ESTABLISHING SPIRITUAL RHYTHMS

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As followers of Jesus, we celebrate the redemption of our positional standing with God because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. The gospel reminds us, in verses like Ephesians 2:8-9, that Jesus rescued us, and we are saved by Him when we believe that it is so. However, when we speak about eternal life or the reality of heaven, we usually only do so regarding the “later on.” Jesus, in John 17:3, speaks about eternity differently. “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” The word know used here is in the present tense. This truth matters for our lives now. Our souls have a deep longing to experience a depth of connection with God while here on earth. The message of Jesus and the writers of the New Testament continually refer to the significance of praying for and living in hopeful expectation of life “on earth as it is in heaven.”

God designed us to be fulfilled by Him, alone. He created us to be in communion with Himself forever. The question many of us have is, “how can we experience this?” Sadly, I’ve spent far too much time thinking that I needed to work to earn a deeper connection with God. I need to remember that I cannot manufacture this type of relationship. In light of this, we need to learn to posture ourselves to receive what God has and intends for us. One way we cease our striving and straining in hopes to be more connected to Christ is to establish spiritual rhythms or disciplines in our lives.

The view of many that I’ve talked with about this is that the spiritual rhythms are optional, or more akin to “extra credit” for the Christian. However, the rhythms or disciplines are a gift from God as a pathway to the communion we desire to have with Him here on earth. Our hope doesn’t lie in the act, or, rhythm alone, but in the God that we seek to connect with through them. Richard Foster once wrote, “By themselves, the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done.” Establishing healthy spiritual rhythms can help us to gain perspective and hopefulness in our lives.

An excerpt from Soul Rest (p. 181-182)

When we establish a sustainable practice in our rhythms, we will experience the benefit of a proper and accurate view of ourselves. The rhythms humble us as we attempt to engage with them. When we participate in spiritual practices, we realize the need for the sustenance and direction that comes from the Spirit. In our strength, we are unable to accomplish the desired outcomes that accompany the rhythms, but by His power, we can grow in intimacy with Him. As we lean in, we can get better and better in any area in which we subject ourselves to practice and preparation.

Practicing the rhythms will also be a catalyst for inner work. They cause us to go inward to examine our hearts, down to the root of who we are. I think most of us want to engage with the truths of the Bible and live a life filled with goodness and peace. Many of us, though, are hesitant to commit ourselves to the inner work that it requires for this to come from a real and genuine place.

Even as we are hopeful for the Spirit to do something supernatural to help refresh, restore, and guide our steps, we need to do all we can to make ourselves available to this occurrence. There are various disciplines and rhythms that we see represented for us in scripture, such as prayer, meditation, study, fasting, and contemplation, and there is much to be said about each. It is vitally important that we become intentional about our engagement with the rhythms, seek and expect a substantial encounter with God in them, and determine sustainable ways to incorporate them into our lives.

Click here for a devo to assist you in starting to practice spiritual rhythms.