Spiritual Disciplines PDF Print E-mail



* Spiritual disciplines and “What Would Jesus Do”?

I first heard about WWJD – What Would Jesus Do – in the early nineties when my brother and spiritual father offered me a copy of a book with that title. I literally devoured it in about a week, seeing how a church can respond to my Lord and it was a great challenge to me. How could so many people live the Biblical principles that were so challenging to me? Another aspect of God’s grace was revealed to my young mind and I started yearning for more of God. Reading this book opened my eyes to a new reality. If Peter wrote about Christ as an example, not only did He save us but He gave us an example that we can follow.

According to The Amplified version of the Bible, 1 Peter 2: 21-24 says, “For even to this were you called [it is inseparable from your vocation]. For Christ also suffered for you, leaving you [His personal] example, so that you should follow in His footsteps. He was guilty of no sin, neither was deceit (guile) ever found on His lips. When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; [when] He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance]; but he trusted [Himself and everything] to Him Who judges fairly. He personally bore our sins in His [own] body on the tree [as on an altar and offered Himself on it], that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.” Wow!!! Our Lord gave His life for us, He saved us! Yet He did something else, He gave us an example in His very life on Earth for us to follow. This can be applied in different areas of our own lives. This text lists some aspect that can sum up what we have on this site, for thirsting for God is following in Jesus’ footsteps.

The Message puts the same verses this way: “This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you're named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.” We are called by God to live a special life, a life testifying that we belong to Him.

* Spiritual disciplines as the characters of Christ:

The characters traits of Christ are what we call spiritual disciplines. Therefore, the spiritual disciplines are the different ways, different things, different attitudes, different aspects of His characters displayed for us as an eternal example and a model of life for us to follow. We can therefore classify them in two categories: personal disciplines and group disciplines. In the personal disciplines we have the disciplines of our inner life and the disciplines to help other people. We will dwell on these disciplines to help each other.

We are saved by grace; we live by grace and for the grace of God. While the Lord was with His disciples, He gave them an example by His life so that they could follow in His footsteps (1 Peter 2: 21). Jesus’ attitudes and actions constitute what we call spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines therefore are the habits and practices that develop our intimacy with the Lord our God. As John 14: 7 says, “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well”, we can ask ourselves some questions: Why would the Lord Jesus answer Thomas that way? What implication would it have on Christianity today? (Galatians 2: 20) Christ lives in us, in me, and my life is dedicated to God as He is dedicated to God. He said that those who believe in Him would do great things, even greater things than He did (John 14: 12). What would a non-Christian see in us that would pull him or her closer to the Lord Jesus and to the Father? These are the marks of spiritual disciplines in an individual’s life.

* Personal disciplines in spiritual disciplines:

In personal disciplines, we have to discipline our inner life through Devotion (Matthew 4: 1-11; 14: 23; Psalm 1; Joshua 1: 8), Prayer (James 4: 3; Matthew 6: 9-13; 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18; Philippians 4: 6; Luke 6: 12), Fasting (Matthew 6: 16-18 et 9: 14-15; Isaiah 58: 3-10), and Silence and solitude (Luke 5: 15-16 ; 6: 12-13); we also have Outer disciplines – help to other people – as Service (Mark 10: 35-45; John 13: 12-16), Submission (1 Peter 5: 5-7; Philippians 2: 1-11), Bible Study (Romans 12: 2; John 8: 32; Philippians 4: 8; Deuteronomy 6: 6-9; Psalm 119: 9-11, 105 [even the entire chapter 119 of Psalms]).

* Group disciplines in spiritual disciplines:

In group disciplines we belong to a group, an assembly, or a fellowship and express our thirst for God through worship and worship celebration (Romans 12: 1-2; Revelation 5: 12-13; John 4: 23-24), Divine direction – seeking God’s will (Matthew 18: 19-20; 1 John 4: 1-6 and 5: 14-15), Confession (1 John 1: 5-10 ; 2: 1-2; 2 Chronicles 7: 14; Daniel 9: 3-19; James 5: 16), and Rejoicing and celebration (Philippians 4: 4; 1 Thessalonians 5: 18; Ecclesiastes 3: 4).

* Interesting examples:

Here are some interesting quotes on spiritual disciplines:

"Self-respect is the fruit of discipline: the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself."

Abraham J. Heschel

"Resolved: that all men should live for the glory of God. Resolved second: that whether others do or not, I will."

Jonathan Edwards

"The detachment from the confusion all around us is in order to have a richer attachment to God. Christian meditation leads us to the inner wholeness necessary to give ourselves to God freely."

Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline 2nd ed. (Harper, 1988), p.21

"Meditation has no point and no reality unless it is firmly rooted in life."

Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (Doubleday, 1969), p.39

"By means of the imagination, we confine our mind within the mystery on which we meditate, that it may not ramble to and fro..."

Francis deSales, Introduction to the Devout Life

"If you get the idea to do something good, just do it. It might be the Holy Spirit."

Mary Stearns Sgarioto, in Lutheran Woman Today, May 1995.

"First, let [fasting] be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on Him. Let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven."

John Wesley, as found in the collection

Sermons On Several Occasions (Epworth, 1971), p.301

Rev. Jules Ngangmeni