The teams that win championships are the ones that do the basics the best. If you want to win in life get good at the basic disciplines of spirituality—prayer, meditation, giving, sacrifice, study, fasting, silence, solitude, worship, and fellowship to name a few.
These are the things that will position you to mature. Without them you can operate in great spiritual power but remain an infant spiritually. These practices help form Christlikeness in every area of your body, soul, and spirit. They put you on the path where the fruits of the Spirit naturally come out of you, like fruit from a vine. I like how The Message puts it:
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Galatians 5:22–23
Throughout the ages, from at least Abraham on, spiritual giants have had one thing in common—a life fashioned by spiritual disciplines. Isaac meditated daily. David worshipped, prayed four or seven times a day, understood sacrificial giving, and fasted. Daniel’s regular practice of prayer couldn’t even be interrupted by the threat of death. Jesus constantly went to a solitary, quiet place to pray and practice silence. Paul spent years alone with God. And history tells of so many more.
We often think that to become spiritual giants, mighty warriors for God we need some spectacular experience that sets us apart and we instantly become changed into a new person that naturally walks with God and lives a holy life that can confront the pressures of the world around us. It sounds nice but it doesn’t actually happen that way.
It is true that God will use spectacular spiritual experiences to help us, encourage us, and even promote us on the way—but those experiences don’t mature us. Choosing to put ourselves before God every day through spiritual disciplines actually gives us the strength so that those experiences don’t end up being “flash in the pan” “remember when” events but propel us forward. A disciplined life allows us to mature whether or not those experiences happen.
We should all desire to be great warriors for the King. The champions are the ones that do the basics well consistently, whether they feel like it or not. They are the ones that have a plan in place to grow and mature. And they are the ones that day in and day out consistently position themselves before the only One that can actually transform them into the dream of God and the cry of creation—mature sons and daughters!
P.S. To learn more about spiritual disciplines and the help they bring in our spiritual growth I would suggest reading The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster and The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard.
P.P.S. There is much that could be said about turning spiritual disciplines into a legalistic practice, if that is a concern of yours, reading Richard Foster’s book will be helpful. The spiritual disciplines in and of themselves do not change us but rather position us before God Who is the only One Who can change us.