‘Discipline’ should be freeing, not binding

Discipline seems like such a dirty word.

I hear it, and I think ‘blood, sweat and tears’. Forcing myself to comply to a rigid routine and schedule. Whipping myself into shape.

And the concept of ‘spiritual discipline’ can be really offputting.

But there’s a lot to be said for practices that help us grow in our faith.


Jan Johnson, in Spiritual Disciplines Companion, writes that things like meditation, prayer, fasting, study, service, and worship can all be done in a legalistic, unhelpful way. But if approached with the right heart, they can build a deep trust in Christ.

Sometimes ‘little decisions’ multiply, whether it’s choosing to pray before you look at your device or television, or meditating on a bible verse while brushing your teeth – each and every time.

The goal of spiritual disciplines should be to become more like Jesus – certainly not to convince ourselves or others that we’re ‘good Christians’.

These everyday choices help us to trust and believe that God will do his work in our inner being through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16).

Our spirituality is not about us,  but the work of God in us.


  1. Great thoughts on discipline. Discipline is not often received well. I can’t think of one punishment growing up when I said, “Thank you, Mom, may I have some more.” When God disciplines us, He does so like my mom because He loved us. He wants to restore us, to redeem us .

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