Spiritual Disciplines, What They are and Why They Matter


As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God.

– Psalm 42:1

We are wired with a longing for connection with our God. Innately we know that no one knows us more deeply or understands us better than the God who created us. There is a profound desire within each one of us for a meaningful relationship with God.

Our souls pant for the living water that only Jesus can give.

How do we connect with a God we cannot see or touch?

As believers, we know that Jesus bridged the chasm between us and God that was created by our sin. Praise God, we have peace with Him through his death on the cross. But while we know that we have a positional relationship with God, we can still find ourselves feeling distant from him or feel that he is silent in our pain. Even in good times, we have a hunger to know him better. 

Throughout the generations, there are simple acts known as spiritual disciplines that God-followers have practiced to help them hear his voice, to know his will, and to have an intimate walk with him. (Think King David!).

What are some of these spiritual disciplines that people in the Old Testament, Jesus, and people throughout church history have implemented?  Prayer, confession, meditation, study, fasting, sabbath, silence, solitude, simplicity, giving, service, and worship. 

Spiritual disciplines can clear away the noise that surrounds us

They can also overshadow the distractions of this world so that we can hear from God in a way that gives us his perspective and his wisdom.

To be clear, these acts do NOT save us or make us more pleasing to God.

1 Samuel 15:22 says,Obedience is better than sacrifice.” 

There were times that Jesus—probably because he practiced spiritual disciplines(!)—knew that the right thing at the time was to NOT follow a specific rule!

In Mark 3, Jesus healed a man on the sabbath which the Pharisees considered a violation.

In this same chapter, Jesus walked away from people who needed healing because he knew that the greater need was to pull away with the disciples.

We know that Jesus fasted (40 days in the desert!), and that his disciples fasted, but in Matthew 9, Jesus was asked why he did not have his disciples fast.

Even on a simply human level, Christ’s life was remarkable because he always understood the why behind what he was doing. He always knew what the Kingdom priority was because he had carved out time to listen to the Father and to be in tune with him. He practiced spiritual disciplines!

If done in humility, spiritual disciplines can:

  • mute the noise that keeps us from hearing God.
  • give our souls the rest they long for.
  • open our eyes to God’s majesty.
  • remove the clutter from our lives that prevents us from seeing clearly.
  • deepen our understanding of who he is.

Bottomline? Spiritual disciplines can draw us into deeper intimacy with Jesus and help align our thinking to his thoughts and our ways to his ways, ultimately bringing peace, a God-aligned focus and soul satisfaction.

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

John 7:37

Want to learn more?

The Family Support Ministry is hosting the Bible Study, Enjoying Jesus, a 7-week study on Spiritual Disciplines. We’ll meet “together” on Thursdays in our Facebook Group. To study along with us, join the Family Support Facebook Group.

We start Thursday, January 28, at 11am PST. There is material that will be easily accessible for you to do during the week to explore these disciplines, and we’ll come “together” on Thursdays at 11am to share and encourage one another with what we’re learning.

Keep checking back on the Facebook page for updates and content updates so that we can be mutually encouraged! May our souls drink deeply from the waters that Jesus has freely given.