One of the important insights Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines repeats time and again is the necessity to live the disciplines as part of our regular life. If we want Christ to transform us, if we want to live the kind of life He lived, if we want to be able to have Gospel responses to the stimuli that surround us, we need to engage in regular patterns of disciplined living.
Otherwise, the disciplines are just for show (they could be, either way, of course). Otherwise, we will not have the inner strength of character to turn the other cheek, bless and not curse, control our thoughts, resist unhealthy food/books/images/etc, not lie, and so forth.
Engaging in disciplines does not mean we are holy — but it is the only way to get there.
Apparently, my minister back in Edinburgh (I’m in Germany at present) was saying this same thing about prayer this past Sunday. If we only ever pray in times of crisis and danger and fear and worry, we will not have that inner peace that we all want, that cool head that we wish to have when we encounter difficulties and problems in this world. We will not have a resolute trust in God that He is doing the best we wish.
So, let’s start with the most promoted discipline (certainly amongst Evangelicals) — prayer.
Pray today. Whether it’s supplication or the Jesus Prayer or the BCP or praising God for the beauty of spring or entreating God for the end of winter. Whether it is long or short. Pray.
And tomorrow, pray more.
Let’s make prayer the foundation of our lives.
Each month, starting this month, I’ve been wanting to spend conscious time and study on one of the twelve disciplines in Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. April has been the month of meditation (I’m not so good at that one).
May will be the month of prayer. Will you join me?