A fire built of ferns soon dies out. Do not be like flotsam, going with every current, if you wish to persevere in devotion.
- Comghall, Rule (Irish, 6th century)
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in the upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
- Daniel 6.10
In the life of spiritual disciplines, consistency is the key. It's important to be daily at our disciplines - reading, meditating, praying - and even to spread them out through the day ("...give yourself to prayer at intervals, as you would to food." Comghall). It's fine to go on an occasional retreat or to get pumped up over a sermon or at a conference. But the key to increasing your vision of the unseen realm and bringing your daily practices into line with that vision is the slow burn - as Gene Peterson put it so well, "A long obedience in the same direction."
Now that daily, consistent, fruitful life of spiritual disciplines is not going to just happen. You'll need to work at it, and working at it suggests a plan (Ps. 90.12, 16, 17). Daniel's plan included three periods of prayer every day. We also know that he seems to have made regular time for reading and meditating in God's Word (Dan. 9.1, 2). He may have included other disciplines on a regular basis as well, but we just don't know.
Comghall's "rule" for his monks was designed to help them take their time and lives captive so that they would obey Christ in all things. Having a plan for spiritual growth - a Personal Rule - can help you to light a slow burn under your spiritual life that will provide heat and light for your journey with the Lord.
Begin by assessing the state of your spiritual life right now. You can use our Personal Discipleship Inventory to help you determine where your needs are the greatest at this time. Next, you should make sure you know what the Lord has called you to in His Kingdom, what is your Personal Mission Field, and who are the people to whom you've been sent. That will help further in determining areas of needed growth. Finally, by developing a Personal Rule of Spiritual Disciplines you will be able to set up a plan for specific growth, using specific disciplines designed to meet your growth and ministry needs.
If you'll write to me and mention the "spiritual growth packet," I'll send you all three of these instruments to help you get that fire burning under your soul with a little more heat and a lot more consistency. Or, if you sign up for the course, Spiritual Maturity 1: Revival, we'll show you how to use these tools in a broader light and with a larger vision of the unseen world and our mission as its ambassadors.
We are commanded to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3.18). Spiritual growth doesn't just happen. And it happens best when it is properly focused, adequately fueled, and dutifully followed, each and every day of our lives.
The world needs truly spiritual people, now more than ever. The people in your Personal Mission Field need you to be the light of the world to them. But if the light in your lighthouse is dim or sporadic, no one's going to be helped much. What they need is that steady and true spiritual glow, which comes from the slow burn sustained by faithful spiritual disciplines.
And what's more, if you take up this life and practice it consistently, you'll discover just how real, how powerful, and how utterly life-changing your walk with Jesus Christ can be.
T. M. Moore, Principal