If you asked me to pinpoint the most significant spiritual “revival” in my life, it wouldn’t be that time at Mount Lebanon in high school where all my friends cried during the worship service and so I did too. It wouldn’t be a “camp high” or a specific sermon or a time I saw someone speak in tongues. It wouldn’t be the time I heard that one band play or the time I went to that one church. I’m not saying spiritual revival can’t happen in these venues—I’ve seen them happen through most of them, and I’ve been convicted to change aspects of my life through many of them too.But the biggest change in my life, the most lasting change in my life, came as the result of sitting in the quiet of my own room in the presence of my God.
As one of my college electives, I took the “Spiritual Disciplines” class with Dr. Daehnert, and we studied Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Foster divides the spiritual disciplines into three categories—the inward disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study; the outward disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission, and service; and the corporate disciplines of confession, worship, guidance, and celebration. John Piper’s podcast, desiringGod, defines the spiritual disciplines as “those practices found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ.” He goes on to explain that “they are activities. They are not Attitudes. Disciplines are practices. Spiritual disciplines are things you do. They are not character qualities. They are not graces. They are not the fruit of the Spirit. They are things you do.”
So the spiritual disciplines are practical applications, practical actions. We aren’t going to get into a “work-based salvation” here—if anything, practicing the spiritual disciplines (and failing often, if you’re anything like me) will show you just how impossible working your way into God’s good graces would be. Rather, the spiritual disciplines build your relationship with Christ. Think of them like dates. Accepting Jesus as your Savior is the commitment, like a marriage. Practicing the disciplines is like dating and courting once you’re already married—it will make the relationship much better and deeper and, without it, the relationship will suffer, but if you skip a date, your marriage won’t be nullified.
I can’t do all the spiritual disciplines justice in one blog, so we’re going to take them a week at a time. In my class, we had “homework” to practice these disciplines (on the honor system of course—how can you grade a prayer?). And at first that’s all they were—a to-do list to check off. That may be how it is for you, too, and that’s ok. But I stuck with it, and they became more than an assignment, and they will for you, too. Practicing these disciplines in daily life will change your daily life. Practicing these disciplines will change your walk with God.
For this week, get a journal. Write in it every single day. Even if it’s just a quick sentence like, “Today was the worst” or “Today I got a new job!” or “I haven’t felt very close to you lately, God.” Even if it’s sitting in class waiting for the teacher and scribbling down your thoughts. Even if it’s on the bathroom floor in tears, like some of my entries were. Just write something, anything, to God. This week, just talk to God in writing consistently, every single day.