Don The Armour

September 4, 2023

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Joshua 1:8 (ESV)


We are all instructed to have spiritual discipline, just as Joshua was, to read God’s word, pray, and meditate every day. There is a modern notion that spirituality is all about feeling and emotion, that we need to feel a certain way when we come before God. I once heard a sermon saying we should “pray out of desperation, not discipline.” I don’t know about you, but I have days where I don’t feel like doing any of these things, and discipline is the only thing that pushes me to do them. Would it be better if I didn’t do them and waited for desperation to strike me? I don’t think so. For me, it is a cycle where the discipline feeds the desperation, and in return, the desperation nourishes the discipline.

I’ve found that the best spiritual fruits come when I’m most disciplined; however, this is also when I’m most vulnerable to becoming self-righteous. If we take our eyes off the cross, and it becomes all about discipline, we can lose the purpose behind these duties. I can always tell when this happens because everything becomes fragile. A slight disruption in my routine can cause my spiritual life to fall apart. I may have to travel for a few days, and I can’t manage my regular practices; then, my prayer life is suddenly suffering, and I’m feeling distant from God. In these cases, I’ve relied too much on discipline and not enough on grace. If we’re fully abiding in Christ, our external circumstances shouldn’t be able to hinder our relationship with him.

As with most things, in the end, it’s about striking a healthy balance. A disciplined life is great because it keeps us sober-minded and self-controlled (1 Peter 4:7) and helps us prioritize our relationship with God. However, we have to be careful not to become like Pharisees in our disciplines, missing the point of the whole thing.