05: Sometimes I Read My Bible and Pray, but Sometimes, I Don't

Confession: Sometimes I read my Bible and pray, but sometimes, I don't. Intentionally? No. You know the saying, "When you know better, you do better"? I know better, but honestly, I struggle with DOing. Spiritual discipline is a struggle because it literally goes against what I'd choose to do on my own. Really- discipline in ANYTHING is a struggle. I am great at starting things, but worse at maintaining them consistently over time, and that includes spiritual discipline.

It's holiday time! WHOOHOO!! A few days after Thanksgiving, though, and I already see my discipline from eating cleaner and going to the gym 3x-4x a week going downhill. I have been going hard since August, eating right and working on my fitness, but in the beginning of November, my weekends got busy, so I stopped meal prepping. What happened? I found myself eating out more, eating JUNK, and giving in to my food temptations (Hellooooo Chick-fil-a? Twice a week!) Then, I started getting more lackadaisical with my gym routine because I felt bad from what I was eating AND not having my routine meals prepared. Now, I'm farther from the goals I set to lose weight and get in shape because of my lack of discipline. What am I saying? So often, this same "discipline fall off" happens to us spiritually, and we don't even realize it. That was me in October, undisciplined spiritually, and I'm just now getting back on track.

This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night, so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. -Joshua 1:8

What is spiritual discipline?
You have to DESIRE and CHOOSE to be disciplined spiritually because you see the benefit. Just like you don't stumble onto going to the gym consistently or eating clean food consistently, you won't stumble upon living as God expects, without putting some action behind it. I think so many people understand the intentionality behind physical discipline with food and fitness, yet don't think life as a Christian requires all of that. If we're not careful, we celebrate people for doing Keto, yet label people disciplining themselves to be more Christ-like as "extreme" or "super saved."

Whatever the BIBLE encourages for you to do to become more and more like the Christ-like image of God you were created in is spiritual discipline (Genesis 1:26-27). The extent of what it looks like will be between you and God.

  • Perpetual prayer
  • Meditating on the Word of God (Bible)
  • Choosing Christian community to hold you accountable and help you grow
  • Worship as an outpouring of gratitude to God (this includes offerings)
  • Prioritizing God through giving of the tithe
  • Denying your impulsive flesh and choosing the Spirit (Galatians 
  • Serving others with acts of love, compassion, and selflessness

    This list can go on and on, but I will say, we have to be careful not to seek a list to just to go through the motions. God isn't pleased with actions that are detached from a pure heart. He absolutely cares about whether our heart is in what we're doing or not. Matthew 6:21 lets us know that our heart and our treasure (what we emphasize and focus on) are connected. Whatever spiritual discipline goals you're focused on, they have to be from the heart. You have to ask yourself, "Am I doing this out of worship and gratitude for God or just because I think it's what I'm supposed to do or have been told to do?"

Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. Proverbs 4:23

Why is spiritual discipline even necessary?

Why is physical discipline needed for your body? The benefits of eating right and working out FAR outweigh the "benefits" of eating whatever you want and never working out. There are short-tern and long-term benefits. This is the same with spiritual discipline. You won't just, stumble onto living right in today's world if you aren't spiritually disciplined.

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.-John 15:19

Some days when I go to the gym, I feel like I accomplished nothing. Some days, I really don't feel like eating a salad instead of Chick-fil-a, but I try to force myself to not focus on what my body feels like doing because I know the detrimental effects of letting my body make decisions for me that I know aren't good. I force myself to get on track and stay on track with physical discipline because I know that having the habit of it will benefit me in the long run. This is the same with spiritual discipline. Some days, you may read your Bible and feel like you didn't get a deep revelation from it. You may have days where you pray for something habitually and don't see it answered right away. You don't determine whether or not you stay discipline based on seeing immediate results. You establish the habit, understanding that the benefits of consistent discipline and growth far outweigh the weakness that comes from a fickle spiritual life. 

I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.- Psalm 119: 11
Spiritual discipline is much like a savings account. You want to make regular deposits to have something to pull from when you need to make a withdrawal. If you haven't been intentionally putting something into that account bit by bit, when an emergency comes, there's nothing to pull from. That lack of resources may even cost you your life. The same is true for Christians. The devotional I read today or the sermon I heard in church may not apply to me today, but I can deposit into my spiritual savings account, and when life smacks me in the face, I can remember it and make the withdrawal, helping me to react from a SPIRIT-FILLED perspective, instead of an empty, impulsive, fleshly perspective.

So can I encourage you, if you're like me and struggle with being inconsistent with your spiritual discipline? Start making regular deposits into your spiritual savings account. It's worth it if you want to be spiritually resilient in a world that desires you to be anything but.

P.S. Just as some people need financial advisors to help them have accountability with wise, financial decisions, you may need this spiritually. SHOUT OUT to my accountability partner who texts me daily to see if I'm on track and pushes me to share what I'm learning in my devotions.

Dear God, There's so much untapped potential in having a CONSISTENT and DISCIPLINED spiritual life. So often we forfeit our spiritual fortitude by being too weak to be discipline. It only impacts us in the end. We want to live a spiritual life victoriously for you. Help us understand that this can only be done by making regular, consistent spiritual deposits into our savings account so that we build a storage to draw from every time we are in need. We can't do this thing called the spiritual life without being full from time with you. Strengthen us. Hold us accountable. In Jesus' name, I pray.Amen.