Living out the Christian faith is not a matter of trying—it’s a matter of training.
We first need to recognize that practicing our faith stems from our identity in Christ. We are radically dependent on the Holy Spirit for our sanctification; apart from Him, we cannot increase our righteousness. However, God has given us various means by which, in the power of the Spirit, we can train to be more conformed to His image.
The Purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines
The spiritual disciplines are a means of developing skill in living before God—in other words, in developing wisdom. They give us perspective and power, teaching us to embrace God’s purpose in our lives as we train in righteousness. Cultivating these good habits helps replace bad habits of sin, drawing us nearer to Christ.
Two Disciplines of Abstinence
The two disciplines of abstinence are silence and solitude. These are often difficult for many of us. It is easy to focus on external accomplishment and overlook inward growth through spending quiet time with God. Jesus, however, demonstrates the importance of these disciplines by His own example, finding time to be alone and spend time in prayer (see Matthew 14:23; Luke 6:12–13).
Solitude enables us to develop our relationship with God by pushing away external distractions. The world, after all, presses in on us and seeks to keep us busy at all times, giving us no time to be alone and think.
This is closely tied to silence, which gives depth to solitude. Being silent before God gives us time to truly listen to Him, developing intimacy with Him.
Three Disciplines of Engagement
The three disciplines of engagement are study, meditation, and prayer.
We ought to be studying the Word of God closely; it will equip us and teach us who our God is. It will also help us develop a biblical perspective with which we can face the lies of the world.
This is related to meditation, which will help the Word of God dwell in our hearts. What we think about shapes us, so it is important to meditate on God’s truth.
Finally, we ought to spend time in prayer. This enhances our fellowship and intimacy with God, appropriating God’s power for our lives. It is a modality of communication; we listen to God and speak to Him, praising Him and bringing petitions to Him.
The more we train in these disciplines, the more natural they will become to us.
Watch Ken’s previous Friday morning study videos here.
Want to learn more about spiritual disciplines? Check out Ken’s Conformed to His Image revised edition, along with the new companion videos and study guide. You can also watch Ken’s Quiet Time series.