How much space did you make for God in your life in 2014? How much time did you spend practicing one of the spiritual disciplines like prayer, reading your Bible, serving God, worship God, or solitude and reflection on God? How much time did you spend celebrating God in your life?
Richard Foster writes in his book Celebration of Discipline that “joy is the keynote of all the disciplines.” He says, “The purpose of spiritual disciplines is to liberate us from the stifling slavery to self and fear. And the primary requirement of spiritual disciplines is a longing for God.” The psalmist writes, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God” (Psalm 42:1). Do you have a longing for God in your life…a longing so deep that it causes you to want to make space for Him in your life in greater ways than you have before? I do!
You see, for me, and I imagine the same is true for many of you; 2014 was a very busy year. For most of the year I served as an interim pastor. In addition to that I was a stay at home dad, a husband, a friend, and a coffee drinker. The point is that I was so busy that I wasn’t making space for God. You might ask, if you were preaching every week, then weren’t you spending time with God. The answer is yes and no. I was preparing sermons, but I wasn’t making space for God. I wasn’t consistently practicing a discipline for my own spiritual transformation. The result was increased irritability in my life, lack of patience, and lack of quality time with my family and God. I wasn’t the husband I needed to be, the father I needed to be or the man of God I needed to be. By the grace of God, I came to realize what was happening and have made changes in my life that that will help me once again make space for God and begin the practice of spiritual disciplines in my life.
Spiritual disciplines aren’t unpleasant, they aren’t a measure of spirituality, and they aren’t a way for you to earn favor with God. Spiritual disciplines are not a way to make you feel guilty about not spending time with God. Rather, they are an activity that helps you to live life as Jesus taught and modeled. Spiritual disciplines are a way for us to makes space for God in our lives and they serve as a catalyst for spiritual transformation and conforming us to Christ likeness.
So if joy is the keynote of all spiritual disciplines and the result of them is to conform us to Christ-likeness, where do you need to make space for God in your life? What distractions do you have in your life that you need to address to allow you time to practice a spiritual discipline? Less TV? Less work? Anger towards God for something? Depression?
This week, think about those distractions that are keeping you from making space for God and start 2015 by implementing the practice of at least one spiritual discipline in your life.