Being spiritually disciplined is vital and essential for every Christian. Recently, an article (from the Official Site of P. Douglas Small) dealing with this subject was made available to me (thank you Sis Pam!). In this limited amount of space, the subject can only be briefly considered. The following excerpts are intended to introduce concepts and provoke additional thought.
Examining Spiritual Disciplines
“Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people,” declared Richard Foster in his classic book, Celebration of Discipline.
Dallas Willard calls spiritual disciplines an “ancient tradition of activities which are means of grace, ways of approaching and relating richly to God … activities in our power, things we can do, to meet God in such a way that we become able to do what we cannot do by direct effort.” Willard identifies two types of spiritual disciplines – those of abstinence (solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, secrecy, and sacrifice) and those of engagement (study, worship celebration, service, prayer, fellowship, confession, and submission).
Douglas Gregg, in his book, Disciplines of the Holy Spirit, refers to spiritual disciplines as “power connectors” to the presence of the Holy Spirit whose role is to transform us. The disciplines are seen as our gift of self as pliable clay to be remade by the hands of the Father, according to Scripture and by the Spirit. Yet, the disciplines themselves are not our goal [emphasis mine-MP]– our aspiration is Christlikeness (Phil. 3:10). The disciplines do not change us – they position us for change! [emphasis mine-MP]. Without them, our growth will be stunted, dwarfed or non-existent. Their purpose is first, our “drawing near to God” by “disciplines of solitude” (solitude and silence, listening and guidance, prayer and intercession, study and meditation); then our “yielding to God” by “disciplines of surrender” (repentance and confession, yielding and submission, fasting and worship); and finally our “reaching out to others” by “disciplines of service” (fellowship, simplicity, service and witness).
This is the whole Christian life compacted – seeking God, surrendering to Him, and out of humility and deep dependence on Him, serving! Prayer, fasting, giving become more than prayer, fasting and giving. They represent a mentality, a lifestyle, a pathway to a disciplined, surrendered life of service.Posted by Pastor Micah Perry on Jun.28, 2014