When it comes to the spiritual disciplines, most of the time I feel like a failure.
I think it has to do with the idea that the disciplines are the end instead of the means to the end. I realize that the end is to live or be like Jesus in life. But I'm not sure I live that way as it relates to spiritual disciplines. Let me explain.
John Ortberg, in a message to pastors in 1993, shared three questions he felt were most relevant to spiritual disciplines and the Christian life. There are:
1. What is the life of Jesus really like? In other words, what would it look like to live the life he lived and taught about today? (See the New Testament for the life of Jesus in detail)
2. What are the barriers in my life that keep me from living that way? (This includes sins but not limited to them)
3. What are the activities that I can engage in through which God, by the power of his spirit, can help me overcome those barriers?
It starts with the end in mind. The disciplines become a means to an end instead of the end themselves. The end is to live life like Jesus would if he were in our shoes. That is to love God and to love people. (Matt. 22:37-39)
In other words, start with life as Jesus intended it. Then identify the barriers in your life keeping you from living like Jesus intended. Then determine what activities will help you overcome those barriers. That's what spiritual disciplines are for. They are a means to living the life that Jesus intended.
As I come to understand this better, it changes the way I look at spiritual disciplines.
First, instead of doing them to earn browning points with God, I see them as spiritual training. Just like a basketball player shoots free throws everyday so that he can hit them in the big game, I practice daily disciplines so that when I live life (the real game) I can live it as Jesus would if he were in my shoes.
What now? I suggest you ask yourself these 3 questions. Write down your answers and prayerfully consider how God wants you to answer them. Then go for it and live the life Jesus really intended for you!