While the Bible teaches the importance of these disciplines (or means of grace), the Bible does not outline a specific program for all believers. That is, no where in the Bible are we commanded to spend 30 minutes a day in our quiet times or personal devotions. Therefore, it seems there is some flexibility in how believers put these disciplines into practice. Doing this requires intentionality. Passivity will not do.
Because the spiritual disciplines are necessary and yet no particular "system" or method is prescribed in Scripture, at Village Seven, we encourage our staff and officers to develop their own “Spiritual Renewal Plans”, or SRP. What follows are some suggestions on how you might develop your own Spiritual Renewal Plan
What Your Plan Should IncludeSpiritual Disciplines
While the Bible does not outline a program for us, the Bible is clear that there are certain “means of grace” that should be a regular part of every Christian’s life. These include:· Corporate Worship (church)
· Bible reading/study/preaching
· The Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper)
In addition to these, there are other disciplines that the Bible tells us are helpful to our spiritual growth. These include: serving, fasting, giving, evangelism, meditation, singing, solitude, etc… Your SRP should include these activities. You might also think about the things that you do or have done that you have found to be spiritually refreshing. It could be that reading certain books or attending a particular conference, or even listening to certain music stirs your soul. Include these things in your spiritual plan as well.
Constructing the PlanBe Realistic
As you develop your SRP, I encourage you to be both challenging and realistic. If you haven’t been reading your Bible at all, then it is unrealistic to set a goal of reading it for one hour every day. Try 10 minutes of Bible reading and 5 minutes of prayer. Set small goals that you can achieve
While you do not want to set unrealistic goals, you also do not want to settle for mediocrity. The spiritual disciplines need to become a regular part of your daily life.
Do some things daily, some things weekly, some things monthly, quarterly or yearly. There are some wonderful spiritual disciplines that you cannot do every day or even every week (like fasting or solitude), but if you do not put them in your plan, then you will never do them. Also, you may not want to do the same thing everyday. For example, you might decide to read the Bible for 15 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and listen to a sermon or message in the car on the way to work on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Don’t Let Failure Stop You
If you set a goal to read your Bible everyday and then go a week without reading it, it is easy to get discouraged. Don’t. Just keep at it. Just because you fail for a time, that doesn’t mean you have to quit or that you are a failure. Just start again. You are going to mess up some, maybe even a lot, but, if you keep after it, you will begin to see solid, steady spiritual growth. At any time that you discover that your plan is not working, then simply take to time to revise it and make it a more realistic plan that you will actually do.Build It Into Your Calendar
Once you have decided what you are going to do, enter it into your calendar. If you do not put it into your calendar, you probably won’t do it. This is particularly important for things that you do not do every day or every week.If you are planning a weekend away with your wife, even if it is not for another 6 months, put it on your calendar. If a conflict comes up, you can move it, but you cannot delete it. Putting it on your calendar forces you to think about it and increases your chances of following through. So, everything in your plan must be entered into your calendar.
Don't Measure Your Spirituality by Your Success/Failure at Your SRP
Practicing the spiritual disciplines is not a means by which you earn God's favor or blessing. It is a means by which you meditate on the fact that, if you are in Christ, you already have God's favor. We are prone to forget the gospel. The Spiritual Disciplines are a way of reminding ourselves of the truth of the gospel. Also, the spiritual disciplines are a means by which we abide in Christ and abide in His love. Be careful not to reverse this. We do not practice the disciplines to earn God's love. We practice the disciplines in order to walk in His love.
Constructing Your Plan
Below is a sampling of things you might include in your plan. Of course, there are many other ideas, but these are a few that can help you think about what you might do.
Daily· Read the Bible for 10 minutes
· Pray for 10 minutes
· Listen to an MP3 of a sermon while exercising
· Pray with my wife every night
· Read a devotional (there are many good ones available today)
· Read 1 chapter of the Bible
· Read or sing a hymn or inspirational song
· Read a Bible story and pray with the kids
Weekly· Family Devotions twice a week
· Attend church
· Prepare for and Participate in Small Group Bible Study
· 1 hour of in-depth Bible study
· Meet with men’s group or friend for accountability
· Work out three times a week and listen to spiritually edifying sermons, lectures, or music
· Listen to sermon MP3’s twice a week in car on the way to work
· Journal twice a week
· Try to have one spiritual significant conversation with an unbeliever each week
· Pray for the pastors each week
Monthly or Quarterly· Read one spiritual refreshing book
· Spend half day alone in prayer
· Meet with a friend for real accountability once a month
Annually· Spend one day in prayer and fasting
· Attend a retreat or conference
· Read two spiritually refreshing books
· Take one day alone for a personal spiritual retreat
Below is sample of what your Spiritual Renewal Plan might look like. Again, this is just a suggestion. Create yours so that it helps you grow in grace.
I will commit to reading my Bible at least five times a week.
I will seek to have family devotions at least five times a week.
I will actively participate in worship every Lord’s Day
I will attend Community or a small group
I will go on some sort of spiritual retreat this year
Go on a mission trip