I recall walking into my father’s room as a boy and seeing him sitting in the bed reading his Bible. It was his custom to read in the evening just prior to going off to sleep. When we traveled together, I recall him reading his Bible in the hotel room in the evening, at the beach condo, and in the tent while on a hunting trip. In fact, the habit of reading the Bible daily was something that I can recall my father doing and I also recall how he taught me to do the same thing (as he often encouraged a Proverb per day along with other readings).

When it comes to our physical health, doctors tell us that our eating habits will shape us (both externally and internally). If eating habits and exercise habits are important for the physical body, how much more are the spiritual habits of those who are children of God? Jerry Bridges once penned these words, “Habits are the thought and emotional patterns engraved on our minds. These internal habit patterns play just as forceful a role as external influences on our actions – in fact, perhaps more so.” [1] We are called to a life of sanctification, always moving and always learning which will lead to a life that is always conforming to the image of Christ. In order to do so, we must develop good habits that will shape us in the journey of faith.

Bible Reading: If you read four chapters of God’s Word each day, you can read the entire Bible in a year. I remember David Miller (an evangelist friend) who has much of the Bible memorized telling me once that he went for a span of ten years reading sixteen chapters of God’s Word every single day. That allowed him to read the Bible in its entirety four times each calendar year. No matter if your goal is to read the whole Bible within the span of twelve months or to simply be reading the Bible everyday, it’s a good habit to form and it helps you worship God on a daily basis. Look for good plans (in both print and app version) to help you stay on track daily over at ESVBible.org.

Prayer: One way to commune with God on a daily basis is through his Word and that naturally opens the heart to pray. We must move beyond using God as a glorified bellhop to bring us answers to urgent needs or blessings to make our heart rejoice. We must carve out time to adore God and to thank him for what blessings we’ve already received from him. Consider how the habit of prayer will transform your life, your speech, your anxiety, and your worship.

Christian Fellowship: Far too much effort is placed on secular fellowship to the neglect of Christian fellowship. Read in the book of Acts and throughout the epistles and notice how often the church is spending time together in fellowship, prayer, breaking of bread, and all of this was on a daily basis. It really is true that the people you spend time with will shape you and leave a mark upon you. We need good marks and in order to be shape others and be shaped by others is to intentionally carve out time for Christian fellowship. How many times have you heard of someone in your local church complaining about not connecting well with others all while they spend more time complaining than they do intentionally inviting others into their lives. Christians need community and friendships that are robust and healthy—producing a higher fellowship than can be attained through a football gathering over pizza.

Journaling: You might not be the diary type, but a journal where you track your progress in prayer and Bible reading along with your own progress in the faith is a very healthy habit. In this journal, you might have some longer entries while others might be brief. At times you might just doodle and write down simple thoughts, but it will serve as a means of charting progress in the faith.

Fasting: One of the great disciplines in the Christian life is fasting. To go without food deliberately for the purpose of spiritual progress through prayer and Scripture intake can be enormously helpful in demonstrating the need for God over food. The body will scream for food, but as you continue to give your body more of God—you begin to settle into a sanctifying dependence that awakens holy affections and enables you to mortify sin.

Note Taking: Beyond the practice of journaling, the art of note taking can help a person connect thoughts and put on paper helpful nuggets of information that will increase learning and provide easier opportunities of discipleship. Some people prefer to use shorthand during note taking, but whatever works best for the individual should be the method while at the same time staying away from complete sentences when possible. There have been studies that link handwritten notes and the brain (especially in men) to a greater capacity of retain information.

Reading (other than social media): One of the best ways to grow as a Christian is to read good biblical literature. This would involve a good commentary and it could include resources such as technical, pastoral, and even study notes in a good study Bible. Going beyond the typical devotional reading is best. To take on a book on a particular subject by a reputable author is a good practice that will help you think through theological issues and increase your faith in God. If you don’t know where to begin, consider looking for a good reading list potentially on your church’s website or through another trustworthy ministry. You can always begin by asking your pastor for suggestions.

Serving: What a blessing it is to serve others. God has called us to serve and to exercise our spiritual gifts within the context of our local church, but we can go beyond to serve our community and those with needs in our community. It’s always a blessing to serve others and to give rather than to always be on the receiving end of such service. When it comes to the life of the church, do you show up expecting for others to serve you or do you have a desire to serve in and through your church? Faithful serving produces greater humility and prevents a selfish personality from developing.

Building a Vocabulary (especially theological): Have you been listening to a sermon from your pastor or a lesson from a Bible teacher in your church and couldn’t understand specific words he was employing? Rather than being frustrated with your inability to know the words, try jotting them down and making some effort to learn the words yourself? In fact, reading and searching through good dictionaries and theological concordances can help you build your theological vocabulary which will enable you to add additional layers of learning and discipleship as you grow as a follower of Jesus.

Exercise: It may sound crazy and a bit out of step with the rest of this list, but if you put effort into your mind and discipline yourself in discipleship, it would be a good idea to take care of your body too. Not only will a regular exercise routine decrease your stress levels and increase your physical health, it will enable your mind to think on the things you’ve been reading, the words you’ve been learning, the books you’ve been reading, and the sermons you’ve been taking in. In addition to this meditation, you can spend good quality time in prayer as you exercise. We should not neglect and harm the body that the Lord has given us. Better health leads us to a better quality of life and enjoyable ministry.

No matter what we do—whether we pray or journal or read—we must do all for the glory of God.

 

 

Will you pass this on to your friends?
Share on Facebook
Facebook
46Share on Google+
Google+
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
0Share on StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon
0Share on Tumblr
Tumblr
0Email this to someone
email
Print this page
Print