Generally speaking, I cringe a bit upon hearing the word “discipline.” Maybe it’s just me, but the word doesn’t give me warm fuzzies or bring to mind fond memories. I think of the daily discipline I received as a very headstrong and rebellious child, and I think of the payback I’m currently receiving in the form of three children (disciplining who is a very full-time job, albeit one of the most important).

Discipline in all its forms, whether it be related to behavior, athletic training, studying to receive a degree, eating well for health, etc, is often unpleasant. But the results of discipline in any area of our lives are hard to argue with. As a runner, I know that if I choose to be disciplined in my training, regardless of how I feel about it at the moment, I will run the next race faster and feel better while doing it. The knowledge of and desire for that reward causes me to power through all of the unpleasant (even painful) moments and days where apathy attempts to set in. I know I must press on and run the miles.

Discipline doesn’t come easy in my own life (I share this to encourage those of you who relate). I have friends who seem to be naturally and effortlessly disciplined when it comes to eating, keeping their home clean, exercising, reading, journaling, you name it and it somehow all neatly fits into their organized schedule. I am not that person. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t important for me to grow in it. It is something I desire greatly, especially in my spiritual life and walk, because I see the great importance of it.

When it comes to our relationship with our Creator and Father, I believe that disciplining ourselves to regularly participate in that relationship is of utmost importance. Disciplining ourselves in spiritual practices such as prayer and regular Bible study (just to name a couple) will bring growth that we will never experience with a lackluster attitude toward our relationship with Him.

We have no shortage of distractions today to keep us from prioritizing time with our Father. Screens and social media must be making Satan’s job easier than ever. And just as a lack of effort in a marriage will slowly and over time destroy the relationship, if we aren’t making a conscious, regular effort in our relationship with God and walk with Jesus, our spiritual life will crumble, and the adversary will have us right where he wants us.

As a mom of three young-ish children, I’ve found that if I don’t discipline myself as a disciple, I have every possible reason under the sun to neglect all of the things that would draw me into a closer relationship with Him (you could say this of any season in life). It isn’t because He doesn’t have my heart. I think of Him often.

But a disciple isn’t someone who simply thinks about their Master. Rather it is someone who follows closely behind, imitating His actions, learning to live the way He lived, and loving the things He loves.

Isn’t it so interesting that Jesus, the divine Son of God, spent so much time in prayer? He did nothing without first approaching the Father. If our perfect Savior needed time in prayer with the Father, how much more do we need in our lives every day?

And when Jesus responded with scripture to Satan in the wilderness where He was being tempted, it wasn’t because the words came to Him miraculously, but because He knew His scriptures well. If we are not disciplined in learning the Word of God and writing it on our hearts when temptation comes our way, we risk being overcome.

I love a story I read about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian and significant figure in the resistance against Hitler. Bonhoeffer saw a need for stronger discipleship in the face of the evil of the German Reich and created an underground seminary in the town of Finkenwalde. A friend and historian came to visit him, curious about the intense way of living he’d heard about life in the seminary, and Bonhoeffer took his friend on a rowing trip to discuss this. One writer shares the encounter this way:

“When the two rowers reached the far shore, Bonhoeffer led Niesel up a small hill to a clearing from which they could see in the distance a vast field and the ‘runways of a nearby squadron.’ German fighter planes were taking off and landing, and soldiers moved hurriedly in purposeful patterns, like so many ants. Bonhoeffer spoke of a new generation of Germans in training, whose disciplines were formed “for a kingdom…of hardness and cruelty.” It would be necessary, he explained, to propose a superior discipline if the Nazis were to be defeated. ‘You have to be stronger than these tormentors that you find everywhere today.’”

Today in America we are not up against Nazi troops, we are not a nation under siege. However, we face the silent enemies of comfort and apathy daily. It is easy and comfortable to settle into a routine without giving any intentional thought to growing in our walk of faith.

Choosing to participate in spiritual disciplines is not easy, and it will look a little bit different for everyone. It takes effort, but of course, we are not alone in our efforts. The Spirit helps us in our attempts, and our Father no doubt blesses us with a deeper, stronger faith as we put our trust in Him.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27,

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

The New Living Translation says in verse 25, “All athletes are disciplined in their training.”

Our prize in Christ is eternal life, no doubt, but there is no better reward for our efforts than to be in a close relationship with our Father in Heaven.

James 4:8 says,

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…”

In the coming months, we will look at ways that we can grow in spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, hospitality, Bible study, and celebration (yes, God commands His people to celebrate!!). These things have helped me tremendously in my own walk of faith, and I can’t wait to share thoughts surrounding them with you!

Amanda Scott
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Amanda is the art-loving, coffee-drinking, garden-planting, travel-enthusiast wife to her best friend, a guy named Boo Scott, and mom to 3 quirky kids who she adores, Evie, Ever and Forest. She loves living in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where her husband preaches for the National Park church and their family enjoys exploring, hiking, mountain biking and serving the church and community. She has loved being a photographer for 16 years since graduating from Freed-Hardeman University, but her true passion is for the ministry opportunities she has with her husband, especially getting to listen to and offer support to younger ladies and sharing with them the incredible love and peace of Jesus.