Spiritual discipline. It's a term that stirs a mixture of feelings for me. I want to be spiritual. But discipline suggests work. And while I consider myself a fairly disciplined person, I find spiritual disciplines very difficult at times. Scripture reading. Prayer. Fasting. None of them are easy, nor do any of them become habit-forming. They demand a daily, determined effort.
I am encouraged, however, as I read from great people in history -- people we would consider to be spiritual giants. What encourages me is that these disciplines didn't come easily for them, either. They continually struggled with them -- for their whole lives.
Listen to what Philip Yancey writes about these "spiritual athletes." He says "they acted voluntarily, and few looked back on their experiences with much regret. We live in a society that cannot comprehend those who fast or carve out two hours for a quiet time, and yet honors professional football players who work out with weights five hours a day and undergo a dozen knee and shoulder surgeries to repair the damage they inflict on themselves in the sport."
I want to be spiritually "in shape." The reality is that it takes a workout regimen every bit as grueling as keeping my body in shape. Yet, it obviously pays more lasting benefits. So, I'm determined to keep after it!