A “spiritual discipline” is a devotional and physical activity. There are many spiritual disciplines.
But we will focus on seven of the most common. These practices engage our hearts and minds to focus on God (Rom. 12:1-2).
Above all, they draw us into a more intimate relationship with God. In effect, they place us in front of God so that he can transform us.
Spiritual disciplines replace old destructive habits of thought with new life-giving practices. The result makes us more Christ-like (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Consequently, they transform our whole person. For instance our:
- Thoughts (Rom. 12:3)
- Speech (James 3:2–12)
- Behavior (Rom. 14:20–21)
I. Do You Need a Spiritual “Reboot?”
Have you ever resolved a computer problem by rebooting it?
I am a Luddite with technology. I didn’t know about rebooting in the early years of laptop computers.
To illustrate, I spent Saturday and Sunday trying to resolve a computer problem one weekend. I looked online and wrote emails trying to get help.
However, I was afraid to turn off the computer for fear it would only make matters worse.
Finally, I was so frustrated by Sunday night that I closed everything down and went to bed.
The following day, I turned on my computer, and to my utter amazement, everything was working. In short, the magic of the reboot!
How is your faith right now? Does it feel dry and unfulfilling?
Maybe you need a “spiritual reboot.”
II. Seven Spiritual Disciplines
Here are seven spiritual disciplines. These Bible-prescribed activities will get you back to enjoying your relationship with God.
1. Devotional Bible Reading
The first of the spiritual disciplines is devotional Bible reading. “Devotions” are, in effect, time alone with God to talk to and listen to Him.
Devotions integrate the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-14; 1 Cor. 2:9-16), coupled with Scripture meditation and memorization. Most importantly, the goal is to have a personal encounter with God.
In effect, the practice of private devotions internalizes and personalizes the passage. Overall, it makes the Scripture an individual message addressed to you.
Memorizing Bible passages 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 especially for handling life’s challenges (Josh. 1:8).
A second of the spiritual disciplines is prayer. On the one hand, prayer responds to God’s presence (Jer. 29:13). While simultaneously seeking God to 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 method of prayer, for instance, is “ACTS.” ACTS stands for adoration (praise), confession (our sin), thanksgiving, and supplication (asking). Another method is praying through the psalms.
The third spiritual discipline is fasting. Fasting focuses on self-denial. We abstain from eating food for some time (while still drinking water/other beverages). During the fast, we focus on and connect with God through intensive prayer.
Fasting reminds us that it is God who sustains us. A typical fast, for example, 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.
The fourth of the spiritual disciples is simplicity. Simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle.
- Simplicity begins with an inward focus
- We seek the righteousness of God’s kingdom (Matt. 6:25-33).
- We trust God for everything and freely share it with others
Inner simplicity affects how we live. It removes anything that distracts us from God’s kingdom.
- Our speech becomes honest and straightforward
- We buy only 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 of the spiritual disciplines is solitude (Phil. 4:8). Jesus often withdrew to lonely, quiet, and intimate places to pray (Mark 1:35).
We can also 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, listen to Him (Ps. 104:34), and ponder his Word (Ps. 1).
The sixth spiritual discipline is service. More than any other spiritual discipline, “service” shows our humility.
When we choose to be a servant, we:
- Firstly, give up the right to be in charge
- Secondly, become available and vulnerable
- Thirdly, surrender our right to determine who and when we will serve
In reality, nothing disciplines our selfishness and transforms our pridefulness like serving in hiddenness. Undeniably, Jesus is the preeminent example of serving others (Mark 10:45; Phil. 2:1-11).
The seventh of the spiritual disciplines is worship. Worship is unquestionably experiencing the immediate presence of God. We can worship either alone or in a 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 early church found in the Bile is gathering in “holy expectancy.” We, too, should come to worship, expecting God to be present, as much as the early Church did (Acts 2:2, 4:31).
We expect Christ to be explicitly in our midst, teaching and touching us with his living power by his Spirit. And in the same way, we begin worship in holy expectancy; we leave with a call to serve others (Isa. 6:8).
III. What’s Your Next Step With the Spiritual Disciplines?
How are you doing with these seven spiritual disciplines? All things considered, like the rest of us, you could probably improve in some or all of them.
Is there one spiritual discipline that could “reboot” your spiritual life?
This week practice or improve one of the spiritual disciplines. You won’t be perfect at first. That’s ok. But stick with it.
For example, you may want to:
- Use the time you spend reading the Bible to meditate and memorize passages
- Seek to have God’s Word become an intimate message by relying on the Holy Spirit to illuminate Scripture
- Spend quiet time praying using ACTS. Prepare and pray Scripture for each of the four parts
- Perhaps you could try a “trial run” 12 hour fast of only liquids, spending time focusing on prayer
- Consider serving others in a way that gives you no credit
- Choose not to purchase “things” just because you can. Instead, seek to put it to a non-selfish use
It doesn’t matter where you start. Plan to add or improve on another discipline each subsequent week or month.
As you do, your God seems nearer. Your contentment intensifies. And the joy of serving others is more rewarding.
- Whitney, D. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Updated 20thAnniversary Edition. Navpress, 2014
- 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).