The Externals and Internals of
I read something recently that made me think about some things surrounding the Christian life and the disciplines that one practices.
As we grow in our spiritual walk with the LORD, there certainly are things that will help us to grow and to be established in the faith. But when one begins to think that these disciplines will make us a better person, or are to be relied upon solely, then they have left the path towards true spiritual growth.
Below are some of these disciplines that I have seen mentioned. Again, while to be considered as good elements to practice, they are actually the “externals” of reaching towards spiritual growth.
The spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, study, service, giving, and silence, and why they are so indispensable to the disciple of Jesus Christ.
Without prayer, the believer loses his channel of communicating with the Father. However, we must know that He also reaches out to us.
Our prayer to Him, while indispensable, cannot replace our relationship with Him. Prayer can become a thing that some practice, thinking that it is a duty to be performed, and not a cherished endeavor.
We are encouraged to give, and yet our giving doesn’t make us a better person, but it should spring forth out of a heart condition that gives in compassion and mercy to others.
I would equate service to be very similar in essence, to giving. Both work hand-in-hand with each other. However, our service is actually not unto others, but it is unto the LORD Himself.
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” Matthew 25:40.
We know that without study, without examining the word and understanding it, our foundation in Him begins to sink. Again though, studying the word doesn’t replace our time spent in knowing Him. The very word and scripture that we read and study, should point to Him, and Him alone. For He is the living word.
Jesus came in contact with others who fasted and He knew that sometimes they did it for show, so that they could prove to others how spiritual they were. Again, this discipline then became an outward thing.
That’s not to say that fasting when done properly, will lead to a closer relationship with the LORD, it can. But it must be done under the right circumstances, between the individual and the LORD Himself. Isaiah 58 talks about these very things:
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day: and the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not,” Isaiah 58:6-11.
Finally, silence may well prove to be the greatest attribute for us in this life we lead as a believer. For in silence, one learns how to listen to that still, small voice. In silence, the sounds and clamorings of this life drift away. Then silence and prayer work in tandem with each other, as one approaches the throne room of God.
~ Stephen Hanson
Stephen Hanson of In His Truth Ministries came to the LORD is a special way in 1975 and has prophesied regularly since. In these end-time birthing pangs we are reminded that judgment must first begin with the household of God. Will we be prepared and ready?