Many of us focus on being disciplined and in shape physically, but what about our spiritual disciplines? How much thought and effort do we put into being disciplined in spiritual things? Consider the words by apostle Paul:
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight, not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should not become disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).”
Now consider the following true story:
“Why oh why did I ever want to run this race?” I muttered to myself as I reached the fuel station at the 13-mile mark in the Albany marathon. I was sick, light-headed, drained, and people all around me were beginning to fall behind. The thing that kept me going was the thought of the “prize” – my family waiting for me at the finish line, not to mention my long time goal of running a marathon. Keeping my eye on the prize is what motivated me to complete the race. The physical discipline I exercised in order to finish a marathon had value. My health improved because of it, but compared to the importance of running the spiritual race God has set before us, finishing a marathon is of very little value.
Both physical and spiritual exercise make you feel better, but no matter how much you enjoy the exercise, there are going to be some days you just don’t feel like doing it. What should you do when that happens? Do it anyway! Of course, there are times when you will have issues that may make it difficult for you to do your normal spiritual routine. You may be sick, or may have company, or may be traveling or perhaps you overslept. One thing I’ve found helpful is to have a “minimum daily requirement” that I can do on even the hardest days. For me, that running to praise and worship and have devotion time when everyone has left the house. Even if I’m not feeling well, I can read my devotion.
What about you? Do you have a daily routine for staying in the Word of God and prayer? If not, start one! Set a minimum goal that you know you can do no matter what. It may be listening to the bible on your iPod, or it may be reading a devotional, or a few verses of Scripture. Pick something you enjoy, and do it daily, even when you don’t feel like it. On days when there is more time, add in additional spiritual disciplines such as Bible study and more extended time in prayer and journaling. Nothing else we do in life matters as much as running the race the Lord has set before us because nothing else lasts for eternity.
Ask God to help you run the race set before you with diligence. If you lean on Him, He’ll give you the strength you need to be disciplined spiritually, and help you run the race successfully.