Summary: One way to be conformed to Christ is through the spiritual disciplines. I describe the spiritual disciplines and how they help us grow in Christ.
In my last post, I outlined what happens in our salvation. Now, we will discuss how the spiritual disciplines help us grow in Christ.
Pastors recommend three spiritual disciplines to new Christians. They tell them to pray, read their Bibles, and find a Bible believing church. Spiritual disciplines are part of the Christian life. They help us grow in Christ.
But what are the disciplines, and how do they help us grow? We need to know about spiritual disciplines and how to practice them. Many Christians may know about spiritual disciplines, but they don’t know how to do them.
This post lays the foundation for spiritual disciplines. In the following posts, I will describe many of the spiritual disciplines in more detail. So let’s dive deeper to discover the spiritual disciplines.
What Are the Spiritual Disciplines?
Spiritual disciplines are the actions we take to grow closer to Jesus and His vision for us to mature in Him. Think of them as spiritual exercises that strengthen our faith muscles. When you go to the gym and exercise, you strengthen your muscles. Doing spiritual disciplines strengthens your spiritual muscles.
Spiritual disciplines are practical ways to be Jesus’ disciples. They are the means to becoming like Jesus and conform to His image (Romans 8:29). They transform our character and actions, and are a means to maturity.
They help us grow from spiritual childhood to maturity in Christ (1 Corinthians 13:11). Peter talks about the process of growing in godliness (1 Peter 1:3-6). We partake of Jesus’ divine nature through God’s promises.
Peter tells us to make every effort to supplement our faith with virtue leading to knowledge with self-control, giving us steadfastness that leads to godliness. Godliness is the daily demonstration of God’s power in us and us becoming like Jesus.
This is the goal of the spiritual disciplines. So, what are the spiritual disciplines? Authors have grouped them in different ways. Some of the best books on the spiritual disciplines are the “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster and “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” by Donald Whitney.
Some spiritual disciplines are prayer and fasting, meditation, Bible reading and journaling, Bible study, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, silence and solitude, journaling, learning, submission, confession, and guidance.
Why Do the Spiritual Disciplines?
Already in defining the spiritual disciplines, we see their value. But there are other reasons to practice spiritual disciplines. Richard Foster defines them as sowing to the Spirit. As we practice spiritual disciplines, we glorify God and reap the benefits of the disciplines.
Spiritual disciplines help us bear fruit in Jesus (John 15:5). Fruit in the Bible speaks of Christian character and deeds. Donald Whitney reminds us that we practice spiritual disciplines for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). The Holy Spirit uses spiritual disciplines to make us holy.
If Jesus does the work of making us holy, why do we have to practice spiritual disciplines? Although Jesus declares us righteous at salvation, sanctification gives us a road to become holy like Him while we live on the earth in this life. We gain maturity in Christ and are becoming perfect in Him (Matthew 5:48).
Spiritual disciplines are pathways to becoming like Jesus. They are a crucial means to pursue Jesus and grow in our relationship with Him. They are an end to the means of becoming like Jesus. They are not the only way God uses for us to conform to Christ, but they are part of the way.
Obedience Leads to Godliness
Spiritual disciplines help us to obey Jesus and the Holy Spirit, leading to godliness. Many people see the word “discipline” and think it will be drudgery. But spiritual disciplines are not drudgery. They lead to a joyful life in Christ.
They show us the way into the joy and delight of serving Jesus and knowing Him more. Richard Foster points out that they bring spiritual freedom to our lives. Through the spiritual disciplines, we see Jesus and experience His presence more and more.
They give us a way to meet Jesus in prayer, silence and solitude, and increase our faith. Spiritual disciplines provide many benefits to the Christian life as we walk with Jesus. We enjoy growing in Jesus.
Benefits of the Disciplines
There are many benefits to practicing the spiritual disciplines. Through them, we grow deeper in our walk with Jesus and relationship with Him. They provide freedom to follow Christ. We experience joy in our walk with Jesus.
They also equip us for the fight with the flesh, the devil, and the world. Spiritual disciplines give us the tools and weapons to avoid temptation and get victory over our sinful desires. They help us connect with Jesus.
Through the spiritual disciplines, we practice godliness and avoid worldly choices. They are not the only way to follow Christ and be conformed to His image. But they are a practical way that leads to Christian maturity. It benefits us to practice spiritual disciplines regularly.
Practicing the Disciplines
When I listed the spiritual disciplines, it may seem like a whole lot to take on. But you don’t need to practice all the disciplines all at once. Don’t get bogged down in practicing the disciplines.
You will need to regularly practice some of the disciplines like prayer, fasting, Bible reading and study, and worship. Other disciplines will only be used once in a while. You should try all of them throughout your walk with Jesus.
Each spiritual discipline will benefit you throughout your life. But you will be drawn to some spiritual disciplines more than others. For instance, I find it harder to journal as I practice my devotions daily. If you don’t find a spiritual discipline helpful, don’t keep doing it. That’s how they become drudgery.
Practicing the spiritual disciplines provides great benefits for growing in Christ. Take a look at the list I provided of spiritual disciplines and evaluate which ones you are doing now. Choose one or two disciplines that seem inviting to you. I more about them and try adding them to your spiritual regimen.
Now that we have talked about the spiritual disciplines, I will show how they can help us grow in each area the spiritual disciplines address. We will start by talking about prayer and fasting.