Sunday, January 01, 2012

Spiritual Disciplines

During 2011 I finally read the classic book Celebration of Discipline.  It is a delightfully practical discussion of how to adopt Yeshua's habits and the ways doing so changes us.

(For part of the year a chapter of this book would be the initial topic of discussion when I met each week with a prayer-and-accountability friend.  Maybe this year I'll blog a bit about my reaction to each chapter and how its discipline is part of my life.)

I also read the far more dry and academic The Spirit of the Disciplines.  That book made a few good points but was mostly too abstract to really interest me.

Spiritual disciplines are simply those aspects of being Yeshua's disciple that require some intentionality.  They are "disciplines" because they require self-discipline to do regularly and well.

Disciples study their master's lifestyle, worldview, use of scripture, and methods of worshipping.  This is a broad and big task!  So there will never be a complete list of spiritual disciplines.

Celebration of Discipline discusses meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.

The Spirit of the Disciplines discusses solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, secrecy, sacrifice, study, worship, celebration, service, prayer, fellowship, confession, and submission.

Notice how making such a list depends upon how you define the terms.  Is there a difference between solitude and secrecy?  Is meditation a subset of prayer and study?

There are plenty of disciplines not discussed in those two books.

As Yeshua's disciples we should think twice before departing from his lifestyle.  We should memorize verses of scripture (and Yeshua's own parables and sayings).  We should spend time with the needy.  We should help God distribute the good things of his Kingdom.  We should pray about what to do with our free time.  We should enjoy the Biblical holy days and Shabbat (I do respect that people can acknowledge and learn from these without actually celebrating them).

Some people also include helpful habits such as journaling and composing worshipful songs among the disciplines even though Yeshua did not do them.

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