In today’s blog, I want to speak about Spiritual Disciplines. By this I mean routine things we do in our daily lives to deepen our relationship with God. This could be reading the Bible, prayer, worship or other ways you connect with Him.
I’ve reflected recently how making these spiritual disciplines second nature in my own life requires the same kind of attitude and determination my gym life requires.
I hope you find this metaphor helpful in reviewing your own spiritual disciplines... it is by no means a blog about your health, diet or attitude to exercise!
So, to get started, I’ve split the gym-life attitudes into 4 categories:
* The January-Joiners,
* The Newbies
* The Grunters
* The Healthy Hearts.
Let’s begin with the January-Joiners.
According to the Mirror last year, Brits wasted a total of £558m on unused gym memberships.
A big majority of this wasted money was due to people that joined in January for a quick attempt to ditch the Christmas pounds. More often than not, the sudden routine of going everyday faded before February.
Sometimes it can be like this with our relationship with Jesus.
We attend a great talk, a summer festival or a prayer night with lots of great ministry and feel on a high. We make promises that we’re going to do it every day but suddenly, we can’t keep it up and it fades. This is totally normal because creating a routine takes discipline.
If you feel like this yoyo-action is where you are at, there’s hope!
Second come the Newbies.
A couple of weeks back, I took my Mother with me to the gym for the first time. She’d just about cracked the Stairmaster when I took her through to the weights room. Before I knew it, she leant round the machine and whispered “It’s not working”.
What my Mother didn’t understand was that she wasn’t ready to lift the same weight as me, and needed to take it at her own pace.
We all know people who are new to Christianity and it’s disciplines (it might be you!), the people that are just dipping their toe in the water, like trying the gym once or twice.
In this case, we are given the privilege of “training” alongside them, perhaps giving them tips, showing them what a life with faith could look like.
Next are my least favourite people in the gym: the Grunters.
These are the men and women that simply just lift weights (very heavy ones!).
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good weight train but if you’re needing to grunt, take it down a peg!
Often these people are just focused on their ‘leg days’ or ‘arm days’ and very rarely do any cardio: they don’t get the full package.
When it comes to my Spiritual Disciplines, this I am most guilty of. I’m really good at focusing on sung worship or prayer but I never pick up my Bible. I don’t the full package of a relationship with God because I am too focused on what makes me feel good or connect quicker.
I am a God Grunter.
Lastly are the Healthy Hearts.
The people that spend every other day at the gym. They have a mixture of weights and cardio and then take days of rest. They listen to their body and work with it.
How often do we take days to rest and listen to God?
Just like my attitude with exercise, I get obsessed about being practical all the time. A need to see results overtakes everything and it’s the same with my attitude to Spiritual Disciplines. I become too busy being active that I leave no space to allow my soul to breathe and to just listen to God.
So this week, I’m challenging you to think about your Spiritual Disciplines and how you could improve it before the added complication of a relationship.
James K.A. Smith says that ‘Spiritual Disciplines are the way to reset the orientation of your spiritual compass on Jesus’: it’s a key part to building our connection with Him.
Lastly, I want to say that it doesn’t matter which attitude you may be starting from.
Just like our bodies work differently in exercise, we all have individual attitudes and relationships with God.