Yesterday we noted that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, practiced the spiritual disciplines throughout His life. If Jesus, who never sinned, incorporated the disciplines as a way of life, how much more do we need them?
The Lord knows we are a forgetful people. We forget what He has done for us, both the big and small things. So when we face a new challenge, we often fall back into fear. We forget the incomprehensible magnitude of His grace, His love, and His patience toward us. But God meets us where we are. Throughout Scripture, He encourages us to remember. That’s partly what spiritual disciplines do; they help us remember by incorporating intentional moments into our daily lives.
a call to remember
In Deuteronomy 5:15, while explaining the Ten Commandments, Moses told Israel, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (esv). For Israel, remembering the Sabbath was directly linked with remembering what God had done for them in the past.
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He assured His disciples that the Holy Spirit would help them remember His words. He told them, “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26 esv). Jesus knew we would need help remembering what He’d taught us, and through this verse He reassures us that the Holy Spirit will be there to help us too.
So how do the spiritual disciplines relate to remembering? They help us establish rhythms of life that regularly remember the Lord. These practices create routine times in our daily lives in which we can reconnect with Him and recall all He is doing and has done for us. By remembering, we grow in our faith. And, over time, we start to look more and more like Christ. The more we look like Him, the more we long for Him. In the simplest terms, the spiritual disciplines are how we remember and enjoy Jesus.
proven spiritual practices
Generations of believers who have come before us have handed down these tried and true practices known as spiritual disciplines. The twelve we will study are not new fads or the latest trends. They are ancient but simple traditions that help us remember God and grow spiritually. We see them throughout both Scripture and church history. Each discipline can look slightly different in various cultures and time periods, but the basics remain the same. Those who have come before us point to these practices as the way to know God and enjoy Him.
If we are brave enough to follow in their footsteps, we’ll find the spiritual disciplines are simply tools—but powerful tools nonetheless. These acts themselves don’t make us holy; only the Holy Spirit can make us look more like Jesus. But practices such as prayer, fasting, and solitude (among others) help us remove the distractions of our everyday lives, allowing us to hear the Spirit and obey Him.
the ancient path to abundant life
Jesus told His disciples that He came so we may “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). If you were to take a good, hard look at your life, would you say you’re experiencing the abundant life, the easy and light yoke Jesus spoke of (Matthew 11:30)? Would you say that no matter your circumstances, you have a deep-seated joy in Christ? Perhaps you’ve tried all the latest techniques—the list-making, the goal-setting, the calendaring system. While these may help you accomplish tasks, none of them can bring you the freedom and joy you long for in your soul. Instead, we invite you to try something simple and ancient: the spiritual practices that followers of Christ have pointed to for thousands of years as the way to know Him better and enjoy Him more.