Monday, May 1, 2017

The Top Ten Spiritual Disciplines

Discipline is a bad word in our modern world.  Probably since the Romantic movement, the idea of perspiration, rather than inspiration, seems inauthentic, or perhaps, even phony.  And yet, we all know that most worthwhile things in life, require time, effort, practice, and yes, discipline. 

We've all seen poorly disciplined children create havoc and headaches for those they torment.  A poorly disciplined sports team gets beat - a lot (see the Texas Longhorns football team and Arsenal football club).  Those with no financial discipline suffer the consequences.  An undisciplined person who eats poorly and refuses to exercise, usually looks worse, feels worse, and quite often, lives a shorter and less healthy life.  Smart kids typically do well in school, but disciplined kids often excel in the academic world.  I could go on and on and on.  But I won't.  You get it - discipline is important.

Okay, I'll go on just a little more.  Even in the world of the arts, discipline plays a crucial role.  The writer, the painter, and the musician spend hours and hours working at their craft.  In fact, it's been said that most skills in life take at least 10,000 hours of practice before one becomes competent in a given field. 

But for some strange reason, when it comes to spirituality, discipline is not looked upon as favorably as it is in many other arenas of life.  I think that there is an assumption that in spiritual matters, inspiration far outweighs perspiration (once again, the Romantic movement, as well as some post-Reformation thinking contributes to this view). 

But anyone who has had a long and strong relationship with Jesus will confirm that practicing spiritual discipline is essential for growth in one's knowledge, understanding, and application of the Christian faith.  However, practicing the spiritual disciplines is more of an art, than a science.  There are a variety of disciplines to engage in and a variety of ways to engage those disciplines.  Here's a short list of some common spiritual disciplines that have been practiced over the past 2,000 years.  In fact, let's just make a Top 10 List... 

1. Prayer
2. Bible Study
3. Worship
4. Confession
5. Mediation
6. Solitude
7. Community Life
8. Service
9. Fasting
10. Silence

One could add several other disciplines to this list, and one could of course put this list into a different order.  Which disciplines do you find the most helpful?  Which ones would you add to this list?  Are there any you would take away?  How can the body of Christ grow collectively and individually in our practice of the spiritual disciplines?  Talk amongst yourselves... - Shay

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