We have limited ourselves to 12 spiritual disciplines as a focus for the year. Each month we will present opportunities and challenges to engage in the theme of the month. Before we look at the January challenge, let’s get an overview of the 12.

Dallas Willard, in The Spirit of the Disciplines, and Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, have compiled a list of spiritual disciplines and practices they believe were modeled in the life of Christ. These disciplines are typically organized into two categories: the disciplines of abstinence (or “letting go”) and the disciplines of activity.[1]

We will use Nathan Foster’s list of 12 as our focus when viewed through these 2 categories. It would be a good idea to buy a notebook or journal on your phone or computer as we go through the year.

Activity (Taking Hold)

Abstinence (Letting Go)

January – worship

February – prayer

March - fasting
April – submission

May – confession

June – guidance

July – simplicity

August – meditation
September – study

October – service

November – solitude
December – celebration

Our January theme is ‘worship’. For a congregational challenge we are suggesting that you pick one or more of the following options

  1. Set aside one time per week for private worship
  2. Attend another style of church and appreciate their way of worshipping
  3. Come to ‘The Living Room’ Jan 31 @9 pm

When we ‘do’ spiritual practices that focus on activity, we engage in the activities as a means of following and responding to Jesus. When we practice disciplines of abstinence, we are learning to let go of the ‘other gods’ that demand our worship (food, materialism, independence, etc.) In learning to let go, we grasp those things that are eternal and lasting.

1 Peter 2:
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 

All of these spiritual disciplines were practiced by Jesus and encouraged among his disciples. They had their own rhythms and patterns, sometimes together and sometimes alone. They did not follow the example of Scribes and Pharisees, but that of Jesus. Disciples not only experience intimacy with their leader, but also the mysteries and tension points of being a follower.

Though we will study and practice these disciplines formally, we will find that the practice of one easily overlaps with others. We will have prescribed times set aside but the disciplines have a way of shaping the day-to-day moments of life. Paul described a life of praying without ceasing, where movement in the Spirit is as fluid as natural movement.

We move in and out, around and through this life in God. We become cognizant of the ebb and flow of relationship, waking and sleeping, eating, working and recreational time.

[1] Bill Donahue, Leading Life-Changing Small Groups, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1996), pp. 51-52