Today the discipline of study may have many forms:
- We can read the Bible in a physical book, on a digital device or by listening to an audio Bible.
- We can listen to the Bible taught in our church on Sunday mornings, or online any time.
- We can also meditate. But we must make a crucial distinction here because meditation can be misunderstood. Eastern meditation focuses on emptying the mind; Christian meditation focuses on filling the mind with God’s Word. For example, Psalm 119:97 says, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.”
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES #2. PRAYER
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Prayer is how we talk to God. When we pray, God listens.
Jesus taught many things about prayer. He warned against the prayers of hypocrites who make a show of their prayer, and taught us to pray humbly (Matt 6:5-6). God is like a good father who delights in giving good gifts to his asking children (Luke 11:9-13). We should persevere in prayer until the Lord answers (Luke 18:1-8), but we must have faith for our prayers to be effective (Matt 21:22).
Today, like Jesus, we should withdraw regularly for time alone with God in prayer. And whenever we gather with fellow believers, we should pray for one another.
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES #3. FASTING
Their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:19).
Fasting is abstaining from eating food for spiritual reasons. It is a focused time of spiritual dependence on God to sustain you, almost always accompanied by prayer.
But in our self-indulgent culture lacking in self-control, fasting may be the most neglected discipline today.
When asked why his disciples were not fasting, Jesus said that they would not fast as long as he was with them, but “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” (Luke 5:35).
Those days are today as we await Christ’s return.
Since there is no direct command exactly how to fast in Scripture, we are free to fast as the Holy Spirit leads us. However, the normal practice in the Bible is abstaining from all food.
How long should we fast? Some people fasted for one day (Judges 20:26), one night (Daniel 6:18-24), three days (Acts 9:9), seven days (2 Sam 12:16-23), fourteen days (Acts 27:33-34), and forty days (Deuteronomy 9:9). So the length can vary.