Saturday, November 10, 2012

Spiritual Disciplines: How Do They Affect Our Lives?

     One may ask, what are spiritual disciplines and how do they affect our lives? Well, to answer that question, according to Christian Women's Center there are different types of spiritual disciplines; internal disciplines which includes meditation, prayer, fasting, Bible Study and chastity, external disciplines, which includes evangelism, service, simplicity, stewardship, solitude submission, then there is corporate disciplines, which includes celebration, confession, seeking guidance, and worship.  The personal disciplines are those that each individual should develop for him or herself, while the corporate disciplines are the one that the entire church body can do together.  

      Hebrews 11:1,6 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen v.6 without faith it is impossible to please God, so as Christians, we walk this faith walk before the Lord wanting and desiring to please Him, and so many times we fall short; however, God has made of way of escape for us and He is always faithful and just to forgive us when we find ourselves doing things that are contrary to the word of God. When the internal spiritual discipline of bible reading becomes a part of our daily walk we will then understand more clearly our walk and purpose before the Lord.  When we read our bible I believe it brings us to closer to God which gives us a more intimate relationship with Him. Although, reading our bible daily is important to our walk with the Lord, prayer, meditation, fasting is also important to our walk with the Lord.  We must pray to understand what God's will is for us.  It is suggested that when a Christian is pursuing the discipline of Bible study, the individual should get the one year bible and set a regular time for their daily bible reading Morley (2007).  According to Richard Foster, in his book, Celebration of Discipline, he quotes, " of all the spiritual disciplines, prayer is most central because it ushers in perpetual communion with the Father" (p. 50).  Additionally, fasting has a great benefit to the believers life because it adds strength to the participant's prayer life and it helps the individual hear God's voice and receive His direction 
        As Christians, evangelism is important, however; it is just as important that we understand what it means to serve others and be submissive to leadership.  We must be good stewards over whatever has been put into our hands to do. Being good stewards means that we are being obedient to the word of God.  I believe that the characteristic of solitude must also be apart of our daily walk with God I believe that we must be in a place to hear God and move effectively in what He has called us to do.  We must be swift to hear and slow to speak, we must allow God to work in us of His good pleasure, because He who has begun a good work in us if faith and just to complete the work that He has started.  Philippians 1:6, James 1:19.  It is important that we learn how to be quiet before the Lord, so many times when we go into prayer we begin talking and telling God what we want Him to do and sometimes God just wants us to be quiet in His presence and sometimes He will still speak to us through the silence. Solitude is spending long periods of time alone with God Vos (2012)

One last disciplines I would like to discuss is the corporate discipline of worship.  To worship is to ascribe great worth to God and to see Him as worthy.  Vos defined worship as a response of our heart to the love of God, which encompasses our whole lives (2012).  John 4:23 says, God is actively seeking those we will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  In our worship we praise God for who He is and we express our gratitude for all He has done for us.  Worship is not true worship unless it changes us. 
In conclusion, it is important for us to want all of the spiritual disciplines to operate in us.  When these spiritual disciplines are working in us, they cause us to grow spiritually in God and our walk with Him.  Spiritual disciplines must be apart of our lives for us to effective not only in ministry but also in our counseling practice.  It is important that as future counselors, that we understand how to integrate the spiritual disciplines into our process of counseling understanding that it is the Holy Spirit's enabling help or empowering Tan (2007). 

Christian Women's Center 

Morley, P. (2007). A man's guide to the spiritual disciplines: Twelve habits to strengthen your walk with Christ. Moody Publishers: Chicago

Tan, S.,Y.  (2007).  Using spiritual disciplines in clinical supervision. Journal of Psychology and 
Christianity 26(4) 328-335.

Vos, B. (2012). The spiritual disciplines and christian ministry.  ERT 36(2). 100-114


  1. This submission is very interesting. I hadn't really thought through the distinguishing features of internal, external, and corporate disciplines until reading your post. I also found Foster's quote included above as pretty interesting---"Richard Foster, in his book, Celebration of Discipline, he quotes, " of all the spiritual disciplines, prayer is most central because it ushers in perpetual communion with the Father" (p. 50). It makes me think of the interdependence of the disciplines on one another--how will we know how to pray without disciplining ourselves in reading the will we make sure our heart and motives are inline with God as we fast without knowing the scriptural context of fasting---It makes me wonder if it's best to consider the Bible Study as a more central discipline as the Word will instruct, prompt, and guide us in the "how tos" of the other disciplines. Just a thought.

  2. Bridget,
    Great post! The video of corporate discipline by Patrick Meade was very interesting. I liked his analogy about the fragility of an individual snowflake, but the power behind them when in a group. I was listening to Patrick and by half way through the message I realized that two of my children had stopped what they were doing and were listening intently to his message. It sparked conversation afterwards that will undoubtedly spread to the rest of the family. Exploring the spiritual disciplines has been a growing focus for our family and your post has helped to take it to a new place. Thank you.

  3. Hi Bridget, I really liked your post. What stood out to me the most, is the discipline of Solitude and Silence. It is very true that most of the time, we want to talk and tell God all the we want and express our feelings. But we forget, it is sometimes in the solitude and silent places, that God speaks to us. "Be still, and know that I am God". I love the spiritual discipline aspect of growth as a believer. Fasting, I believe is one the most effective way in communicating with God and a place of surrender and it allows us to give up something that may control us. I think it is important to make discipline as part of the spiritual formation and make it a lifestyle. It is the only way to face the everyday life or the chaos of this world. We can see beauty in suffering and pain when the internal and external spiritual is practiced, and the joy that is for us can only be experienced through these disciplines.

  4. Bridget, thank you for sharing a great post! As I read your post I was drawn to the verses you mentioned, Hebrews 1 and 6. I began to think of how we are often confused with the purpose of spiritual disciplines. Often times we have the thought that by actively doing spiritual disciplines, prayer, bible reading, etc., God will love us more. We forget the truth of God’s word, that He loves us as much now as He did in our past, and as He will in our future. God’s love is unconditional towards us and does not hinder on our spiritual disciplines. However, in Hebrews 6 we read, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (New International Version). God rewards those who seek him out, those who desire to know him more. In the book My Utmost for his Highest, Oswald Chambers writes “Many people today are pouring their lives out and working for Jesus Christ, but are not really walking with Him. One thing God constantly requires of us is a oneness with Jesus Christ”. Let the desire of our hearts be to engage in spiritual disciplines for the purpose of knowing and walking with Jesus Christ.

  5. Bridget,

    Good job on your post. It was very insightful regarding spiritual disciplines. I like that you highlighted worship. For me honestly, worship was one aspect of my faith that I struggled with. I was at a point that I found myself restricting my praise. I was in a back and forth battle of that I shouldn't have to openly "do" anything to show my love for God. However, I came to a point where I realized that those were the very thoughts that hindered my progression and growth in Christ. Furthermore, He revealed to me that my open and public expression of my gratitude and love for Him is what serves as ministry that gives Him glory. I'm glad your post help bring that memory back to surface.

  6. I am learning a lot about spiritual disciplines lately. I have never had a full understanding of each of them but they are something I strive for in my life. It is very true that in order to become closer with Christ we need to be practicing the spiritual disciplines and producing those fruits in our Christian walk. This honestly is a challenge to me. It is one thing to pray for these spiritual disciplines but it is another to faithfully practice them. I had an incredible experience the other night as a group of my friends gathered at my house for a night of worship. Worship is such an incredible spiritual discipline. I was reminded of this the night we praised Jesus, expressing our love to Him. Another spiritual discipline that I need to practice more is solitude. I have been so caught up in the festivities of the holidays that I have been forgetting to just be by myself and spend time with just me and the Lord. This was a wonderful reminder. Thank you!


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