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Inward Disciplines

Meditation, Prayer, Fasting, Study

Do you find yourself constantly rushing; constantly in a hurry to fulfill the next important item on your priority list?  On any given day, it is not difficult to see someone texting while crossing a busy street or even while driving!  We have so many things vying for our attention.  Being able to slow down and focus on our relationship with the Lord is something that, unfortunately, is often left at the bottom of our priorities. However, as our lungs need oxygen, so our spirits need communion with God.  In order to flourish in our spiritual lives, Richard Foster charges us to cultivate four practices he calls “inward disciplines”.

Meditation. According to Foster, “Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word” (p.17).  The Words of the Creator give life to a believer and have the power to calm even the most tempestuous storm in a believer’s life. God’s Word speaks of the blessed man declaring, “…his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” Psalms 1:2. 

How does one meditate?  Foster provides some practical guidelines: set aside an established time daily, set aside a place that is free of interruption, and meditate in a posture that allows you to be comfortable.  You can kneel, walk, prostrate yourself or stand. Spend your time focusing on the Lord.  You can read His Word, but don’t rush through it; imagine the Scripture coming to life, think about it over and over until it takes root in your heart.  

Prayer. “In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after him: to desire the things he desires, to love the things he loves, to will the things he wills” (p. 33).  Prayer is a powerful communion with God that transforms us.  During prayer we remind God of His promises to us and remind our troubles of the greatness of our God.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 charges us to “pray without ceasing”. Great men and women of God who turned the world “upside down” so to speak prioritized their prayer lives; some tithed ten percent of the day to spend in prayer.  Wherever you may be in your prayer life – whether you are just starting or are a veteran, realize that the Holy Spirit is available to help you. 

Fasting an act of denying the flesh, is the third discipline. Jesus says to His disciples, “When you fast” (Matthew 6:16) implying that Jesus’ disciples ought to fast.  Fasting clears our spiritual vision when it becomes cloudy.  Many people have experienced breakthroughs or clarity after a time of fasting and prayer. 

Study. Foster challenges believers to incorporate four steps in study: repetition, habits of thought can be formed by repetition; concentration, which centers the mind; comprehension, understanding what we are studying; and reflection, which defines the significance of what we are saying (p. 66).  The mind is a powerful tool.  Use it to rehearse, analyze and contemplate the Word of God. You can also study books written by biblically sound authors. 

Cultivating the inward disciplines will inevitably require sacrifice on your part, but the blessing will far outweigh the cost. The first step in a new habit is usually the hardest. We encourage you today; take the first step in developing these inward disciplines by asking God to help you. Set aside a time that you will spend daily in meditation, prayer, and study. You may want to set a fast to heighten your spiritual sensitivity as you pray. Write down your goals as a means to holding yourself accountable, and find an accountability partner to encourage you.  We are cheering you on!

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