We are all familiar with the spiritual disciplines and most of us are aware their importance to a healthy Christian life. Most of us practice the disciplines of reading scripture, praying, fellowshipping with other believers, and perhaps even fasting. But a few cautions may be in order as our familiarity with the disciplines may lead to a kind of contempt. In his excellent little book, Holy Helps For a Godly Life, a work on the spiritual disciplines, Richard Rogers offers 5 cautions meant to ensure we are using them rightly.
Understand them well. First you need to throughly consider and properly understand spiritual disciplines and the benefits they may bring. That will allow you to use them in the way they were intended. “Encourage yourself to this, for seeing that some have such great power for well-framing the heart and life (each in its own way), how much more will using all of them together bring a large and generous blessing in this way.” So use the spiritual disciplines, but make sure you know why you use them.
Esteem them highly. Because the spiritual disciplines are precious and have the most noble purposes, you should understand them well so you can use them with the greatest reverence. It’s not enough just to use them, you must use them with proper reverence and gratitude.
Do not use them for show. Do not use the spiritual disciplines so you can tell other people about how godly you are, or even so you can show off to yourself. Don’t read the Bible so you can Instagram your devotions or humblebrag about it on Twitter. Examine your heart to ensure you are using the spiritual disciplines for the noblest of purposes, which is to know and honor God.
Use them constantly. Don’t allow yourself to grow weary or to grow slack in your commitment to the spiritual disciplines. Make sure you don’t give up before building the habit, and make sure you don’t grow weary after continuing the habit through many years. You will never outgrow your need for these simple but powerful habits.
Confess your failures. Be diligent and consistent in examining your faults and failures in pursuing the spiritual disciplines. Don’t attempt to cover up your sin and your sinful attitudes, but confess them to the Lord, trusting that he will hear and forgive you. Having confessed and having received his forgiveness, carry on your use of the disciplines in a fresh way, just like you did before.
For those who have been reading Holy Helps For a Godly Life with me, this brings us to the end of the book. Thanks for reading with me, and let’s read another classic together soon.