I recently asked some young people, “How are we going to make 2021 better than 2020?” At first they didn’t understand me. After all, what can we do that makes a difference? But I pointed out that the worst of times externally can be the best of times internally. In the midst of chaos and conflict, we can be growing more like Jesus.
How do we do that?
How do we grow more like Jesus? God gives us the Holy Spirit, who causes growth. But it isn’t completely passive on our part. We put ourselves in a place where the Holy Spirit is unhindered in His transforming work. That involves engaging in spiritual disciplines that are as old as the Bible, disciplines that Jesus Himself engaged in. A key phrase in this regard is in 1 Timothy 4:7
Discipline yourself for the purpose of godlinessNew American Standard Bible
Or here is Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of 1 Timothy 4:7b-8:
Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a discplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.The Message
As we get started in the year 2021, I want to encourage all of us to grow in spiritual disciplines. To that end, I invite you to fill in the form below, so I can know how to regularly pray for you during the months of January and February.
So, January and February have passed. I DID pray for the people that filled out the form above. They were added to a list in my PrayerMate app: “Jan-Feb Spiritual Disciplines.”
How did it go? As I told the people who signed up, this exercise was for my benefit as much as for theirs. I want to continue growing in the spiritual discipline of prayer. What did I learn? [HANG IN THERE WITH ME… this is going to sound like technology is taking the place of spiritual discipline, but I don’t believe that’s really the case] Well, the names and requests that I added made for some pretty long lists, and that isn’t working well for me with the PrayerMate app. What happens is that I am discouraged from entering a time of prayer because the list is so long, and the app really works best if I COMPLETE working through the list at one sitting. So…. I’m probably going to adjust the app so that I am presented with a shorter list for any given prayer session. If I’m out on a walk, and I have hours of uninterrupted time, I might hit SEVERAL sessions. Otherwise, when I’m at home and find it hard to carve out a long time for prayer, I’ll at least work through a shorter session.
So much for the MECHANICS of this discipline. There are several other aspects that I’m learning about, but have really not made enough progress yet to comment.
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