by Jennifer A. Miskov, Ph.D.
“The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” -Richard Foster
God wants to free people from fear. He wants to raise up His bride to embrace all He has in this new season. One of the ways He wants to equip people to step into all that He has is to bring a resurgence of what has been overlooked, forgotten, abused, broken, misunderstood, or misappropriated. God is raising up an army of lovers who will go anywhere and do anything for him. When I hear people say that they want to be like Heidi Baker, John Wesley, Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake, Carrie Judd Montgomery, Rees Howells, Saint Francis of Assisi, or even Jesus, I encourage them to follow in their footsteps and embrace the things they embraced. These all practiced spiritual disciplines. They all lived with their lamps full of oil. They all regularly positioned themselves to step into all that God has by integrating the spiritual disciplines into their daily lives. If we want to walk in same authority, dominion, power, love, intimacy as these, a good start is to discover and tap into similar wells where they found life.
Purpose of Spiritual Disciplines
Spiritual disciplines are for the purpose of knowing God. We practice spiritual disciplines so that we can live deep within the heart of God. We commit to walk the path of spiritual disciplines so that we can choose God first and feast upon Him. I regularly go to the lake and spend time waiting on God, being with Him, reading His Word, playing with Him, or simply resting in Him. I long to be with Him alone. No one else and nothing else can ever satisfy. Choosing to embrace the disciplines will help position us to be with the One we love. Contending for space with the living God for the sole purpose of communing with Him is invaluable.
Richard Foster says in his Celebration of Discipline that “The purpose of the Disciplines is liberation from the stifling slavery to self-interest and fear. When the inner spirit is liberated from all that weighs it down, it can hardly be described as dull drudgery. Singing, dancing, even shouting characterize the Disciplines of the spiritual life!”*Spiritual disciplines, including prayer, meditation, fasting, reading the Word, worship, and community help us to align our lives more with heaven. The disciplines are an invitation to explore the hidden crevices of the Father’s heart. This world is crying out for deep people who can live from a place of interwoveness with the Creator. Foster says that “The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living into the depths.”* There is so much more of the Father’s heart to explore and the disciplines simply help take us on that journey.
Everyone connects with God differently according to their personality and how they are wired. Some people connect with God in nature or in silence while others connect with Him during activity or through music or dance. Practicing the disciplines helps everyone, regardless of how they are wired, tap into a greater measure of the heart of God.
The Spiritual Disciplines
- Deepen our connection with God
- Bring us into greater union with God
- Invite us to feast upon God
- Position us to hear God’s voice
- Align us to receive God’s blessings
- Prepare us to step into the kingdom
- Keep our lamps full of oil
Spiritual Disciplines Release Freedom
The Spiritual disciplines are intended to bring freedom and liberation. The motivation should always be a longing to know God more (Psalm 42:1-2). The disciplines bring focus, self-control, and pave the way to walk on the highway of holiness. It is the pure in heart that see God. The disciplines also can act as a purifying fire. While there is always the danger of the disciplines degenerating into law and empty ritualistic practice, fear of this happening should not be greater than the drive to take hold of the King of kings by positioning ourselves in front of His throne. The disciplines help us do just that.
Some people confuse the disciplines with striving or trying to manipulate or control God when in reality that could not be farther from the truth. While only God can grow us spiritually, there are things we can do to prepare and cultivate our lives to invite this. One helpful example of explaining spiritual disciplines is likening it to farming. A farmer can’t make the seeds grow. However, he can plant the seeds, cultivate the ground, water the crops and create an environment that invites this growth. When the sun shines and the rain comes, saturating what he has cultivated, life springs forth (Galatians 5:22-25). The same is true for us. We all have seeds of destiny deposited in our hearts. As we cultivate and tend to our hearts by practicing the disciplines and thus positioning ourselves under the waterfall of God’s grace, when the outpouring comes, we are ready to receive. The floods will cause our dreams to spring forth (Isaiah 61:11).
Another benefit of the disciplines can be likened to training for sports. Athletes don’t win gold medals by sitting at home and watching television. They train their bodies for the big race. Similarly, spiritual disciplines can also act as spiritual training for us to be ready to advance the kingdom of God. Because we have been building our spiritual muscles and regularly filling our lamps with oil, we will be ready to set the oppressed free, tear down demonic strongholds, release healing, and love the broken when the need arises.
Freedom to Soar in His Presence
If you have been under an oppressive system of law rather than love and grace or have run from the spiritual disciplines because you have been wounded by their inappropriate and legalistic implementation, today is your day to be set free. I invite you to no longer react out of fear. God wants time with you. It takes discipline to set aside and guard time for Him alone. You will have to fight a million battles to protect your time with God. Discipline will help you win those battles. Discipline is not intended to imprison you but instead to bind you to Christ Himself. Motivated through your relationship with Christ and by following the leading of the Spirit, may God use the spiritual disciplines to free you to fully explore and dive even deeper into the heart of God. I release you from fear in Jesus’ name. I release grace to forgive those who have hurt you through legalism. I impart courage to dive into a new world of forsaking all other lovers. Today, I invite you to be compelled to set everything aside for the sole purpose of beholding Jesus.
“Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”
*All Richard Foster quotes come from Celebration of Discipline (New York, NY: HarperOne, 1978, reprint 1998), 1-2.