Just as every athlete must train to win, every Christian must make their faith strong through spiritual disciplines. Nobody can sit on the couch eating Cheetos for months and hope to compete.
The best athletes are intensely disciplined. They follow strict diet and exercise regiments to beat their body into peak physical condition, so when the game is on the line, they are ready.
We know this is true for our physical condition, but there’s a disconnect with how we think about our spiritual condition.
The sad reality is that many Christians are unfit because they are undisciplined.
Nobody drifts into discipline. Just as the undisciplined body becomes sluggish and fat, the undisciplined spirit becomes weak.
This is why Paul coaches Timothy: “Train yourself for godliness; 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 Tim 4:7-8).
This verse is the cornerstone of the spiritual disciplines because it spells out their purpose—training for godliness.
WHAT ARE THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES?
There is no consensus list of spiritual disciplines. The Bible does not include a set list. So different authors list different disciplines—some more biblical than others.
I believe 12 primary spiritual activities were practiced by Jesus and prescribed for all believers in the Bible: study, prayer, fasting, confession, worship, fellowship, rest, celebration, service, generosity, chastity and disciple-making.
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES #1. STUDY
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)
Of all the disciplines, none may be more important than the study of God’s Word.
Only through the instruction of the Bible can we understand the ways and the will of God. The theology and practice of every spiritual discipline is rooted in Scripture. Without the study of God’s Word, we cannot hope to grow spiritually.
Jesus knew Scripture better than anyone. As a boy, he amazed the teachers in the Jerusalem temple with his understanding (Luke 2:46-47). He quoted Scripture from memory when tempted in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). And he regularly quoted it in his teaching (e.g., Matthew 5:21; Mark 10:5-9). He even began his ministry with a public reading from the book of Isaiah (Luke 4:16-21). Jesus embodies the Word (John 1:14).