As I write this, the Olympic Games have just drawn to a close and we are now waiting for the Paralympic Games. For the Olympics, there were vast numbers of TV channels here in England devoted to coverage of the Games. We’ve seen people who have dedicated themselves to a chosen sport and disciplined themselves to get to the very top. Their training schedules tend to be insane, and many of them have to combine training with ‘normal’ jobs to keep the money coming in.
These people have serious self-discipline. They’ve got into good habits when it comes to training, and then they’ve stuck with them until they are among the world’s very best.
That’s what discipline tends to be about. It’s not actually just about being a disciplined person, it’s about being disciplined for a reason. These sportsmen and women wanted to live out the Olympic motto, ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger‘.
For me, that’s a good illustration of Spiritual Disciplines. You don’t do spiritual disciplines so that you can be a discipined person, you do them because you love God, want to serve Him, and want to be like Jesus. You discipline yourself for a purpose. Spiritual Disciplines are like holy habits. You develop the habits because you’re longing to be holy. A disciplined sportsman might get up early so that he can go to the gym. A disciplined Christian might get up early to pray. A disciplined sportswoman might restrict herself in what she eats, in order to maintain her physique. A disciplined Christian might restrict themselves in what they eat, in order to avoid greed, or to associate with those who can’t afford to eat, or to spend time instead focusing on their relationship with God.
It’s all for a purpose. You don’t invest time talking with your friends just so you become a better talker do you? You’re doing it because you are constantly growing a relationship. In the same way, you don’t pray just for the sake of being a good pray-er. You do it to grow in your relationship with God.
It’s only because of God’s grace that we can relate to Him at all. But because His grace is so amazing, He’s given us ways in which we can deepen our relationship with Him. If we’re willing to make the time for these disciplines, if we’re willing to work on them, then we can grow in our relationship with God. That’s awesome. Give it a go.