To Get Spiritually Fit You Must Practice

A friend recently spoke against “Spiritual Disciplines” because he saw them as a list of check boxes–sort of like tasks to complete on your way to salvation.

My response is that if anyone views disciplines, or practices, that way, then they have missed the “spirit” so to speak of the practice. These practices–study, worship, prayer, mediation, celebration, fasting, service, and the like–are things you can do to strengthen and deepen your spiritual life.

Paul often uses athletic language to instruct us in that regard. He tells Timothy (1 Tim 4:7) to train in godliness” for example.

Dallas Willard writing in The Spirit of the Disciplines says, “Just as with the physical, there is a specific round of activities we must do to establish, maintain, and enhance our spiritual powers. One must train as well as try.”

Another way of looking at this is to consider these as habits you’ve intentionally cultivated.

I have an ecosystem of practices that help me exercise daily. It involves going to the gym and then showering and getting physically ready for the day. It’s something I do to maintain as healthy a body as I can.

Similarly with spiritual life. Rising a little earlier (for the past few years, it’s been 5:30 am–without an alarm), I have time for study, meditation, writing before going to the gym. Study, prayer, meditation are woven into the fabric of my morning. Worship, celebration and service happen intentionally at other times of the day or week.

One key is intention. I am intentional about maintaining this routine. It is not rote habit, but habit intentionally chosen and reinforced.

I still have many personality problems to overcome, but this routine has changed my life over time. I expect it will continue to do so.

One thing that it really does is deepen my faith. To be spiritually fit, you have to practice.

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