Do you believe in spiritual discipline? Not the discipline that the Lord administers to us as a Father, but the practice of godly behaviors? Do you pray and read the Bible because you should- because it's the right thing to do?
Some might argue that our spirituality should be an expression of the passion within us. The "streams of living water" (John 7:38) flowing from within should drive us to do the things that will make us grow in the Lord. Doing the right thing will come automatically from a right heart.
But what if you heart is hurting? What if the stream seems dry? It's at this moment that spiritual discipline comes into play.
At its worst, spiritual discipline is the rote performance of godly activities: prayer recitation, perfunctory Scripture reading. But the Word of God never returns to Him void (Isaiah 55:11), so could this discipline have value? Paul told Timothy to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness. To the spontaneous, this might seem stilted, but, I must say, it works.
Lately, I've been turning to the Word more because it's what I should do, not out of some deep desire to seek solace in it. (If you had presented me with my present situation in hypothetical form, I would have painted a very different picture of my reaction than what I'm actually experiencing now. I suppose you don't know till you've been there.) I'll post more on the Bible reading later, but now I'd like to share something about prayer.
The other day, I had hit an enormous obstacle with wrapping up Bryan's affairs. I couldn't find our will. I had spent hours looking. I had gone through the attic, the filing cabinets, the library. I knew we had one, and I just couldn't find it. I had given up. Then our lawyer told me that I REALLY needed to find it, so one evening, I called all the kids together, and we had a family prayer time, asking that the Lord would lead us to the will.
As soon as I prayed aloud, I realized that for the first time in my life, I had absolutely no expectation that the Lord would answer. It's not that I thought He was incapable of hearing, it's just that I had prayed an awful lot the last few weeks to absolutely no avail. I was pretty sure that He was just going to let me work this one out without His help.
But I prayed anyway, not because my heart told me to, but because my head had been trained from my earliest days that it was the right thing to do. If you face something you can't handle, you pray. If it's something really big, pray with other people. It was, quite simply, a knee jerk reaction to the situation. Need will+can't find it=pray. Pray without ceasing. If you lack wisdom, ask God.
And guess what? I got up the next morning and found the will.
God answered my faithless prayer, and by doing so, He started, in a very small and subtle way, to restore my desire to pray.
beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the
Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me"