Join us all of 2023 developing a different spiritual practice each month. SPIRITUAL PRACTICES are intentional regular activities to deepen our relationship with God and mold us to be more like Jesus.
JANUARY | BIBLE READING
Many people set a Bible reading goal at the beginning of the year. Some read through the Bible cover to cover. Others read through the Bible chronologically. Some read through the New Testament. Others may focus on one or two books and read them over and over.
The key is to develop the regular habit of reading God’s word to allow God’s Spirit to speak to us. In many ways, reading God’s word and listening to the Spirit is like training for anything—to help us get better at living godly lives.
FEBRUARY | SABBATH
God gives the Israelites the Ten Commandments after bringing them out of slavery in Egypt, and Sabbath is his fourth command. Each command trains them to be God’s people and show the world who God is. The Sabbath commandment reminds them God is a God of rest. After generations of slavery, the Israelites only know hard labor. God tells them even he rested after all the work of creation, not because he needed to, but as a gift and model for people.
We often can feel enslaved to our work today. Work texts, emails or calls come in at all times of the day. In the midst of this frenzied world, God calls us to rest.
Practicing Sabbath will take just that—practice. Begin by setting aside one day, or even part of a day, to cease our everyday routine to enjoy God and the life he has given us. The key is finding a different rhythm that restores and refreshes what the week and world take from us.
MARCH | FASTING
Fasting, or abstaining from something, can be done for spiritual reasons. It might be abstaining from social media, radio/TV, video games, drink or food (one food, a meal or maybe longer). Spiritual fasting is not about the duration of the fast, nor is it a mathematical equation to manipulate God into acting. It’s also not a cleanse or a diet. Instead, fasting is a way to focus one’s heart and mind on God.
Consider how you might incorporate the spiritual discipline of fasting into your walk with God. Make a plan and choose a date. If you’ve never fasted before, start small. Perhaps you decide to fast by skipping a meal to focus on God. Maybe you fast from technology or social media to eliminate distractions and center your heart on God. Or you could fast from television for a day or week to read your Bible or a book that challenges you to grow spiritually.
APRIL | CONFESSION
Confession is admitting and agreeing with God that our thoughts, actions or words were wrong and sinful. It’s not merely saying “I have sinned,” but being specific and honest with God about our sins.
A regular discipline of confession clears the air between us and God, allowing a deeper relationship with him. We can make a regular habit of asking God to reveal sin and confessing immediately when we recognize our sin. We cling to the promise that when we confess, God is “faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
MAY | SECRECY
Secrecy is deliberately choosing to do the right thing without seeking recognition. Perhaps, even taking steps to ensure people don’t find out about it.
Jesus introduces this concept in the Sermon on the Mount as he instructs his followers to do something solely for the recognition of God. It’s doing the right thing without self-promotion (Philippians 2:3). It trains the heart to leave any public recognition up to God.
The discipline of secrecy reminds us of what is important. It trains us to trust God instead of putting our trust in the people around us. It helps us recognize that our character is what matters.
JUNE | WORSHIP
Worship is the practice of focusing on and responding to God. In worship we respond to the awesomeness of God –his power, beauty, glory and holiness.
Jesus models that worship is both public and private. He spends time at local synagogues for teaching. He also regularly withdraws alone to spend time with the Father.
We too need times of public worship where we are strengthened by meeting together and proclaiming the greatness of God. We also need time to meet privately with God and deepen our personal worship of him. The two fuel each other. Through the Holy Spirit, we can worship God wherever and whenever, public and in private. And the more we worship God, the more we grow to become like him in our character.
JULY | SOLITUDE
Solitude is withdrawing temporarily in privacy to be alone with God. Solitude offers the opportunity for uninterrupted time with the Lord to grow our relationship with him and practice other spiritual disciplines such as prayer, worship, confession or sitting in silence.
Jesus spent regular time alone with the Father throughout his ministry. He withdraws to solitary places to pray, rest and listen to the Father. As crowds press in on him and his disciples, he calls his disciples away to a quiet place to rest and be alone.
Solitude offers respite from the hustle and hurry of our lives to be restored by the Lord. We can regain God’s perspective, listen for his voice, express our faith and trust in him and seek his will about something in our lives. Regular practice of solitude deepens our dependence on God and grows our character to be more like Jesus.
AUGUST | PRAYER
Prayer is a conversation with God. We see throughout the examples and teachings of Jesus, the Apostles and the early church that it is God’s will for his people to pray. Prayer is a privilege and an invitation to a deeper relationship with God.
The Bible is full of examples of prayer. Jesus’s disciples see him regularly praying. After one such time, they ask Jesus to teach them to pray too. Jesus responds with what we know as the Lord’s Prayer.
One way for us to grow in prayer is to start simply. Our words don’t need to be eloquent or many. It can be as simple as telling God we desire to grow in prayer. And we can trust that when we come to God wanting to pray, the Holy Spirit will teach and help us (Romans 8:26-27). We will spend the rest of our lives learning and growing in our conversations with God through prayer.
SEPTEMBER | COMMUNITY
Community is the intentional connection among God’s people to grow together in faith and spiritual practices. Throughout Scripture, we see God speak and work through individuals AND groups of his people. When God brings the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, he calls a people to himself, not a group of individuals. Through this community, God desires to show the world what he is like. Later, Jesus calls a group of people (disciples) to himself. Through this group, the good news of Jesus spreads across the world.
Our intentional connection to other believers helps us grow and become more like Christ. Our faith deepens and we model the difference Jesus makes in our lives when we practice spiritual disciplines in community. Jesus urges his followers to gather and seek his will together, promising to be present with them. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). We are not meant to live our faith alone.