A quick guide to Spiritual Disciplines
These are sometimes called ‘Habits of the heart’ or ‘Sensitizing habits’.
- Prayer – Prayer is the normal lifeblood of our spiritual life. But in this context is means consciously choosing to set aside a specific period for concentrated prayer. Or perhaps committing to a specific form of prayer, such as praying in languages given by the Spirit (tongues).
- Meditation – taking time to reflect deeply on a passage of Scripture, or perhaps a phrase, a picture, or scene, to sense what the Spirit wants to say to us
- Some find it helpful to set aside a special place that we identify as a space where we regularly go to engage with God. It can even be a place in your imagination.
- Journaling – While it’s not often mentioned as a specific discipline, many find that this is a useful ‘sensitizing habit’. It demands a certain slowing down and reflecting before God.
- Fasting – from food (but not water!). It can be partial – abstaining from a specific type of food that you would usually enjoy. It can involve fasting from a meal, for one day, or several days. The hunger we then feel becomes a regular prompt to call out to God. (This practice can be extended to abstaining from things other than food.)
- Silence – choosing for a limited time to stop the constant internal and external ‘chatter’ in order to hear more clearly from the Spirit. This can be a particular help for those who usually ‘process verbally’.
- Silence from (or fasting from) internet, news & social media is especially relevant in our culture where these can be a constant distraction.
- Solitude – choosing to be alone for a period. Some people do this naturally by preference, so this is likely to be of special benefit if you naturally prefer company. Again, the purpose is to ‘make more space’ for the Holy Spirit to engage with us.
- Frugality and/or Sacrifice – choosing to live especially simply, or choosing to go without some everyday conveniences. This may become a lifestyle, or it may be just for a period to avoid being distracted as we seek God.
- Secrecy – taking some deliberate steps towards developing a lifestyle where we ensure that our acts of serving & giving are done in such a way that others don’t know. This helps constrain our tendency to pride.
- Study (of Scripture) – not merely done as an intellectual thing, but as a way of listening to what the Spirit is wanting to say to us. (Lectio Divina involves reading a passage several times, meditating around it, and using our imaginations to place ourselves in the scene. Many of us have been finding Lectio365 helpful)
- Worship, Praise & Celebration – many of us tend to do this quite well corporately, and giving ourselves wholeheartedly in praise & worship is a vital way to break our tendency to be self-obsessed. But it is also helpful to practice this when we are alone.
- Thankfulness – not often referred to as a spiritual discipline, but perhaps it should be. Training ourselves to practice thankfulness in all circumstances is a great way to open the door of our lives to the Spirit.
- Fellowship – several ‘disciplines’ fall under this heading. It can be viewed as a ‘sensitising habit’ when we make a conscious choice to make ourselves accountable to others, through things like Mentoring, Confession, and Submission.
- Service – we are all called to serve as a way of life, but there may be times when it seems right before God to take on some simple act of humble service, certainly unnoticed & perhaps menial, as an acted-out way of expressing to God our heart’s desire to be his servants