Discovering the spiritual disciplines can have a profound impact on how one practices Christianity and how one journey’s through spiritual growth. If you’re looking to better understand spiritual formation via the disciplines, this overview is for you.
The spiritual disciplines are means by which individuals and communities can very literally “practice” their faith. They are tools by which Christians seek to know God, yield to the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying power, and surrender to the Divine Will in their lives. The disciplines can be instrumental tools as we seek to “tune” ourselves to God’s desires and see his kingdom as he sees it. These holy actions have been practiced by believers since the earliest times, and are firmly rooted in Christ’s commands and examples in the Gospels. They help to combat the sinful nature and our naturalistic world view. They can bring the believer into a higher awareness of God, his nature, and his kingdom. These tools are one way for individuals and communities to begin to bring their focus back to the Holy One and seek his will.
Disciplines of Engagement
These are ways of connecting with God and other people, conversing honestly with them in order to love and be loved.
Bible Reading: Trusting the Holy Spirit-inspired words of Scripture as our guide, wisdom, and strength for life.
Bible Study: Focusing your mind in study & analysis on learning and internalizing God’s Word.
Scripture Meditation: Thinking deeply about a passage from the Bible, exploring your feelings, and praying about the personal application God would have you to make.
Scripture Memorization: Committing passages of the Bible to memory.
Spiritual Reading: Learning from literature that helps apply Scripture to live for Jesus Christ.
Worship: Praising God’s greatness, goodness, and beauty in words, music, ritual, or silence.
Prayer: Conversing with God about what we’re experiencing and doing together.
Intercession: Joining the prayers of the Holy Spirit for other people, including our work and ministry that involves other people.
Praying the Psalms: Joining the prayers of the Psalmist to worship the Lord, submit yourself to God’s Kingdom, intercede for others, seek God’s mercy and extend it to others, and put your trust in God to help you overcome trials.
Listening Prayer (Discernment): Listening for and learning to recognize God’s voice in order to grow in an intimate, conversational relationship with him and to receive his guidance and strength for life.
Prayer Walks: Taking a walk (or a hike or jog) with Jesus to converse with him, ideally in a beautiful nature setting.
Prayer Partners: Praying with a partner or a group empowers our connection to the immediacy of the Spirit of Christ with us, helping us to pray and responding to our prayers.
Praying the Hours: (Also Called the Daily Office) Stopping your work or other activity to pray at set times (e.g., morning, noon, and night) usually with the help of a strategically guided prayer format or a prayer book.
Practicing God’s Presence: Being open to and appreciating God’s wonderful presence moment-by-moment, as you do all that you do.
Praying Scripture: There are many ways one can pray through the promises of Scripture. Inserting your name or circumstance can help one build faith and confidence through prayer.
Soul Friendship: Engaging fellow disciples of Jesus in prayerful conversation or other spiritual practices.
Personal Reflection: Paying attention to our inner self in order to grow in love for God, others, and self.
Service: Humbly serving God by overflowing with his love and compassion to others, especially those in need.
Disciplines of Abstinence
These are ways of denying ourselves something we want or need in order to make space to focus on and connect with God.
Solitude: Refraining from interacting with other people in order to be alone with God and be found by him. (Solitude is completed by silence.)
Silence: Not speaking in a quiet place in order to quiet our minds and whole self and attend to God’s presence.
Fasting: Going without food (or something else) for a period of intense prayer — the fast may be complete or partial.
Sabbath: Doing no work to rest in God’s person and provision; praying and playing with God and others.