Nobody enjoys the word discipline.
And yet, we all know if we don’t eat healthy and exercise properly, our bodies will get fat and lack the energy it needs to keep going.
In the same way, we need to practice healthy spiritual disciplines to keep us from feeling lost, overwhelmed, and distant from God.
Today’s Christian culture has abandoned the value of three important spiritual disciplines, especially among millennials. I say this not as someone beating down on the millennial generation, but as one who stands in the midst of them. I too am a millennial (although an older one) and proud of it. And yet, I see this becoming more and more of a struggle in our fast-paced, product-driven society.
What if the reason you feel so distant from God, overwhelmed with life, and uncertain of your purpose is because you’ve forgotten the basic spiritual disciplines God clearly asks us to do to overcome these issues?
These disciplines may sound simple, and in a sense, they are. However, it still takes constant practice to implement them into daily life so they don’t slip between the cracks. But once you start making these habits a part of your daily life, change is inevitable.
I shouldn’t even have to say this but, we are in possibly the most distracted generation of all time! We (especially in the United States) have become the busiest, most overwhelmed, and position-driven generation. We don’t know how to deal with boredom, or how to practice stillness in our lives. Just take a step back and look at yourself for a moment: while waiting at the doctor’s office, sitting over dinner, or simply taking a work-break, what are you doing? You’re likely on your phone, distracting yourself of the seemingly uncomfortable stillness.
And yes, while our phones aren’t all bad (I mean maybe you really are on your Bible app, right?), how often are you actually utilizing those 5 or 10 minutes of stillness to open your heart and mind back to God?
God calls us to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Be still, and know that you have a purpose beyond your productivity.
Be still, and know that there is nothing to fear.
Be still, and know that He is in control.
In wrote a devotional related to this verse in my book, Big and Little Coloring Devotional, which brings this concept together well, “In the hustle, it’s easy to forget about God. In the stillness, it’s impossible to forget Him.”
Don’t fear the stillness, friend. Embrace it.
Pray Without Ceasing
In my early years, I used to think that prayer was only for those really struggling.
When we went around the circle asking for prayer requests, often times I’d say, “I’m fine!” and let my time of prayer pass me by because I didn’t feel my depression, or struggle with certain family members, or a desire for a different career counted as a true need for prayer. I mean, I didn’t have cancer, I wasn’t collecting food stamps, and I had many solid friends.
Also, growing up, prayer time to me had to be more structured. You know, before meals and before bedtime only. I had this weird thought that it wouldn’t be received well by God if I wasn’t in a quiet “reverent” place to do it. I laugh at this now, because this is such a limiting belief about God.
In the Bible, it says, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Seems pretty clear that our prayer life should be an ongoing conversation with God. That we can and should include God in conversation throughout the day. Also, the full context of this verse states that we are to “rejoice always” in our prayers and “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). To sum this up: pray always, no matter what’s going on.
By praying always, we are in an ongoing, personal relationship with God. Just like you would develop a friendship by calling, texting, or keeping an open line of communication, God wants an open line of communication with us, too, at all times.
Prayer doesn’t have to be eloquent. It doesn’t have to be magnificent. It just needs your heart and mind aligned to His, even if for only a brief moment as you utter a few quick words “Help me, Jesus.”
Read the Written Word
I love listening to podcast sermons, reading Bible verse meme’s on Instagram, or digging into commentaries online about the Bible. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this.
But, when’s the last time you’ve cracked open the physical Bible and read His Word for yourself? When’s the last time you’ve asked the Holy Spirit to speak to you personally to give insight on the passage of Scripture, without going to a commentary first to figure out what it means?
God gave you a brain for a reason: to use it. God also gave you everything you need through the Spirit living within you, enabling you to understand what you need to know about Him through the written Word alone.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:12).
Yes, there’s value in seeking deeper insight and understanding to the meaning of Scripture by others who study the Bible for a living.
But, we are relying too much these days on external resources and taking what someone else says as truth, before seeking to validate truth for ourselves.
There’s something powerful when we read God’s Word for ourselves. And the more we read it, the more we build on that spiritual muscle to understand and love what He has to say to us, personally.
So, be still, and know. Pray always, in all things. Read the written Word for yourself, without filters. This will profoundly change your life as you feel more confident in your purpose, more grounded in your faith, and more at ease with the ever-changing world around you.