Welcome to the Spiritual Disciplines Challenge!
Why this Challenge?
Are you Wanting Something More?
This was my experience about 3 years ago. It wasn’t a bolt of lightning moment. I was just feeling a vague discontent spiritually, like I knew there was something more, that I could have a deeper relationship with God, that I could be different. I wasn’t particularly struggling with anything, I wasn’t a bad person, but I wondered, is there more for me spiritually? That led to my own journey with the Spiritual Disciplines. And as I learned from other people, my own relationship with God and how I approached my own spiritual walk started to change and deepen.
Wanting to get Closer to God?
The Spiritual Disciplines are a way of us setting ourselves apart, making ourselves available to God to deepen our relationship with him and participate in the changes he wants to make in us. Just like human relationships take time and intentionality, our relationship with God does as well.
How we can embrace the Challenge
1.)Realize you CAN do it!
These disciplines have been done by imperfect people since the beginning of time. In teaching the disciplines and practicing them myself I’ve learned that it’s so important to realize that each person’s experience is different, some disciplines will be easier for different people, some will feel harder. The goal is a deeper relationship with God and relationships take work and time to deepen and grow.
And there is support. God helps us through this journey, through these disciplines. And we help each other. We learn from one another, uplift one another, commiserate with one another on this path that we’ve chosen.
So embrace that you will be changed, embrace that it requires commitment and dedication, embrace that there will be times where you will hear wonderful things from God, and times when you feel like there may be silence. But the important thing is to keep going. Don’t give up!
And that’s where the next point comes in so powerfully.
2.)Encourage one another
The Bible calls us to “… encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11. There are times when the words of other people make or break our situation. Let’s be intentional about helping each other journey deeper in relationship with God. Respond to other people’s posts, bounce off each other’s ideas, take encouragement from other people’s successes and help each other through any discouragement.
And don’t let envy or boasting creep in. Help others by sharing the testimony of what God’s doing in you and through you but don’t use it to build yourself up as more spiritual as another person. That’s a very dangerous temptation with practicing these disciplines. Matthew 6:5 says this about how we should practice the disciplines “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.”
Battling envy is difficult. Why don’t I hear from God like they do? Why isn’t this working for me the way it does for them? Each person has their own journey and their own way that God is going to work through them. Be patient with yourself and the process God takes you through. What he teaches you is for YOUR benefit and won’t look the same as someone else’s experience.
I do encourage you to share your experiences during this challenge, delightful and difficult both. We learn from other’s stories and struggles and successes. Share, respond, encourage, laugh and cry together. We’re all in this together!
Prayer is essential in practicing the Spiritual Disciplines. We pray for certain things and against other things.
Help -Ask God to help you through this process. Simple as that. When you’re feeling like you can’t finish the challenge or get distracted, pray and ask that God would equip you. I’ve found this extremely important.
Hope and Healing – Pray that God would give you a glimpse of himself and the work he wants to do in you.
Patience and Stamina – Ask God to equip you with the ability to begin and sustain this journey with him. And ask for the determination not to give up when you find the process stretching.
Fear – Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of failure. Ask God to remove the spirit of fear from you as you follow his leading.
The need for perfection – That we would realize that this is not a competition, a race, and most importantly, we are not the ones who bring about this kind of change in ourselves. It is God’s mercy and Grace that changes us as we make ourselves available to him.
4.) Realize the Goal is Process not Perfection
God will show you and give you what HE chooses. And that will be no more or less than you can handle with his equipping and help. We cannot be perfect but with God’s help, we can become the people he created us to be. But it’s a lifelong journey, a journey of joy and strength and discipline and wrestling with who we are and who we desire to be. Enjoy the process, the small goals and changes along the way.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I’m here to help as I can through this challenge, and I’m a participant as well! I’ll be right alongside you through this journey.