Opening to Door
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)
This past Sunday I encouraged us all to say “no” to self-sufficiency and “yes” to Jesus-dependency. According to Revelation 3:20 Jesus is knocking on the door of our lives because he wants to be with us, talk with us, and to get know us. Today, right now, Jesus desires your fellowship. He wants to “keep company” with you while you’re cooking, cleaning, working, praying, entertaining, and serving. Spiritual disciplines are practices that facilitate our desire to keep company with Jesus. They don’t earn brownie points with God or make us more spiritual; they simply create room for God in our hectic lives. In the same way a runner is equipped to compete in a marathon by the discipline of physical training, so training through spiritual disciplines frees us to live each day with the “easy yoke” and “light burden” Jesus spoke of (Matt 11:30).
By way of example, here is helpful list of spiritual disciplines by Renovare (follow the Renovare link to learn more about each of these)
- Meditation: The ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word.
- Prayer: The interactive conversation with God about what we are doing together.
- Fasting: The voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity.
- Study: The mind taking on an order conforming to the order of whatever we concentrate upon.
- Simplicity: An inward reality that results in an outward life style.
- Solitude: An open relational space for being found by God and freed from competing loyalties.
- Submission: The discipline that frees us to let go of the burden of always needing to get our own way.
- Service: The many little deaths of going beyond ourselves, which produces in us the virtue of humility.
- Confession: Experiencing the grace and mercy of God for healing the sins and sorrows of the past.
- Worship: Entering into the supra-natural experience of the Shekanyah, or glory, of God.
- Guidance: Knowing in daily life an interactive friendship with God.
- Celebration: A life of “walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:8).
It’s disciplines like these that help us experience God’s presence and hear his voice in our daily lives. However, at first blush a list like this may appear overwhelming. Where does one begin? How are the disciplines practiced?
Often times spiritual disciplines are learned in community—in small groups, on a retreat, or with a spiritual director or mentor. In these contexts, disciplines are usually more caught than taught. Worshiping, praying and serving with others often times sparks a passion for us to worship, pray and serve when others are not around. Faith is contagious. It rubs off.
In other situations, though, being taught spiritual disciplines is quite helpful. Every year Duane and I attend a 24-hour spiritual retreat, where we’re taught new disciplines and given the time and space to practice them. For me, several of these new spiritual habits have become part of the rhythm of my life with God. So there’s a benefit to instruction.
Another way to learn about how spiritual disciplines can impact your life with God is by reading Christian books on the subject. One of the most accessible books available is The Life You Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg. In addition, our upcoming Men’s (September 5-7) and Women’s Retreat’s (April 17-19) are both great places to learn and practice new spiritual disciplines. And, you can always meet with Duane or myself, if nothing else, to have a soundboard to explore your life with God.
However you go about it, be sure to invest in your relationship with Jesus. It's the single most important relationship you have.