What comes to mind when you think about spiritual disciplines? Raise your hand if you cringe a little bit because you’re haunted by your own inconsistencies.
(You can’t see me, but both of my hands are up.)
For a long time, I believed that if I wasn’t waking up before the sun each day with a cup of coffee in hand and poring over the Scriptures, then I wasn’t doing Christianity correctly. Now, don’t get me wrong…I LOVE the Scriptures (and coffee!). I went to seminary so I could learn to love them even more. But consistent is something I’ve always struggled to be.
Or so I thought…
Over time, I’ve learned that it’s not necessarily that I’m inconsistent. It’s that I was inconsistent at one thing—the only thing that I thought would bring me closer to God. Hear me, we should absolutely be consistent in learning from God’s Word and spending time with Him in prayer. But how we do that is not what we’re called to be consistent in.
When we narrow the list of ways to relate with God, we do ourselves and others a disservice. The goal of spiritual disciplines is to commune with God—to cultivate relationship with Him—so that He can make us more like Jesus. The goal is not to check a quiet time off of your to-do list. Our list of “shoulds” should never keep us from enjoying God. Instead of feeling guilty for what you feel like you can’t do, lean into the way God has wired you.
Did you know that there are more spiritual disciplines than the ones we hear about most often? The list is vast and some of them will come more naturally to you than others. God has wired us all with the desire, ability, and means to enjoy our relationship with Him.
There will always be room for improvement. I continue to try to train my body and mind to be still with my Bible and journal because it is good for me and it glorifies God. But I am not as inconsistent as I thought, and I’m willing to bet that you’re not either. The way God created you is good—very good—and He’s created you to enjoy Him.
Here are some spiritual practices that you might find you are able to do more regularly!
Seven Spiritual Disciplines
Listening to the Bible
Do you learn better when you’re listening rather than reading? You have more in common with the early church than you may have realized! The Bible has not always been available in print and accessible for everyone to read. In fact, many couldn’t read at all. While we are thankful for access to the written Word and want to utilize it as an invaluable gift, it’s okay to use an app to listen to the Scriptures. Bible apps have also not always been available and are a gift of accessibility to the Word of God!
If you find it hard to sit still and focus, you may need to pray while your hands are doing something else, like cooking, taking care of your plants, or cleaning. Try praying while drawing, painting, or crocheting. Grab a friend and spend time praying together while you’re hanging out. Whatever you do, talk to God. He loves hearing from you.
If you find that your mind goes a thousand different directions when you’re praying, consider it an advantage! Your wandering mind makes it much easier to take “everything to God in prayer.” Talk to Him about the things you’re thinking about. Even the silly things that cross your mind—laugh with God about them! Again, He loves hearing from you.
Some people meditate by default. It’s just the way God has made them. Do you find yourself sometimes fixed or zoned out on a characteristic of God or passage of Scripture? Do you spend extended time alone pondering the mystery and beauty of God? That’s meditating—a very effective and beneficial way of pursuing Christlikeness!
Music makes things stick. Songs often live for a long time in our hearts and minds. Is there a song in your heart that reminds you of who God is and what He’s done? Sing it! Of course, do your best to not disturb or disrupt anyone close to you. But otherwise, sing! You may even want to write your own song to God. However loud or soft, however it sounds. Sing praises, petitions, and adoration to God.
This one is SO fun! Shout “hallelujah!” or “Yes, Lord!” or “Thank You, Jesus!” when alone, or in the car, with your friends, or any other appropriate setting (I personally no longer allow myself to listen to worship music while working because I will shout. Inevitably. Repeatedly. Unapologetically.). Psalm 47:1 says to shout loudly unto God. He’s worthy of high praise!
Has God done something beautiful in your life? Tell somebody! We are called to be witnesses and to proclaim His goodness. Text a friend, stop a stranger, call your mom! Let somebody know how you’ve seen the hand of God at work. You never know how your testimony can turn someone else’s heart toward Jesus!
What other practices have helped you focus your time, attention, and affection on enjoying God?
Additional resource on spiritual disciplines