I’ve always believed that there are at least five disciplines necessary if a person is to live a spiritual life after the example of Jesus. The first of these is corporate worship. While some believe that they can worship God anywhere, Jesus demonstrated by his regular attendance at synagogue that joining with others of like faith was necessary for deepening one’s relationship with God. Worship is our way of joining with others to give praise and adoration for all that God has done for us in Christ.
Second is the study of scripture. Unless we delve deeply into God’s Word as revealed in both the New Testament and Old Testament, we cannot fully comprehend all that God has to say to us. The study of scripture needs to be both private and in community with others if we are to fully understand who we are being called to be and what we are being called to do as Christ’s disciples.
The third spiritual discipline is prayer. There are of course many forms of prayer but joining with others helps us focus our prayers on particular needs and issues, but it’s also important that we spend time in our own quiet meditation contemplating our relationship with God. In prayer we go to the very throne of grace asking God for all that our hearts desire and seeking not simply our will but the will of the one who created us. Without prayer, we become hollow and our spirituality becomes simply a mist.
Fourth is our need to serve others. Service is our way of showing God how grateful we are for what we have been given by others. Service can take many forms. In the church, it can be teaching Sunday School or helping with Vacation Bible School, creating a bulletin board, cooking a meal, and serving as an elder. Service is also serving those outside the church who need our help to make it along life’s journey. This can be done by helping build a Habitat house or serving a meal at the homeless shelter or giving food to the Food Bank or going on a mission trip and many other ways. Through service to others, we gain a deeper appreciation of our connectedness to one another and thereby deepen our own spiritual wellbeing.
The fifth discipline is that of giving. There is a reason that Jesus reminded us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Giving moves us from selfishness to gratitude. It is through our giving that we learn just how much has been given to us through the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross. Giving moves us to a deeper level of graceful living and without it, we become stale and stagnant.
My prayer is that each of us will commit ourselves to these five disciplines, worship, study, prayer, service, and giving so that we might be the disciples of Christ we are being called to be. May God make us truly God’s people as we live out our lives in the world.