In his book The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard says we can only live the life God has called us to through practicing spiritual disciplines. “A baseball player who expects to excel in the game without adequate exercise of his body is no more ridiculous than the Christian who hopes to be able to act in the manner of Christ when put to the test without the appropriate exercise in godly living,” he writes.
All Christians are called to turn away from sin and grow to be more like Christ, where we can point people toward Jesus through our lives. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to reflect Jesus by showing the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).
But how can we do that? How can we, as sinful people, live like Christ?
Though it is ultimately the Holy Spirit that sanctifies us, spiritual disciplines help transform us into more godly people in the same way that athletic training helps transform people into elite athletes. There are a lot of good spiritual disciplines out there, and no list is exhaustive, including this one, but here are eight suggested spiritual disciplines for the Christian in the digital age, along with some Christian tech that can help.
Regularly reading the Word of God is vital to any Christian’s spiritual growth. We get to know God better by reading what He has said to His people and allowing Him to speak to us.
You can use the YouVersion Bible app to read the Bible and go through devotionals regularly, but Bible study takes this one step further. Instead of just reading, in this discipline, you should examine the Scriptures for a deeper understanding. That’s one way to glean insights into your relationship with God and how to apply the Word to your life. The Lectio 365 app is a great resource that guides you through meditative prayer through the Bible using the monastic practice of Lectio Divina. For a more scholarly study, the Blue Letter Bible website offers a searchable online Bible with many resources, such as commentaries, cross-references, interlinear Scripture, encyclopedias, and more.
Blue Letter Bible
Throughout the Bible, one of the ways God’s people connected with Him and grew in their walk with Him was through worship. David danced for the Lord, Paul and Silas sang hymns to God while imprisoned, and the woman at the Pharisee’s house worshipped Jesus by cleaning his feet with her tears and anointing him with perfume — three different ways of practicing this spiritual discipline, but each powerful.
The online church platform of Life.Church offers opportunities to join worship services online with other followers of Jesus. But to be a spiritual discipline, you need to worship God more than once per week. It needs to be a daily practice. Glorify is a daily worship app designed to help you develop daily habits of prayer, guided reflection, reading the Word, and going through devotionals.
Prayer is a vital way we converse with God, worship Him, serve Him, work with Him, understand His will for us, and more. It is also a necessary spiritual discipline. If our prayer life is weak, we won’t bear much spiritual fruit. Through the discipline of a regular, robust prayer life, we will grow into the people God created us to be.
As Christians, we should often break into spontaneous prayers, but having a regular prayer routine is also important. The PrayerMate app helps you build a prayer habit through various prayer lists, reminders, and groups. You can also use MissionHub to pray for the people in your life. The app offers prayer prompts based on the person’s walk with God and your relationship with them, and you can use the app to track how you’ve prayed for each person and how God has responded over time.
Blaise Pascal once wrote, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” When was the last time you sat in silence? True silence, without anyone talking to you, without anything on your screen, without background music?
Jesus often left crowds to be in solitude, where he could pray and connect with God without interruption. Look for opportunities for quiet connection with God. That could mean scheduling “quiet time” each morning or something simple like turning off your music on a drive.
As for tech, for this discipline, take time each day to unplug from everything, including disabling notifications. If it’s difficult to unplug, one of the apps designed to reduce your screen time, such as Lilspace or Freedom, might help.
As followers of Christ, we should steward what God has given us in a way that acknowledges that everything we have comes from Him, and He is ultimately the owner. As a spiritual discipline, that means doing things like tithing with your church and giving to organizations that do God’s work. You can give generously at spontaneous times when opportunities present themselves, but to live generously as a spiritual discipline, you must make generosity a routine part of your life.
Your church probably already uses platforms like Tithe.ly to take donations online and via text. If you haven’t set up automatic recurring payments to give your tithe each week, doing so can help start this spiritual discipline. For giving generously to organizations outside your church, you can use Charity Navigator or Givelify to find causes to support that matter to you.
God is the creator of many things that bring us joy, from beautiful music to majestic waterfalls to the people we love. And it is through a life with Him that we find our ultimate joy. That’s certainly something worth celebrating, right?
Willard writes, “We engage in celebration when we enjoy ourselves, our life, our world, in conjunction with our faith and confidence in God’s greatness, beauty, and goodness. We concentrate on our life and world as God’s work and as God’s gift to us.”
As a spiritual discipline, you should gather regularly with other followers of Jesus — your friends, family, disciples, or small group — to celebrate what God’s doing in your life. You can use PrayerMate to keep track of God’s answered prayers and the yesHEis app to record video testimonials.
God created us to live in fellowship with other followers of Jesus, and that fellowship will help us grow. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” writes King Solomon in Proverbs 27:17.
The easiest way to turn fellowship into a spiritual discipline is to join a small group that meets regularly to share life while studying the Bible and worshipping God. Generally, these groups meet once per week, which leaves 86% of your week without those meetings. To fill in the gaps, use your social media platform of choice to stay connected throughout the week. It doesn’t matter if you use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or an SMS group, but as a discipline, keep in regular communication and ensure the conversations go deeper than sharing memes and selfies.
You can also participate in an Alpha course with a small group or a few of your friends. The courses provide guided discussions with videos that everyone watches together. Each course lasts eleven weeks and is offered online or in person.
With the spiritual discipline of service, we use our time, treasure, and talent to positively impact the world. In serving others, this spiritual discipline helps us sharpen our character by denying ourselves, practicing Jesus’ command to love our neighbors, and training ourselves away from sins like arrogance and covetousness.
As for Christian tech can help with this, the MissionHub app helps you track the people in your life who need help and suggest steps you can take with them. Online mentors with The Mentor Ministry can help people by walking with them on their spiritual journeys and helping them through their struggles. Many church websites also post service opportunities, which can be excellent sources for ongoing service. For service to be a spiritual discipline, it should be a regular routine.
If you’ve never tried any spiritual disciplines, we encourage you to start. If jumping into all ten of these seems like too much, start with a couple of them, develop a routine, and then add another discipline. In living a more disciplined life, you should draw closer to God and notice Him molding your heart to be more like His.
The Mentor Ministry
The Mentor Ministry
Have you ever tried any spiritual disciplines? If not, try incorporating some of these into your life.