I shocked my Methodist Sunday school teacher when I announced to the 5th grade class that I wanted to be a nun when I grew up. I didn’t know that Protestant girls didn’t grow up to be nuns, but it was the only way I knew to express a longing for more of God. As I think now about my husband and two great kids, I’m certainly glad I didn’t become a nun, but something in me still longs for a quiet, orderly life of spiritual discipline.
Actually spiritual disciplines aren’t just for nuns. They’re for business executives and grocery store checkers. They’re for a home schooling, driving around town, hanging-on-by-the-skin-of-her-teeth mother like me.
Discipline has a negative connotation for most of us; we need it, but we dread it. We feel guilty when we don’t get around to things like daily exercise. We’ve made spiritual discipline into something too hard and other-worldly. It means getting up at 4:00 a.m. to pray and fast in silence all day, right? We’re not sure that sounds like something we even want…
Spiritual disciplines are about taking baby steps towards God.
They help us get past hanging on for dear life and into the abundant, joyful life Jesus came to give us. Spiritual disciplines are habits we can cultivate to open up more space in our lives for God to come in.
Spiritual discipline means growth. It means making sure we’re allowing time and space for God to pour Himself into us, to fill us up so our faith can spill over into everyday life and reach our husbands, children, workmates and friends.
Can you tell I’m passionate about spiritual discipline?
Nothing excites me more than cultivating small daily habits that help me live closer to Him, but they have to be simple, or I never get around to them. Here are a few examples:
Prayer: Pray in the car on the way to work in the mornings.
Meditation: Read one short passage of scripture every day for a week, and see how God speaks to you.
Fasting: How about skipping lunch just one day to take extra time with God?
Rest: What would happen if we spent one evening a week at home with all computers switched off, or had a monthly family fun day with no work at all?
The book Celebration of Discipline also mentions study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, and celebration, but we can be creative to cultivate personal disciplines that are meaningful to us, like:
Talking a walk with God every day
Keeping a Gratitude List
Drawing or Painting a Picture Prayer
For the next six weeks, I’ll be writing on Thursdays about simple disciplines for more abundant life. Enter your e-mail address at the top of the sidebar on the right if you want to follow along.
Do the words “spiritual discipline” make you cringe or do they make you smile? What is your favorite baby step spiritual discipline?