Monday, June 1, 2015


In my earlier post I stated that it is my goal to live a more intentional and balanced life by focusing on certain key actions. In this post I want to expand on my first focus area: the practice of various spiritual disciplines, including Bible study, prayer, and journaling. As a follower of Jesus Christ, this is the foundational first steps to a balanced and purposeful life.

Donald Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life has been thought provoking and actionable. Spiritual Disciplines are the practices found in the Bible that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Whitney, 4). He argues that “the only road to Christian maturity and godliness (a biblical term synonymous with Christ-likeness and holiness) passes through the practice of the Spiritual Disciplines” and uses 1 Timothy 4:7 as the answer to the key question of how we are to become more like Jesus Christ, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (NASB)” (Whitney, 4). Whitney biblically examines ten different disciplines in the Christian life: Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning. While I intend to incorproate all of these practices in my life, three disciplines will be my initial intentional focuses for growth: Bible intake, prayer, and journaling. While I am currently conistently practicing each of these areas, there is room for growth.

Bible Intake. No spiritual discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. To know God is to know His Word. Beyond reading, studying, or hearing God’s Word, effort must be placed on doing it.In this area, I purpose to:
  • Ensure that I maintain at least 45–60 minutes each morning for undistracted time in the Word and prayer. This means that I need to leave the computer, iPad, and iPhone out of reach during this time, one of my biggest challenges currently.
  • Learn to better observe, interpret, and apply Scripture. Howard Hendricks’ book and study Living by the Book is one that I need to revisit.
  • Learn to slow down and meditate on the Word, rather than speeding through a reading plan to see how many boxes I can check off.
  • Look for more time in my day for Bible intake. This may include listening to the Word on my drive to work, listening while mowing the lawn, reading on lunch, or just by turning off the electronic devices or to spend time in my Bible.
Prayer. Scripture is clear, we are expected to pray and God works through our prayers. As Whitney points out, “God speaks to us in His Word, and we speak to Him in response to what He has said” (Whitney, 87). Bible intake and prayer go together. Specifically, I intend to:
  • Learn to pray in conjunction with my Bible study and meditation.
  • Just pray, asking the Holy Spirit for the concentration to do it. Prayer is hard work. Prayer is war.
Journaling. Whitney defines and describes a journal as “a place in which a person records information important to him or her personally for preservation or consideration. As a Christian, your journal is a place to document the works and ways of God in your life. Your journal also can include an account of daily events, a record of personal relationships, a notebook of insights into Scripture, and/or a list of prayer requests” (Whitney, 249). Journaling is a discipline that I have maintained for over 15 years. It has been greatly beneficial in seeing how God has worked in my life, answered prayers, and to demonstrate growth over the course of months and years. It has also pointed out areas of concern, weakness, and sin. Moving forward, I intend to maintain my current practice and look for ways that I may expand my journaling. While journaling is not a “must do” for the Christian, it can be highly beneficial and one that I recommend.

The practice of these spiritual disciplines are foundational in helping me walk more in sync with the Lord and learning to discern His focus and priorities for my life, so that I will not be overwhelmed and scattered in my serving Him. In my next post I’ll highlight strategies for more purposeful and valuable reading.