The Power of Spiritual Discipline
I have a confession to make. There are days when I just don’t want to pray. Or write. Or do anything “spiritual.” I’m not alone. Pastors have days when they just don’t want to deal with another person, or another problem. Moms and dads just can’t fathom dragging their kids through another tedious family devotion.
Don’t get me wrong. I love prayer. I love all things related to the Lord and His Spirit. I love celebrating what He has done for us and getting to know Him, and His people, better. But I am just tired sometimes. My flesh cries out for “downtime,” for a place where I am relieved of responsibility and free to just “be.”
I had such a day this week. Family life was draining me: there was a difficult doctor’s appointment for one child, a busy college application season for my senior, a hectic schedule for my husband. Mounds of laundry were piled up on not just one couch but two, waiting for someone to fold it. I had avoided the gym. Dinner was not made. I had managed, thankfully, to squeeze in a decent quiet time, but I had writing to do and was decidedly uninspired. Un-prophetic. Unmotivated! I just couldn’t seem to find the energy to press on, spiritually. Going grocery shopping seemed more enticing than listening to the Lord!
But I didn't.
In a last-ditch effort to pull myself up by my own bootstraps, I sat down – “just for a minute,” I told myself – to be with the Lord. I confess I was desperate to hear something – anything – that would help me locate my spiritual “get up and go” again. Where had it gone? I wasn’t going from glory to glory anymore, and I knew it. I just wanted a break!
Then He spoke.
A quick image, a thought flickered through my mind. I saw my spiritual life as if it were the life of an athlete. This brought everything back into perspective.
Spiritually, we are like reluctant athletes sometimes. We know we need to go back to the gym and maintain the discipline of steady workouts. We know we’ll become stronger with regular exercise, increasing weights, and a healthy lifestyle. It takes work and commitment. But our flesh doesn’t want to!
Like beginners, we “would-be athletes” crave rest in between our workouts at the gym. Maybe too much so. We’re sore. Tired. That is to be expected. But just as too much time away from the gym causes our physical muscles to atrophy, so too much time away from the Lord weakens us spiritually.
Our dedication to the training process is as important spiritually as it is physically. A true athlete doesn’t avoid the gym just because he feels tired or his muscles are a little sore from the last workout. He recognizes that these are symptoms of growth, not decay. Muscles are being built in his body. Dedication and perseverance are being formed in his mind.
When we make a commitment to be disciplined in the Spirit, we progress to maturity much faster. The trouble for us, as the apostle Paul said, is that we know what to do, but we don’t do it!
As I listened to the Lord, He said, “Set aside time to pray and write, and I will meet you there.” When we are tired and weary, we can rejoice in the fact that HE is faithful. We have a covenant relationship with a wonderful, powerful God. When we simply position ourselves to be with Him, in whatever capacity He has called us to: counseling, writing, praying, parenting, etc – He meets us there. He upholds His end of the covenant and pours out grace and mercy when we need it most. It is a good deal!
If you’re feeling spiritually drained or unmotivated today, I encourage you not to give up! Don’t believe the enemy’s lie that you are missing it, failing, or beyond hope. All you need to do is get yourself back to the “gym.” Stop what you’re doing, pick up your Bible, and position yourself so that you can just listen to the Lord for a moment. You might have forgotten Him, but He has not forgotten you! (Isaiah 49:16.) He will meet you there.
There is power in spiritual discipline. Because I positioned myself before Him, a simple thought from the Lord changed my entire outlook on an otherwise dreary day. The more I do this, the more I hear Him. I’m praying that a simple reminder to be disciplined in your commitment to your quiet times with the Lord will give you the jump-start you need, too. May you go from glory to glory and strength to strength!
©Deborah Perkins / www.HisInscriptions.com
Author, Speaker, and Christian Ministry leader Deborah Perkins inspires people worldwide to discover "Life-Giving Communication with God." Join her daily on social media, or visit her website for prophetic words, Bible teaching, and a free weekly blog. Need more direction in your spiritual life? Find her Bible Study on Amazon.com!
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.