What is a spiritual discipline?
A spiritual discipline – this is it is. I want to demystify it. It’s just a specific training of the heart by the Spirit to the general call of God in order to develop that habit of heart to obey the specific call of God at all times. That’s all that a discipline is. You give me any command of God and I’m going to develop a spiritual discipline because of what I want to do as I hear the Word of God. It’s a training. That’s all we mean by a spiritual discipline. It’s a training of the self so that I have a character that can respond to God.
If that’s all a spiritual discipline is, it’s going to turn out there are tons of disciplines. In fact, for every command of God there will be a corresponding discipline, a training that you can give yourself to.
How do I identify a spiritual discipline? How do I identify these things? How do you identify when you have an opportunity of training? This is going to be very simple. Not simple necessarily to give yourself to, just like lifting weights wasn’t. If I pick up training again for football, I’d have a heart attack after the second lap.
Here’s the structure of it. Very simple. Take any command of the Bible: Love your wife. Respect your husband. Love God. Be anxious for nothing. Those are commands. You can take any command of the Bible. But now, as I say here, you can take any vice trait to put off. You’re reading the Bible and it says, “Don’t worry.” Well, that’s a putting off discipline. And so now, the Word of God comes and says, “John, don’t worry.” Okay that’s a command. Or maybe it’s a virtue that the Scripture talks about: Joy. I’m to put on joy. So I’m going to be able to take any command of God. I’m going to be able to take any vice or virtue – anything about that – and I’m going to turn it into a spiritual discipline.
Another thing I say is I can take any reality to be experienced in the Bible. For instance, I have a full pardon in Christ. I am to experience that deeply. I can take that reality now and I can turn it into a spiritual discipline. Or another thing I can take is any example to be modeled. I can take Jesus, Him fasting, Him going on retreat, Him going in solitude.