An Introduction to the Spiritual Disciplines
NOTE: In conjunction with the release of my new book, A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines, I am going to publish an excerpt or two from each chapter:
1. A Man and Creation
2. A Man and the Bible
3. A Man and Prayer
4. A Man and Worship
5. A Man and the Sabbath
6. A Man and Fellowship
7. A Man and Counsel
8. A Man and Fasting
9. A Man and Spiritual Warfare
10. A Man and Stewardship
11. A Man and Service
12. A Man and Evangelism
Today, just to make sure we’re on the same page about what the Spiritual Disciplines can and cannot do, we’ll start with an excerpt from the Introduction.
What the spiritual disciplines are and are not
Spiritual disciplines are the regular practices men cultivate when they want a closer walk with Christ. The spiritual disciplines can help us break a cycle or get out of a rut. Disciplines are the spiritual habits by which we cultivate a deeper relationship with the Lord of heaven and earth. We perform the disciplines because we want to please God, to lead peaceable lives, to be godly husbands, to raise godly children, and to be men of God.
An athlete who lifts weights as part of a training regimen probably doesn’t lift just because he loves pumping iron. He probably wants to improve his strength and endurance (and possibly his appearance). Similarly, disciplines are not ends in themselves – they are means to an end.
Nothing you do will ever make you good enough for God to love you. Instead, He loves you because He made you, and because Christ died for your sins. Therefore, spiritual disciplines do nothing to improve your record with God. We don’t perform the disciplines to make God happy (or avoid His wrath), or to earn favor or merit with God. All the merit we need, we already have in Christ. We place our trust in God – not in the disciplines.
Nevertheless, disciplines demonstrate to God how serious we are about following Him, and they also help us see how serious we are as well. When all is said and done, spiritual disciplines are the designated means for us to grow in this relationship that we have with Jesus. God is always speaking, so if we don’t hear Him, it’s not because He has suddenly gone silent. It is more likely we aren’t listening—or perhaps don’t know how to listen.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,
Pat Morley, Ph.D.