We are always practicing to become the kind of people that we become. Just like the things you do, do things to you, the things you don’t do, do things to you too.
A prayerless life is built one day at a time.
A life where the Bible doesn’t matter is built one day at a time.
Throughout our “Personal Liturgy” series, we are trying to push our habits into the “Spirit” category, believing they will have a long-term effect. Often, when we try to push in this direction and establish spiritual disciplines, we are met with resistance and difficulty.
4 reasons we may struggle to implement discipline:
1. I’m just waiting for an epiphany.
Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
When we think, “I’m just waiting on God to change me” we are taking a partial truth from scripture (that only God can truly change us) and using it to hide from our own sinfulness and laziness.
“The (spiritual) disciplines are ways to position ourselves under the waterfalls of grace.” The epiphanies come as we position ourselves in a place to receive them.
2. I shouldn’t need rules and structure. I don’t want to be a legalist.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27: Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Paul says athletes discipline themselves. Discipline is saying “no” to some things we want now for the long-term benefit of choosing what is best.
The desire to not be fake is a good desire, but doing something you don’t feel like doing isn’t being fake. Being fake is pretending to be something you’re not. There is no need to fake it when practicing spiritual disciplines. Every one of them is an opportunity to confess, “God, I’m not who I want to be and I want you to do something about it.”
3. I don’t feel like I really get anything out of it.
It’s interesting how often the Bible refers to spending time with God and listening to Him through His Word in terms of food:
Matthew 4: Jesus says man should not live on bread alone but on every word of God.
1 Peter 2: We should be longing to hear from God through his Word like a baby cries for milk.
John 6: Jesus says He is the bread of life. We are to feast on Him.
We are to consistently gather with God’s people, sing, pray, study the Bible, and sabbath because God uses these like a healthy diet to shape us into a certain type of people. Realizing this shifts our perspective in a very healthy way: the point is eating and getting a healthy source of nutrition and life.
4. I don’t have time to sit down with God for an hour.
Be honest about your season of life and do what you can. If you’re not doing anything, doing something is better than nothing and whoever you are, there is a way to start to shift dots from “it depends” to walking with the Spirit.
Here are a few potential starting points:
Start doing the “Personal Liturgy” challenges. Put a reminder on your phone.
Place prayer/scripture prompts at a place in your house where you regularly deal with frustration or need a reminder that God is present.
Reorder the apps on the home screen of your phone. Consider setting your phone to grayscale.
Spend some time this week thinking and praying through what it’s going to take to shift those dots to the right and then make those changes!