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The Benefits of Practicing Spiritual Disciplines

(This is the last part of a talk I recently gave on how I practice the spiritual disciplines; read part one here and part two here.)

Let me say again that I am not trying to convince you that my practice of the spiritual disciplines is the best way. I don’t want anyone to think that God is impressed by the time that I spend reading his Word and praying. He isn’t! I am a justified sinner, and practice of the spiritual disciplines doesn’t alter that one jot. If Christ has redeemed you by his death on the cross, you have his righteousness complete and nothing can add to that – not even reading your Bible for hours on end. Practice of the spiritual disciplines is simply a way to draw near to the foot of the cross and to be refreshed in the grace of God. My particular practice of meditating on Scripture has benefited me in the following ways:

1) My mind is renewed first thing in the morning. Without preaching the gospel to my soul at the beginning of the day, I would live out that day as a functional unbeliever. I might not remember everything I read (in fact, I often have to look it up again when Aaron asks me about my quiet time!), but immersing my heart in God’s truth before I do anything else is a practical way to express my dependence on him and to prevent me from seeking do everything in my own (limited!) strength.

2) I am more likely to recall Scripture. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” and that is just what daily meditation on God’s word does. By soaking my soul in Scripture, I have godly wisdom (rather than human wisdom) in my mind when I or someone else needs encouragement.

3) The Lord’s truth becomes more real than my feelings or circumstances. Sometimes – often even – my circumstances seem to say the exact opposite of God’s promises, and my emotions feel more vivid than the peace purchased for me on the cross. Daily meditation on God’s Word helps me to keep perspective and to affirm that he is sovereign and good and that his gospel is truer than anything I feel or experience.

4) God’s Word provides me with comfort and endurance for trial. Psalm 119 speaks over and over again about the relationship between affliction and delight in God’s Word. Suffering has driven me to the Lord in his Word, and in turn the Lord has sustained me through suffering by his Word. Even the most well-meaning words of comfort from friends often fall short, but meditating on Scripture has provided a balm for my troubled heart and patience to wait on the Lord.

5) Through daily practice of the spiritual disciplines, I find joy in the gospel. In God’s Word, I see over and over again my need for a Savior and God’s provision of a Savior. Over these past few years of devoting myself to meet with the Lord every morning, I have seen my gratitude for his great sacrifice increase.

I could say so much more, but I hope that I have been able to give you a taste of the satisfaction to be found in meeting with the Lord by daily practice of the spiritual disciplines. He has much grace for you, whether you are just starting to seek time with him or seeking to be more consistent in that time or wanting to get more of him out of the practice you already have in place. If you need to, find fellowship, make a plan, and ask God to make you more aware of your need for him. And above all, trust that the Savior will draw you to himself and give you joy, wisdom, and comfort from his gospel. He is faithful and he will do it!

1 comment:

Lauren said...

I just read through all three parts of this series. Thanks for sharing all this. It's very helpful to see a plan written out in a practical way, to see how someone else could apply it to his or her life.