People ask me regularly what I do for exercise. My typical response is, “I do lots of things including weights, hiking, running, and yoga.” The response is usually a confused defeated look. As though I were hiding the magical routine that keeps me in shape. The real reason I stay physically fit is because I am DISCIPLINED in exercising between four and five days per week. I choose different types of exercise so my body never gets complacent. It makes sense that my body stays in shape when I maintain this habit.
Our spiritual body just like our physical body. It needs a workout regime to stay strong. Spiritual disciplines are the activities we practice to strengthen our faith. They are habits we develop to live a full life. When we don’t practice spiritual disciplines we can expect weak spiritual performance. Even more than being physically fit I desire to be spiritual fit. Here are five of my favorite spiritual disciplines that will strengthen your faith.
Five Spiritual Disciplines That Strengthen Your Faith
#1 - Study the Word
This is by far the most important of the spiritual disciplines because it’s the foundation of spiritual fitness. Studying the word of God is like training your core. When your abs and back are strong you can accomplish a lot more and you are protected from injury. The same is true of studying God’s word. It strengthens your spiritual core and protects you from harm.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3: 1-2 ESV)
When I say study I am not just talking about reading the bible although that is a good start. When you were in school how did you study? You read, took notes, then memorized facts that you knew would be on the test right? This is how I study God’s word.
#2 - Prayer
Prayer is spiritual communication between man and God. It is the practice that allows us to share our needs as well as our thankfulness with God. It also is how God shares His thoughts with us. This is the spiritual discipline that we are to practice at all times.
...pray without ceasing, (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
God wants to communicate with us at all times and about all things. Prayer is like lifting dumbbells. At first we might start with a 5 minute session. It’s lightweight. However as we get stronger in our prayer life we will increase our time, power, and breakthrough we experience. Don’t feel the pressure to start a habit of prayer that is three hours long. Start by creating an intentional habit to pray. Just start lifting the weights. Here are some great resources on prayer that have helped me grow in the area of prayer.
#3 - Worship
Worship is the act of honoring God. This is our workout mixtape. Have you ever tried to workout to slow classical piano? No? Me either. So don’t try to lead a dynamic power-filled spiritual life if you are not prepared to praise. Worship changes the atmosphere. It ushers in an attitude of gratitude, awe, and humility. I find it difficult to worship when I am angry, frustrated, or sad. Emotions the enemy to my spirit would love for me to wallow in. However, when I choose to worship those toxic emotions roll off easier. Don’t be intimidated if you are not musically inclined. God inhabits the praises of his people, so to Him you sound amazing! #carpoolkarokewithjesus
#4 - Generosity
Giving our time, money, and resources is a challenging spiritual discipline. It requires us to trust we will have all we need. It’s like signing up for a marathon. We don’t know how we are going to finish 26 miles but we start with one. When we practice generosity we mirror the nature of God. It can be daunting at first. I believe God wants us to adopt a generous lifestyle because it sets us apart. It points people to Him. I heard one pastor say, “I’ve never been able to out-give God.” I couldn’t say it better than that. Just imagine if every Christian in the world decided to try to “out-give” God? Our world would change overnight.
The world of the generous gets larger and larger; (Proverbs 11:24 MSG)
If you are looking at your bank account and there isn’t anything to give, ask God to show you where you can begin to become generous? Trust me when I say that we ALL have something to share, which leads me to my final spiritual discipline that strengthens your faith.
#5 - Serve Others
Jesus came to serve. He could have come as a mighty king establishing his reign with power and might, he chose to humble himself. If you want to be first in the new kingdom, be the least in hierarchy here on earth. If you think you are too sick, poor, or unskilled to serve here are just a few of the thousands of ways you can help others.
This list is infinite, because God’s servant-hearted spirit is infinite. You might be asking “how” all these spiritual disciplines will strengthen your faith? They all stretch us in some way. Whether it is in understanding, focus, rest, trust in resources, or in humility. These five spiritual disciplines when practiced regularly will set your feet on a solid foundation to change your life and the lives of those you influence. How do I stay spiritually fit? These are my five favorite exercises. Don’t look confused...remember it’s not WHAT I’m doing, it is being DISCIPLINED in practicing them regularly.