The Spiritual Disciplines You Didn't Choose
God wants to move us from a place of rebellion and resignation to acceptance and joy.
There are two kinds of spiritual disciplines but today I want to talk about the kind that we understand less and that we struggle with more. The first kind of spiritual disciplines are the ones we choose. Those are the ones most people think of when it comes to Lent. If you've been hanging around our church offices last week you may have overheard somebody say, "I'm giving up coffee," or, "I'm giving up chocolate," or, "That's nothing, I'm giving up Facebook."
We understand these disciplines. They're the ones that were in the gospel reading where Jesus says to his followers: "When you give to people in need … when you pray … when you fast." He assumes that you will do this. As a follower of Christ it will be a part of your life to choose spiritual disciplines like this. And he makes this one central point: When you do them, don't ever do them to try to prove to yourself or someone else how spiritual you are.
The only reason to do the spiritual disciplines that you choose is because you have a Heavenly Father who sees you, who longs to draw you close, and who wants to reward you with the intimacy of his presence, with the tenderness of his compassionate word to you, who wants to give you the grace that you need for this moment. And that reward, that should be so compelling that yes, you would even do these disciplines as difficult as they are. It is not easy to give money when you know you might need it. In fact, you do need it. It's not easy to pray, to set aside time and to stop our motion and the self-management of our life and cry out in need. It is not easy to fast and go without food or something and feel the hunger. And ...
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Kevin A. Miller is the Executive Director of Ministry Advancement at Christianity Today and senior pastor at Church of the Savior in Wheaton, Illinois.