Biblical Spiritual Disciplines
Spiritual disciplines are practices that exercise our spirit, mind, and emotions so that we become closer to God. Their purpose is to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us unto Christ’s image (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul represented these spiritual disciplines as taking off the “old self” and putting on the new, “which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:9-10).
Through these disciplines, the Holy Spirit enables us to obey God’s commands (Exodus 20:3-7). Paul admonished the church, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13). These spiritual disciplines may be summed as follows:
Bible Study and Meditation
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Prayer and Fasting
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning” (Joel 2:12).
Worship and Fellowship
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).
“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).
“Therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19, 20).
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,”says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
“In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives” (Hebrews 7:8).
Counterfeit Spiritual Disciplines
There are other un-biblical spiritual disciplines that are not in harmony with the truths of the Scriptures because they use mystical and the extra-biblical, beliefs of Eastern mysticism, Catholic mysticism, and New Age concepts. They are called “Spiritual Formations” and use specific techniques such as meditation, contemplative prayer, chanting, and visualization to find an experience or feeling with God apart from His Word.
Many of these practices often involve the quest to empty the mind of all thought so that humans can then “experience” the one above all thought. “Seeking the silence,” “breath prayers,” repeating single words or sentences mantra-style, are claimed to cause the soul to connect with the divine. But these practices are subtle forms of spiritualism which the Bible warns against because it leads to direct contact with demons (Deuteronomy 18:10, 11; Leviticus 20:6,27).
For more on Spiritual Formation, check: https://bibleask.org/is-meditation-or-clearing-the-mind-exercises-ok-for-christians/
In His service,