To be silent in today’s world may be the hardest, yet most rewarding of the disciplines. This simply means not talking. When tempted to talk, one should pray. Like many such disciplines, to begin with a shorter period of time and then increase the amount of time is wise. In silence, one seeks to hear rather than to speak. This is not the same as an attempt to empty one’s self, for any emptying of our heart and mind needs to be intentionally filled by God with His Scriptures. So silence may well be tied to one of the prayer disciplines. But, quietness so you can hear is the key. Therefore, having your Bible open and ready is wise.
Category Archives: A Fresh Start
If we run a search for the word ‘serve’ in the New Testament, it would take us quite a while to read all that is said about it. (Reading and studying the uses of the word ‘serve’ in the Gospels may be a helpful thing to do as a Bible Study discipline.) Serving is a key to living the life of following Jesus. To serve well, it would be helpful to identify the gifts and talents that God has given us. However, it’s important to be careful to understand that joyful serving comes from loving and therefore serving God. Serving for its own sake, or if motivated by guilt, may lead into a works mentality. As an aspect of the fruit of abiding in Jesus, serving can bring us closer to God as we recognize it is Him working through us for His kingdom.
This is an easier discipline. Choose five or six Scripture texts that you would like to regularly pray. Copy and paste these verses in your electronic calendar as reminders every hour or so through the day. On your devices that are tied to your electronic calendar, as they pop up on your screen, take that moment, stop for that moment and intentionally talk to your heavenly Father using that Bible text. There is a list you might find helpful in the chapter on “Praying Scripture.”
This discipline was important enough to God for Him to model it on the 7th day and include it in the 10 Commandments. Among those commandments, this is likely the one most often ignored by Christians. To take a day off is biblical and wise. In a sermon on Sabbath, I could probably come up with lots of reasons why it’s a good idea, but here are two: We need a day off because we were not created to work non-stop. God rested on the seventh day to demonstrate for us what He later commanded. The second reason is to show me that I am not God (like the need for sleep shows I need proper rest). Only He is omnipotent. You and I need rest. But Sabbath is not just a day off. It should be intentional. Read the chapter on Sabbatical to adapt ideas about purposeful Sabbath. Add an extra discipline or two to your sabbath. Be sure to engage in activities that bring you joy. Sabbath is to be enjoyed, not just endured! Oh, yeah, you pastors, Sunday is not your sabbath.
This was mentioned above as a method to practice adoration prayer. To use the Bible in prayer is to use God’s own language in our conversation with Him. I have often referred to this practice as the steps that I climb that take me up to the throne of grace. There, I enjoy the presence of my heavenly Father and make my pleas to Him. In a separate chapter, this discipline is elaborated upon.
An influential leader once told me that there is a direct correlation between how I am sleeping and my current state of spiritual development. It made sense. So, I learned to break the Lord’s Prayer into its phrases for use before I sleep. After I’ve said good night to my wife, I begin to practice adoration prayer. I talk with Him and reflect with my Heavenly Father about His greatness and His attributes. Reflecting on His goodness and power and being thankful are wonderful things to have on my mind as I drop off to sleep. He loves and cares for even a wretched sinner like me. What I’ve found is that once I’ve trained myself to do this as my last conscious communication before sleep, I sleep well. Then, when I awake, whether in the middle of the night or in the morning, I reenter this discipline of communicating with my Father in Heaven. When I’ve had occasion to teach this to others, they report that this practice has helped them sleep with more peace.
Prayer is communicating with God. When I need to communicate with my wife, we talk face to face, by phone, by video communication or text message. I am saying things to her and she replies through a variety of means. There are lots of methods to communicate with God. Indeed, in one way or another, all the disciplines are about communicating with God. We can train ourselves to carry on an almost constant conversation with God. This is the idea, I think, behind praying without ceasing. How glorious it is to realize, as C. S. Lewis taught, that I have God’s complete attention because God has unlimited attention! But the main thing to remember is to talk to Him. And listen. So, the Bible is an essential tool for prayer. The old Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication form is a great way to pray.