Category Archives: A Fresh Start

Writing

When we use pen on paper to write, something happens in our brain to awaken it (apparently typing or reading don’t have the same effect). When we intentionally write down Scripture, prayers and responses, we have slowed down the process and are paying more attention to those prayers and Scriptures. Therefore, copying Bible passages can make our prayer time more meaningful. When I began to practice this discipline almost twenty years ago, it was significant to my own personal renewal and ongoing spiritual development since.

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Thanksgiving

There is no longer any question about the value of thanksgiving. This is true for the person expressing gratitude and the one receiving the thanks. Lots of studies show the importance to our own well-being of be thankful. I have even found that it is helpful when I am struggling in a relationship with someone to practice thanking God for them as I pray for them. God uses that prayer to change my own heart toward them. But thanksgiving must also be directed toward God. If, sometimes, you’re not sure that you have something to be thankful for, just thank God for your last heartbeat and breath. To regularly practice the discipline of thanksgiving is as sure a path to change as one may take.

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Supplication           

This is an old word that literally means begging earnestly with humility. I think that it often may be associated with asking for the needs for others, but here it is for our own needs also. When praying for others, it has often been called intercession. To practice supplication then, is to ask God for whatever is on my mind and heart. I would suggest this one point: Adore first, Confess humbly, Thank often and Supplicate last (ACTS). One more helpful practice is to keep a prayer journal where you list those requests. Then when each request is answered (in whatever way God chooses), write a prayer of thanksgiving beside or below it.

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Submission

I did not have to join a religious order to practice submission. But I did have to make a commitment to some fellow disciples to meet and be open to their input and challenges into my life. Practicing submission is a simple as making myself accountable to a couple of fellow disciples. They will ask me and care about my struggles and remind me of His grace. The better my brothers know me, the more I have confessed to them, the easier it will be for them to remind me that I am straying from the path that honors God. Then I can submit to that counsel and turn back to my Lord.

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Solitude

Like silence, this may be difficult for some, especially the extrovert. But it is in being alone for a period of time that one may hear God and one’s self. Solitude means to be alone and goes naturally with silence. But unlike silence, you may not be silent but be talking to God in prayer and praying aloud and reading Scripture aloud can both be very meaningful indeed.

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Simplicity

It is said that when Saint Augustine died, he had nothing but his writings and few clothes. Everything he had belonged to the monastery. To practice simplicity does not require a vow of poverty, but it does suggest moving away from a lifestyle that is focused on possessions into a lifestyle of less. Doing more with less means having fewer things around us to care for so that more of our attention may be toward God and people. If I didn’t have to mow the lawn, that’s forty minutes I could give to something else. But we must be careful about extremes. Because it is during that very forty minutes that I can often be in solitude and silence with God as I follow my noisy mower, oblivious to everything, except the row of grass that I am cutting. It’s about attitude, and asking: Can I do without this thing?”

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Singing

            The Bible is filled with singing! To sing the praises of God is what many of the Psalms are all about. Singing as a form of worship (all of these disciplines should be seen as worship) whether alone in your prayer closet or among your fellow disciples is a key discipline. On key, off key, whatever kind of joyful noise you can make, worship the Lord in singing! And don’t think singing is just praise, we can lament in song as well as we can praise, but in either case, rejoice always!

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