As mentioned previously in other posts, my Spiritual Traditions class from earlier this year has prompted me to consider the necessity of discipline. I know that it is not a new thing to say, but we live in a culture that generally has a short attention span. Even within the evangelical wing of Protestantism, we have elevated spontaneity to a position of the ideal. Prayer should be spontaneous, service to others should be spontaneous (Random Acts of Kindness… which actually is acts of kindness done on purpose, not random at all!), and other parts of life should be done with randomness. Spiritual Traditions has confronted me with the reality that so many great men and women of the faith practiced discipline and purposefulness amidst their life on Earth. They prayed at regular times, concentrated on their tasks, and was present with other people. In short, they were focused.
Often times I have viewed my relationship with God as an unscheduled time of conversing. If I jumped out of bed too late, the first thing to go was my devotional time. If I was running late somewhere, I would quickly ditch times of prayer. I wouldn’t stand up somebody else so easily! Since I like being on time to places (most of the time when it is within my control), not showing up for people would not be an option. Yet, when it came to God, and time spent with him, I would quickly alter things because he is so flexible- He’s God, after all. I would move God to a different time in my schedule if I needed to do something else. Can anyone else relate? I think that I need to further cultivate the habits and character traits of being reliable when it comes to prayer. After all, if Jesus often went away in times of prayer, then perhaps I also need to do that very thing.
Please hear me, I am not suggesting that we should create disciplines for the sake of discipline. Punctuality and reliability are two admirable traits; however, these traits applied to a relationship with God should not be the end result. Just like eating right and working out are means to an end of being healthy, so it is with living in a spiritually disciplined life. Spiritual disciplines like fasting, prayer, and times of solitude, should be a means to an end- to become closer to God and aligned with his will. So I would encourage you to spend some time in prayer this week, blocking off a part of your day and meeting with God one-on-one. Sit and listen. Sit and pour out your heart. Be open and vulnerable, you never know what God might do with a willing heart.