A GAME OF SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE
Most of us would like to deepen our spiritual lives but are not sure exactly where to start. Yes, we think we could pray more often and spend more time with Scripture, but what other steps might we take. What if we could play a game of spiritual discipline and see what would evolve. I suggest it as a game because I want to liberate your imagination and escape feeling guilty if some of the steps we take don’t produce great results. If we are saved by grace and not by works, then being willing to play the game has its own value.
Until you actually experience making the effort, this may seem too simplistic but I urge you to give it a try.
HERE IS THE FRAMEWORK
Paul, in Galatians 5: 22ff makes a list of some of the fruits of the spirit.What I’m suggesting is that you take each of the fruits one at a time and try to do two things. First, imagine two or three ways that you might exhibit that fruit in your daily life. Consider how that fruit might be lived in several different types of relationships — family, colleagues, church members, community, the larger church, etc.
For example if the particular fruit was patience. Where are two or three areas that currently challenge your patience. How does your child challenge you? What about an area of church life? Do some of the actions of your session, presbytery, or the larger church evoke feelings of anger or discomfort.
Choose at least a couple of those areas and intentionally consider specific actions you could take that a really patient person might take. Think about the situation that might give you the opportunity within the next month. Plan to take that step and to evaluate how it makes you feel.
Consider identifying at least two fruits each week and perhaps in different sets of relationships, and plan to experience engaging in those acts that exhibit those fruits.
Remember, Paul offers quite a list from which to choose. Some of them are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
KEEP A DIARY
Not every intention will work out and some may even cause discomfort. It will be very helpful if you will take a small notebook with you and record what you did, how you felt, and what results you witnessed.
At the end of each week, take some time to engage in prayer about what you are experiencing and ask where is the Spirit in all of this.
A further step you may want to explore is to take the fruits of the flesh, identify one of the fruits with which you struggle, and choose one or two steps you might take to resist its effects in your life.