in hiddenness. Jesus is the preeminent example of serving others (Mark 10:45; Phil. 2:1-11).
The seventh spiritual discipline is worship. To worship is to experience the immediate presence of God with the gathered community of believers.
The object of our worship is Jesus (Matt. 4:10). We worship the Lord not only because of who he is but also because of what he has done (Rom. 12:1).
A striking feature of worship in the Bible is that people gathered in what we could only call a “holy expectancy.” We come to worship, expecting God to be present, just like the early Church (Acts 2:2, 4:31). We anticipate Christ to be in our midst, teaching and touching us with his living power by his Spirit. And just as worship begins in holy expectancy, we leave with a call to serve others (Isa. 6:8).
Chances are that there is at least one of these disciplines that you could grow in to refresh (or “reboot”) your spiritual life that might feel bland. Pick one discipline to practice this week for the first time, or with an increased commitment, and pray that God will begin to show himself clearly to you as you keep taking steps forward to know him better.
- Foster, Richard J. (1988) Celebration of Discipline (Rev. ed.) New York, NY: Harper-Row.
- Willard, Dallas. “Personal Soul Care” at https://dwillard.org/articles/personal-soul-care (accessed September 8, 2020).