We all have various seasons in our lives. Whether it be raising young children, a new job, new responsibilities at work, sickness, periods of fatigue, and many more. There are times in our lives that we feel distant from the grace of God. By no means is it God distancing Himself from us, but us taking our eyes off of Him, and the joy and contentment that can only flow from Him.
There are times in our lives that we feel distant from the grace of God.
By no means is it God distancing Himself from us, but us taking our eyes off of Him, and the joy and contentment that can only flow from Him.
So it has been for me. I have felt distant from God over the last month, due to my lack of intentional communion and discipline. I haven’t prioritized my morning scripture reading and prayer. It had become apparent to me, that something needed to change. Then by God’s grace, a book arrived in the mail by David Mathis of Desiring God. Through this book: Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines, my soul has been invigorated to seek the beauty and glory of God.
This book has been a great encouragement in my current season. Though most of the suggestions are practical for a new believer, they still have a great way of renewing the vigor of an established believer. The book has written with brevity in mind. It is designed to stoke your desire to go further in your understanding and personal sanctification in larger works covering these subjects.
Mathis breaks the disciplines down into three categories:
- Hear His Voice (Scripture)
- Have His Ear (Prayer)
- And Belong to His Body (Fellowship).
He explains that the organization of the book is intended to “help Christians young and old simplify their various personal habits of grace, or spiritual disciplines”. His bases for topic on spiritual disciplines, is to show how they can be a conduit to God’s grace. And as we see grace abounding in our lives, we would be more joyful in our relationship with Jesus. Ultimately bringing more glory to God.
The first category covers Scripture reading, study, meditation on Scripture, and memorization of Scripture.
While this sounds rather elementary; he provides helpful instruction on how to read for breadth and depth in Holy Scriptures. He provides a simple illustration of raking (reading large sections) versus digging or shoveling (meditation, prayer, bible study). While both are helpful at various times, we should be cognizant or what are current sanctification needs are. What will draw us closer to our Father, today?
The second category covers prayer (both individual and corporate), fasting, and journaling.
I truly enjoyed all of these subsections. He provided great, biblical information for the different types of prayer that we should be exercising, and the related benefits. My favorite section was on journaling. I have always struggled to slow down and think deeper about certain texts. Mathis shows how journaling, whether written or typed, can be an extension of meditation. Slow down and put your thoughts on paper or screen. Don’t write as though someone will be reading these and talking about what you did or didn’t do in your life. Be honest with your thoughts.
The third category covers fellowship, corporate worship, listening to preaching, baptism, the Lord’s supper, and listening to rebuke.
While this seems like a lot of topics for one section, it is designed to show us how they all relate. How we can experience the most joy, now, when we are actively practicing the topics above. We must remember that these are not topics that are a part of a check list, but that they are the best way to experience the strengthening power of God, through the tools he has given us.
There is a separate section at the end that covers missions and evangelism, managing our money, and managing our time.
In my current season, the section on time was and is very beneficial. I sometimes struggle with figuring out how I am going to get all of my work complete on-time. Yet, I am not consulting with my Father in heaven who is in control of the clock. Mathis states that one of the key principles of our time management is: Let love for others be the driver of your disciplined, intentional planning. It is the love for others that fulfills God’s law (Romans 13:8, 10). If we focus on the important work of our lives, God is sure to provide us sufficient time for the rest.
In closing, I would highly recommend this book.
If we are honest, we will admit that we are not perfect in seeking, hearing, and communing with God. This book provides a fresh look into the importance of spiritual disciplines. If we will commit ourselves to faithfully seeking out our Father, we can be assured that He will provide us with the spiritual growth that leads to our joy and His glory.