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Are the spiritual disciplines in the Bible? What benefit are the spiritual disciplines?

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"Spiritual disciplines" are lists of activities that various authors have culled from the Bible to help us become more spiritually mature. While the Bible does give us guidance as to how to live a Christian life, spiritual disciplines are usually given in a book, in a condensed form. Different writers include different activities in their lists; here are a few.

Study the Bible: "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11). We should definitely study God's word—we can't worship someone we don't know.

Pray: "…pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It's sad that the diversions of the world lead us to the point where we have to be reminded to talk with our God.

Fast: "And when you fast…" (Matthew 6:16). Fasting has rather fallen out of favor, but Jesus and others in the Bible used it as a tool for worship and discipline.

Take a Sabbath: "Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD…" (Exodus 16:23). Jesus is our Sabbath rest. But it's still a good idea to take a break from our business and spend time with God.

Be in community: "…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:25). Sometimes it feels easier to live the Christian life without others we feel aren't "doing it right." But God tells us that living in community with the church is an essential aspect of the Christian life.

Silence/Listening: "But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me" (Psalm 131:2). "Speak, LORD, for your servant hears" (1 Samuel 3:9). Taking time to be still and listen to God is essential for our relationship—as long as it doesn't stray into the realm of mysticism.

Worship: "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives" (Matthew 26:30). Singing praise songs is often the easiest way we have of acknowledging how good God is to us. Expressions of worship can take many other forms as well.

Service: "When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, '…If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet'" (John 13:12, 14). Some Christians serve as easily as they breathe. Others need to take the time and be deliberate about it. But all believers should serve.

Solitude: "And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed" (Mark 1:35). Jesus often took the chance to go off alone and focus on God. If He needed this discipline, we certainly do.

Submission: "…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21). Submission is a type of service—finding what another needs and bowing our will to it.

Celebration: "And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened" (Acts 4:21). In the Old Testament, God regularly led the Israelites to set up monuments and feast days to mark significant times when He had worked in their lives. It is good to celebrate the blessing God gives us.

These are a few of the "spiritual disciplines"; there are others, depending on the author. Spiritual disciplines are not meant to be legalistic rules, but tools that bring us closer to God. And it must be said, the strict or even casual adherence to any of the disciplines is not necessary for salvation.

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