Spiritual Disciplines for Spiritual Growth

Hebrews 5:12-14 For when for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the Word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

With today’s emphasis on health many people are involved in some type of physical discipline such as walking, running, and aerobic exercises. Such disciplines are excellent for keeping one’s body in good physical condition. The same is true spiritually. If we want to grow in the Lord and become spiritually healthy, we need to discipline ourselves with spiritual exercises. Listed below are some disciplines that are most necessary for spiritual development. Practice these exercises until they become second nature, and you will find yourself breaking through into new realms in God.


We must learn to worship with a focus on the Lord from our inner being. Worship is work. The greater the intensity of your worship, the more effective you will be. As you worship appropriate the presence of the Lord; draw Him into your spirit. Then minister to Him. You draw in the Lord, and then minister to Him what you have received. We love Him, because He first loved us. I John 4:19. As you continue the cycle, the anointing will steadily increase. After a while you’ll feel you just can’t take any more. At first our capacity for the Lord is not very great, but with repeated worship exercises your capacity for Him will enlarge. This is how you will train your spirit to worship continually. You can come to the place where anytime you tune-in to your spirit, it will be worshiping the Lord.

Many Christians are not accustomed to worshiping from their inner being (their spirit), or maintaining a focus upon the Lord. So it will be work. As soon as you set the focus of your heart upon the Lord your mind will become very active. It will remind you of all the little things that need to be done that you haven’t done. You will be tempted to go and do them, getting them out of the way so you can worship. Don’t fall for that! Let Martha be troubled about the many things and you become the Mary that has chosen the good part. There is one thing needful, a focus on the Lord (Luke 10:38-42). The carnal mind is an enemy of God (Romans 8:7); maintain your focus on the Lord until it can no longer influence you.

Practice His Presence

Another valuable exercise is practicing the presence of the Lord. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in, be aware that the presence of the Lord is with you. Even though Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always,” many Christians only think of Him as being up in the heavens somewhere. Paul said that we have been positioned in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6). So never let your carnal mind separate you from the presence of the Lord. He is not just with us when we feel spiritual. Emotional feelings will lie to you in the same way as your mind. You can’t rely on good or bad feelings. Feelings are on the soul level, and God is Spirit. So practice His presence until you are able to detect His presence with your spirit. Your faith will fluctuate as long as you rely on your feelings. Your faith will not be constant until you have learned to detect the Lord's presence with your spirit.

Practice Listening

Learn the voice of the Lord. God is always speaking, but we are not always hearing. Your spirit has ears (not literal, of course), but it will not be able to hear until it has been trained. …by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern… Hebrews 5:14. Regardless of the situation you are in, listen for the voice of the Lord. He can speak through people or circumstances.

The easiest way to learn the voice of the Lord is to find a quiet place, focus your spirit on the Lord and listen intently. This is what we call waiting on the Lord. At first, you won’t think you are hearing anything. You will get up after an hour or two and think you haven’t received anything at all. But keep working at it. Initially there is quite a gap between your spirit and your conscious mind. When God speaks to you He speaks to your spirit, but you won’t be aware of what He has said until it reaches your conscious mind. Haven’t you noticed that sometimes when you are doing some of your normal duties – shaving, washing dishes, etc. – that suddenly you receive revelation or an answer you’ve been looking for from the Lord? Well, He may have spoken it to you weeks before, but it took that long to reach your conscious mind. The more you practice listening, training your spirit to hear, the shorter the gap will become. Eventually, you will hear as soon as the Lord speaks.

Practice Faith

We have already learned much that will improve our faith through the previous disciplines. I would add only a couple of points. James says that a person with a wavering faith is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind; let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord (James 1:6-7). Doubt crosses out faith. You could have real faith for something, and then doubt can come in and cross it out. So we need to learn how to reject negatives that create doubt.

As the other disciplines, this takes work, too. You will be battled with negative thoughts and feelings, but you can learn to reject them. Human nature leans toward the negatives. People tend to dwell on negative thoughts and feelings for quite some time before they realize what is happening to them. A soulish person will feel sorry for himself, and he would rather have someone feed it by sympathizing with him than to break it. Human nature is like a pig in a mud hole; it loves to wallow in negative feelings – self-pity, anger, jealousy, etc. Many people are self-conscious and insecure. That can be corrected by learning to reject negative thoughts and feelings.

We also need to be more aware of our speech. You would be surprised how much your speech turns loose negatives that wipe out your faith. Eliminate negative input. A person’s speech is usually influenced by his feelings (emotions) and his mental processes. Both are on the soul realm. We must learn to be led by the Holy Spirit. And the leadings of God come to our spirit first. Anything that feeds your emotions without coming through your spirit is questionable. God is Spirit and all communication and revelation from Him comes to your spirit.

Faith operates best in the absence of emotions. When you feel spiritual and full of faith, you tend to rely on your feelings rather than faith. Dedication is stronger and more effective when you are not on an emotional high. When you dedicate yourself to the Lord while on an emotional high, the dedication tends to wane along with the emotional high. You cannot maintain an emotional high, but you can maintain faith.

Copyright © 1999 by Henry DuBose