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What Is Spiritual Discipline?

Life can become difficult when there is no discipline especially for the believer.

What Is Spiritual Discipline? (12 Christian Disciplines)

Here are spiritual disciplines for the Christian life that you should be practicing daily. 

Christian spiritual disciplines

Spiritual disciplines are biblical practices that a believer does to grow spiritually in Christ. When we discipline ourselves not only does our character grow and we bear more fruit, but we will also build our relationship with Christ. Spiritual discipline allows you to dive deeper into the heart and mind of God. Your desires begin to change because your love and your yearning for more of Him grows. All that you want is Him and you begin to seek Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and God begins to reveal more of Himself to you.

Have you been feeling spiritually dry?

Dryness on your walk of faith can be a direct result of a lack of spiritual discipline. If you feel disconnected from God, then ask yourself this. How are you feeding yourself spiritually? How are you disciplining yourself? Be careful because we can easily run into the mindset of, “I must be doing these things.” This causes us to pursue religious activities without a godly heart behind it. It’s not about the activity of spiritual discipline, it’s more of the motive behind it.

You can mindlessly read the Bible. You can pray for hours and not think about God once. You can do activities as a form of legalism. If you don’t fix the root of the issue, then you are going to go through the motions. I’ve been through the facade before, so I know.

You say, “God I’m going to start spiritually disciplining myself.” Then, after a week you revert back to your old passionless ways. It’s awful to go through the motions. You find yourself in an ongoing cycle with no way out. It becomes addicting. It becomes a way of life. You lose your sense of sincerity. Am I being genuine or am I just telling myself the things that I know that God desires from me? What are your motives? Let’s kill the issue now by getting to the heart.

Remind yourself of why you are doing these things

Do you approach spiritual discipline as something to gain? When you get to the point of what you are doing, then you are going to see it as valuable, something to be treasured. Do you believe God is going to speak through His Word? Are you motivated by love? God has given us an open invitation to get to know Him. What a privilege that should cause us to rejoice!

Sometimes there are things that have to go in our lives so we can focus on God’s love. Nothing can substitute for spiritual discipline. Listening to Christian music is great, but even that will not suffice. You have to be motivated by this love relationship. At your worst Christ died for you! Christ longs for you! Christ wants you to experience Him! 2 Corinthians 12:9 reminds us that His grace is enough. It’s enough to motivate you to discipline yourself. When we truly grasp the beauty of Christ everything in our life changes. Our motives change, our desires change, and the way we spend our time changes.

Have you lost focus on the beauty of Christ? You are not alone. It’s so easy to lose focus and have your heart captivated by temporal things. Rejoice in the fact that we have a merciful and gracious God. God is continually renewing us, building our relationship with Him, and reminding us of the great price that was paid for us. Preach the gospel to yourself. Take time to reflect upon Christ and use this as a daily reminder of why you do the things that you do.

Consequences of a lack of spiritual discipline

Consequences Of A Lack Of Spiritual Discipline
  • You forget who you are and where your identity comes from.
  • Shame overtakes you.
  • You leave an open door for Satan.
  • You begin listening to Satan’s lies over God’s truths.
  • You lose the presence of God.
  • It’s hard to sense and focus on Christ.
  • Prayer becomes dull.
  • You become timid.
  • You become spiritually weak.
  • You become susceptible to sin.
  • You can easily backslide.
  • Unbelievers may begin to notice a change in you for the worse.

Bible verses about spiritual discipline

1 Timothy 4:8 “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

12 types of spiritual disciplines 

Prayer as a Spiritual discipline

We are told to pray without ceasing, but how many of us follow this command? Why do we give up on prayer? We are called to be persistent. We have time for everything, but for some reason we have no time for God. Don’t expect to pray for 4 hours after being dry in your prayer life. You have to train. You have to develop your prayer muscles. There should not be anything interfering with your prayer life. If you have to listen to godly music to set your heart on Christ, then do it. Focus on Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in prayer. Don’t take over the conversation. Be still and allow the Lord to speak to you.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray without ceasing.”

The discipline of worship

Worship is all about the attitude of the heart. True worship is motivated by the mercies of God. When we worship we must humble ourselves and surrender every part of our life so we can truly appreciate the Lord and get to know more about who He is. Worship is an integral part of the life of a Christian. It’s about knowing God, knowing His attributes, and His character. As we grow in our understanding of God our praise for Him becomes more rich and vibrant because we begin to treasure Him more.

Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”

Bible Study as a spiritual discipline

Get into the Word. Reading the Bible daily will change you. I love what Pastor Tom Hendrikse said. “Spend time in the mind of God and your mind will become like the mind of God.” Make it your intention to look for Christ in every chapter. Give God an opportunity to speak to you in every page. In fact, pray and expect God to speak to you while you read His Word.

Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Fasting is a Christian discipline to seek more of the Lord

This might be the hardest spiritual discipline of them all. There is something that happens to us when we starve the flesh. Our heart begins to align with the will of God. Our prayers are strengthened, our repentance is more real, and our worship becomes more genuine.

Joel 2:12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.

The spiritual discipline of fellowship

We were never called to live out this Christian life alone. We are all part of the body of Christ, but the question is, are you a functioning part of the body of Christ? With fellowship not only do you find help in your time of need, but you will also be able to help others in their time of need. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times that I have been strengthened and encouraged on my walk with Christ through fellowship. Don’t neglect meeting with other believers. Also, join a small group if you are not already yet in one. The best way to have fellowship is by being vulnerable. Don’t put on a facade before other believers and act as if everything is OK if it’s not OK. Vulnerability creates growth in our relationships and it helps us to learn. Vulnerability allows us to know that we are not alone.

Hebrews 10:25 “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Confession of sin

There is always a sin that needs to be confessed. As believers we might not sin outwardly as much, but inwardly we sin daily. We should make a practice of confessing our sins daily. A Christian doesn’t just repent one time and stop. No, we have to continually repent and grow in repentance. When we confess our sins, it allows us to truly appreciate Christ and see our desperate need for Him. When there is no confession, that can easily be an open door for backsliding because you can begin to think that you are getting away with sin.

Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

Examining your life

It’s good to make a practice of self-examination. Examine your heart and your motives. Ask the Lord to show you areas that you need to grow in. As believers we will remain on track by allowing the Holy Spirit to examine our ways. When the Holy Spirit reveals something to you, then you must apply it to your life.

2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

Consecrate yourself

God often told His people to consecrate themselves. To consecrate yourself is to separate from things that will hurt your relationship with the Lord. Today, there are so many things that are not inherently bad, but they can easily become an idol in our lives. We have to deny ourselves. What is something that you could remove from your life or minimize so that you will be able to strengthen your relationship with the Lord? Is it video games? Is it TV? Is it social media?

Joshua 3:5 “Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

The discipline of rest

This is something that I struggle with. One thing that I have noticed in my own life is that when I am physically weak that also translates to me being spiritually weak. I become more susceptible to sin, negative thoughts, and discouragement and it becomes harder to fight off. You were made to rest not to be a workaholic.

Exodus 34:21 “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.”– (Resting in the Lord verses)

Meditate on God

When we keep our mind on Christ that helps us to live in the light of eternity instead of us focusing on temporal things. This practice increases joy and peace even in the midst of a trial.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Giving is a spiritual discipline

Giving our tithes and giving to others is a way of trusting the Lord with our finances. Everything belongs to the Lord. When we give we are honoring the Lord with the finances that He has blessed us with.

2 Corinthians 8:7 “But since you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

Getting involved in God’s activity

Availing yourself to what God desires you to do leads to seeing amazing works of God. This can be scary at first, but this is something that we have to practice. We must be able to see God’s activity, so we can get involved in His activity. We are told to make disciples, comfort, encourage, love, and make sacrifices for others. But how can we do these things if we are not getting involved in God’s activity? God wants to work through you in your church, at your job, and in your community, but you have to be able to identify God moving in a certain area. This happens by getting to know the Lord in prayer. Step out of your comfort zone today and practice getting involved wherever you are at.

1 Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

3 comments… add one
  • Zibi Alva Oct 7, 2020, 1:07 pm

    Wonderful write up, thanks so much especially for explaining using practical day-to-day practices and for the biblical references. I have had a serious problem disciplining myself spiritually. Thanks to this I’ll improve.

  • Estelle Nov 6, 2020, 7:31 am

    Thank you so much ..your article has blessed my soul and I really felt Our Lord Speaking to me about blockages..Very Clear and concise
    I had saved this to my iPad and located it while going through emails ..
    God Bless you!

  • Jeff Dec 11, 2021, 10:23 pm

    When I read the articles on Bible Reasons, when I saw what subjects were addressed and how the writer used questions to make the reader examine himself, to be introspective; it reminded me of Christ and his approach to reach others. Thank you for the genuine bible-based preaching, I found the articles worthwhile and useful!

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