Every verse of them that thou recitest, expound their texts minutely; speak in thine own character exactly, and fix on them thine understanding; then thou shalt receive [thy request] from the King of the stars, whose protection is never-ending.
- Anonymous, Life of Colman Ela (Irish, 17th cent., from an earlier ms.)
"To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little."
- Isaiah 28.9, 10
Colman's instruction to his monk relates to several spiritual disciplines, here all fused together into one exercise. In the context the monk is praying the daily hours, which means he has a psalm on his lips, which he is reciting - perhaps singing - aloud, and which, at the end, he will render from Latin into Gaelic.
But he is also meditating - fixing his understanding on the psalm - and reflecting, by expounding the psalm as he recites/sings it and speaks it back to the Lord in his own words.
Finally, he is turning all this into a prayer, seeking the help of his King and Savior for whatever may have been on his mind.
This is a good way to think about spiritual disciplines, not as isolated activities that we check off a list, but as exercises in bringing together, in the act of seeking the Lord, a combination of disciplines, based on the Word and processed through our own minds and concerns into meditation and worshipful prayer.
Spiritual disciplines have fallen on hard times with many believers these days, including pastors. Either we don't understand the value of these ancient and Biblical practices, or we're just too distracted or shallow - or both - to want to give much time or effort to them.
But it is in these arenas, where we have the opportunity for meeting God in His glory, that our pursuit of Jesus brings us into real and close contact with our risen and reigning King. From such encounters comes the power that transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ and refracts the glory of God to the world around us.
How is it with your spiritual disciplines? This might be a good time to talk with the Lord about how to improve your own pursuit of His glory.
Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe
Maybe it's a problem of time management that keeps you from having a more disciplined life. If so, then our January free download, "To Number Our Days," might be of help.
Our course, "The Writing Pastor," begins in just two weeks. Now is the time to sign up for this six-month webinar to help you make writing a more integral part of your own ministry for the Lord.
If you'd like some help in learning to pray and sing the psalms, visit our bookstore and order a copy of The Ailbe Psalter or Voices Together, two valuable resources than can give your spiritual life a lasting boost.
Finally, our mentoring course, "The Road to Maturity: Practicing the Kingship of Jesus," is all about setting up a workable program of spiritual and ministry disciplines that can help you to know ongoing revival in your walk with the Lord. Why not consider signing up with one of our Mentors today?