Have you ever sat through church listening to all the words, but still walked away feeling disconnected? Have you picked up the Bible looking for encouragement, only to feel more distant from the God it speaks of? Have you listened to someone else’s passionate prayer and longed for the kind of closeness they seem to have with God?
Why practice spiritual disciplines?
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Watch Week One, Day Two
So often, we walk through life feeling isolated from God and others. We are a detached people, longing for connection. But the busyness of life interrupts these thoughts—a crisis erupts at work, the dishwasher breaks, a family member falls sick. Any longings for something more get pushed back below the surface. We carry on with a limp—with a dull ache that wonders if we were meant for more.
The name for what lies at the heart of this disconnected ache is sin. We long for what was meant to be, because sin has broken our world. God created us for relationship. When sin entered the world, our relationships with God, others, and ourselves shattered. We all innately feel this—that something is deeply wrong with the world. We see it on the news and we experience it in our relationships. From bitter arguments with our dearest loved ones to whispered prayers in the night saying, “Where are you God?” we see how sin has corrupted every relationship in our lives—with God and others.
The good news is the story didn’t end there. When Jesus entered our world, He stepped into our brokenness. He destroyed the power of sin on one dark afternoon by hanging on the cross. And when He walked out of the tomb, He began the work of restoring what was meant to be. Because of Him, our longing for nearness with God can now be fulfilled. We don’t have to feel disconnected.
living connected to Christ
When we place our faith in Christ, we trust that His work on the cross saves us from the penalty of our sins. But how do we continually respond to Jesus after we place our faith in Him? It’s not through big, showstopping acts of obedience that we reach out toward Him. As is often the way with God’s upside-down economy, He uses the small, simple acts of faith to bring us into intimacy with Himself.
These small, simple acts are well known by God’s people throughout all generations. They are tried and true practices called the spiritual disciplines. When God’s Word calls us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), to “meditate” on His Law (Joshua 1:8), and to “remember the Sabbath” (Exodus 20:8), He is calling us to the spiritual disciplines. When we read about the heroes of our faith—such as David, who fasted and sought silence (Psalm 69:10, 62:1)—we are actually reading the signposts pointing us toward a deeper relationship with God.
Those who have followed this ancient path have found freedom from self and sin. And they have found joy—the truest joy that only comes from enjoying Jesus. The more we enjoy Christ, they more we long to look like Him. The more we grow like Him through the practice of the disciplines in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, the more we enjoy Christ. It’s a beautiful, life-giving cycle.
Isn’t it just like God to make these practices available to all? They are not secret methods known to only a few elite. They are on display throughout Scripture. They are the uncomplicated, simple things—prayer, confession, meditation, study, fasting, rest, silence, solitude, simplicity, giving, serving, and worshiping. They are the rhythms of a life of faith that, when practiced purposefully and routinely, lead us into the abundant life God designed us for. They are the path to enjoying Jesus.
How do you believe the practice of spiritual disciplines can lead to spiritual growth?
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