Why We Need Variety within Spiritual Disciplines

Below is a guest post by Chris Peek. Chris blogs at Trail Reflections where he offers content that encourages leaders to discover their life mission, live with intention, pursue adventure and become fully alive.


Why We Need Variety within Spiritual Disciplines

My heart is prone to forget. For seven years, my wife has struggled with a chronic health condition known as POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) – a form dysautonomia. From 2008-2011, we traversed the specialty medical circuit – VCU, Vanderbilt, Toledo, and the Mayo Clinic – as Karen underwent test after test, consultation after consultation.

Over time, it became apparent that she would be forced to manage the disease rather than be cured of it. Through the days, months, and years of pain and struggle, Karen has shown incredible strength and resolve. And as her condition became our new “normal,” our attention turned to growing our family.

Some doctors opined that we should hold off on having children. However, Karen’s POTS specialist in Toledo encouraged us to pursue pregnancy, stating that many POTS patients do really well while pregnant.

Yet after three miscarriages, we contemplated whether or not we should simply give up. Thankfully, we didn’t lose complete hope, even in the midst of some extremely dark days. Eventually, Karen got pregnant once again, and this time, everything seemed to be on track right up through the first several hours of labor.

I have a saying that few things in our lives seem to come easy, and the delivery of our son would be no exception. About 4:30 AM, the doctor burst into our room, jarring me out of my light nap. With a deep concern in his voice, he confirmed that both Karen’s and the baby’s heart rates were unstable. They needed to perform a C-section right away. After the longest hour-and-a-half of my life, she gave birth to our beautiful, healthy son.

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Prone to Forget

Six months later, my heart is prone to forget about the struggle and pain. I am more apt to go about our daily routine of diaper changes and battling acid reflux without spending a moment recognizing God’s blessing of a beautiful baby boy.

Similarly, my heart is prone to lose sight of the cross and the brutal sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. I am so self-absorbed that I am more concerned about paying the bills than God’s work throughout the nations. I can stand in awe of God’s blessing one day and have completely forgotten about His favor a mere 24 hours later.

Maybe that is why the apostle Paul urges us to “Pray without ceasing…” or why the Psalmist prayerfully offers, “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.”

There are so many distractions in our world that it takes discipline to remain in firmly entrenched in God’s presence. Spiritual discipline. That’s not a phrase we hear bandied about too much anymore, even within the walls of the church. Discipline sounds so twentieth century. We live in the century of instantaneous pleasure and success.

I’m probably the last person who should be writing about spiritual discipline because my heart is prone to wander and is filled with inconsistencies. Nevertheless, an ongoing relationship with God cannot exist without spiritual discipline. Discipline is a word we often associate with routine and boredom. Yet by adding a little variety, we can keep our relationship with God alive and vibrant.

Variety within Spiritual Disciplines

We don’t have to sit in the same location to pray or read the Bible. We don’t have to attend the same church service and sit in the same pew we have been sitting in for the last 20 years. If your spiritual walk feels stale, it’s probably because it is. The goal of spiritual discipline is not discipline in and of itself, but to draw into a more intimate walk with the Father.

What are some ways we can add variety to spiritual disciplines?

Worship – This can take on so many forms. Why not look for creative and meaningful ways to worship? Work is worship. Art is worship. Singing is worship. The key is whether the worship points back to God or to self.

Prayer – I like to pray while I am walking on a nature trail. Sometimes I talk to God while driving. Other times, I prefer to pray just sitting in silence. We may need to break away for an hour and spend time with God in His Creation.

Acts of Service – There are an infinite number of ways to serve the church and community. They key involves utilizing our unique calling in a variety of others-centered ways.

Bible Reading – There are numerous, sound Bible translations available to us, and it may help to switch up every once in a while. In addition, we have limitless books, courses, Bible studies, and workbooks available at the click of a mouse. These resources provide a helpful way to inject life into devotional times.

DISCUSSION: Is your heart prone to wander? What other ways can we add variety to spiritual disciplines in order to make our hearts come alive?


13 thoughts on “Why We Need Variety within Spiritual Disciplines

  1. Pingback: Why We Need Variety within Spiritual Disciplines | Trail Reflections

  2. I am prone to skip those things you mention if I am not being hammered by life. I wish I was more disciplined when things are "normal" and did not need to be pressured into doing those things I should be doing.

  3. Wonderful reminder, Chris. I have certainly been guilty at times of focusing more on the discipline than seeking Him. It's all about knowing Him and seeing Him as He is. He's invited us into something life-giving and fruitful, not stale and boring. Thanks so much.

  4. proneness to wander is an age-old problem in deveoping a close walk with the Lord. even the words of old hymns reflect the struggle–“Come Thou Fount” immediately comes to mind. part of this oldster’s worship discipline always incorporates truth from old hymns as well as from newer praise music. good thoughts, Chris!

    • Thanks so much! "Come Thou Fount" provides a great example of how the wandering heart is a struggle that knows no generational boundaries. As a side note, it is one of my all-time favorite hymns.

  5. I'm tend to wander when I allow noise to fill every moment. I need time to just be, without distractions. I also like your suggestion to mix things up. I read a different translation or format (chronological or historical) of the Bible each year. I'm also trying to remember to praise Him while doing jobs I dislike. Great thoughts here, Chris.
    My recent post 25 Intentional Kindness Ideas Around the Blogosphere

    • Thank you Deb. I agree that time for distraction-free, thoughtful reflection is a must. What is the best way you have found to make sure you can create that time in your life?

      And what a great idea – praising Him while engaging in tasks we dislike. That provides quite a challenge to our hearts, as it's pretty hard to grumble when we are focused on the Father.

  6. Great post Chris, we are prone to wonder away from God. It's why we need to regularly do the things that cause us to be close to Him. I enjoy doing random acts of kindness for others.

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