I am looking forward to the French Open which starts tomorrow night (my time) and it started me thinking about training. Tennis players put in a lot of effort to be physically fit for the two week competition and we often use physical training as an analogy for spiritual disciplines, such as Bible reading, studying, praying, fasting, meditating etc. While analogies are helpful and useful, at some point they usually break down.
Tennis players rely on doing certain exercises, certain drills, and certain work outs to get the results they want. However, spiritually we can’t rely on a certain spiritual discipline to get us the result we want. The purpose of a spiritual discipline is to put us before God so He can work on us. So it is not about us becoming proficient at a particular discipline, but rather about being open before God. It is not about which particular disciplines we are good at, but rather which ones help us to hear God.
I’m not dismissing the value of spiritual disciplines but it is important not to get so caught up in the practice of a discipline that we forget why we are doing it. We need to remember that it is God who sanctifies us, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). So it is not so important which spiritual disciplines we embrace because, unlike the training tennis players do, any spiritual discipline, done with the right attitude, can achieve the purpose of putting us before God.