Disciplined Spirituality

partialstands1If God is not first in your thoughts and efforts in the morning, he will be in the last place the remainder of the day. - E.M. Bounds

How do I enable God to be more than my flavor of the moment? How do I keep the Lord of the universe numero uno in my life? The only means for me to maintain space in my life for God is to forego anything else that could become pre-eminent to Him. It must be a volitional act, a willful choice. It takes discipline, day in and day out, to maintain the focus for God in my life.

 

 

To establish my will and maintain it against the moment by moment bombardment of a cultural environment that refutes my solitary focus on Him, I need to actively engage in a variety of disciplines that can help me hold steadfast in my relationship with God.The preeminent discipline, prayer, is essentially regular and frequent two-way communication.

 Two-way communication with God and two-way communication with fellow believers individually, as part of a small group, and as part of a large group. Why the emphasis on communication as a two-way activity? One of the ways that our culture eats at my identity is by establishing that what I think matters more than what others think.

If what others think doesn’t matter, then I don’t need to listen to them. In our culture, all I need to do is be focused on what is best for me, how I can convince others of the over-arching importance of my needs, and make sure that those around me carry out the fulfillment of my needs. Prayer—communication with God, listening to Him, sharing my life with Him, finding out what He thinks about who I am is the only way to short-circuit my self-obsession.

When I turn my focus from myself to God and others and listen, I become less self-absorbed and more absorbed with and by the Almighty. I model what Christ does with us by listening to the needs of others. Then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can communicate to God on their behalf.

The more I listen to Him and others the more I am aware that I do not run the universe. And as I become more humble before my Father and my sisters and brothers, I become more God’s emissary, so that what I do and say becomes what He would do and say. There becomes more room for Him in my life, and more opportunities to know Him as He is.

Prayer is the first and most important discipline because it establishes a means of staying on track with His purpose rather than allowing my lesser self to direct my goals. If I don’t stay close to God, then whatever disciplines I do, whether fasting, studying, celebrating, worshiping, or others will be about pleasing myself and/or those around me rather than pleasing God. Our culture preaches that more is better, but the truth of the matter is I am a finite creature who is bounded by space and time.

Though I often live my life perpetuating the illusion, I am not a god. Willfully disciplining my self by listening to Him and then following through on what He says is the most important act of love for God and for my sisters and brothers I can commit. By depending on Him to direct me I become a sharer of His love to everyone I encounter.

 

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