Growing in the Spiritual Disciplines

by Jan 17, 2024Holiness

It’s happened in almost every small group I’ve been part of for the last twenty years. We have a sweet time of prayer at the end of the group. Men and women split up into gender-specific groups; we share what God is doing in our lives and learn more about each other as we share our hearts. One of the most common prayer requests during these times goes something like this: “Please pray that I am more consistent in my daily Bible reading and prayer throughout the week.” Typically when you dig a little deeper, this person is saying, “I rarely read my Bible and I don’t have any plan to do it. But I know I should.” 

Maybe that’s you. We all know it’s vital for us to commune with Christ daily (John 15:4). When I was a kid, my dad asked me, “If someone wrote you a letter, would you read it now or next week?” Obviously, I would read it right away. If someone took the time to write me a letter, it must be something important. My dad used that object lesson to tell me that God has written us sixty-six books (or sixty-six letters) for us to meditate on. Why would we wait until next week to read his Word?

Over the last year and a half, it has been heavy on my heart to intentionally help members of our church learn the spiritual disciplines of communing with Christ in prayer and Bible reading/application on a regular, consistent basis. There is one thing we know for certain when it comes to discipline: if we don’t make a change, we won’t see any change. Yet many people approach spiritual disciplines expecting positive change without taking intentional steps.

There are three things I’ve found helpful when it comes to spiritual disciplines, specifically Bible reading: 

  1. A plan with accountability
  2. Desire
  3. Celebrate success

With any discipline we’re trying to implement, it can almost be embarrassing how untrained and inconsistent we are at practice. When we fall once, sometimes we are ashamed to try again. Imagine if our toddlers tried walking one time and we expected that they would master it on the first try without any mistakes. That wouldn’t make sense and would be bad parenting. A good parent encourages their child when they fall, points to the areas they see need improvement, and helps the child get up and try again. 

The same is true as we grow in the area of communing with Jesus. Whether you are being discipled or doing the discipling, it is important to keep going and stay laser-focused on God. He is using your failures to grow you, his child. The enemy wants us to be discouraged by our shortcomings. He wants us to be impatient with those who are “trying to walk.” He wants us to quit. He doesn’t want us to learn how to walk. 

Start with a plan. The most recommended plan is the Bible in a Year plan. If you use that— great! But it doesn’t have to be a Bible in a Year plan. My recommendation is to start small. Give yourself something to start with and build from there. Don’t start with a marathon, start with a jog. Read one of the Gospels this month, or read one chapter in Proverbs a day for thirty-one days straight. We’ve suggested a few reading plans for Huddles, which are designed for everyone. Don’t be a lone ranger and do this alone. Get someone to do this with you. Someone to encourage you and hold you accountable. 

Discipline is always something we want, but we need to be honest with ourselves. Being disciplined is hard. I always wish I would have worked out at the gym today, but it’s hard to walk out the door and go to the gym. I always wish I had stayed on that healthy diet, but it’s hard to not order unhealthy food when I go out. Paul says something similar in Romans 7:15-20. 

Start with prayer. But keep in mind that actually doing the work of the discipline is part of God’s grace in allowing us to live out our faith. The struggle of choosing to spend time with the Lord over something else is an act of obedience to the Lord. With any discipline, the more you repeat it, the more you see the results you are hoping for. That, in turn, increases your desire. I promise you’ll never regret spending time with the Lord. He is faithful to use that time for your good and his glory (Isaiah 55:11). 

One step that is often overlooked when it comes to disciplines like Bible reading, is taking time (even a small moment) to celebrate success. This is not praise for how awesome you are, but it is looking back at how God has grown you by faithful obedience and the power of the Word of God (Psalm 9:1). God wants us to rejoice in his work. 

Last August, we launched a new ministry called Huddles. This ministry was specifically developed to aid and bring intentionality to members of our church who want to grow in the spiritual disciplines of Bible intake, Scripture memory, and journaling. We developed and created a journal that has instructions on how to implement a plan to grow in this area of your life. If you have the bandwidth to join a huddle, you can use this link. If that doesn’t work for you and you want to use the journal with family or a friend, we have people who do that as well. Our aim is that people would be in the Word of God regularly and grow in their relationship with the Lord.

Recent Posts

Rescue the Perishing

Rescue the Perishing

Editor’s Note: This post was written on the ground last year, during a vision trip to a West Asian city. During the trip, team members prayer-walked the city and asked the Lord to rescue and redeem those who are perishing. “God is great! I bear witness that there is...

read more
Biblical Principles for Divorce and Remarriage

Biblical Principles for Divorce and Remarriage

I never imagined I’d be here! I hear these words from friends facing divorce—far too often—and it breaks my heart. I bet you come across these same situations, don’t you? As believers, we are called to love God and to love our neighbor. Dealing with troubled marriages...

read more
Why Study Judges?

Why Study Judges?

This spring, our Women’s Bible Study will be in the book of Judges. This book is familiar to us in parts and pieces; many of us know the stories of Deborah, Gideon, and Samson. But few of us know how those stories fit together in the book of Judges. We rarely stop to...

read more