There is an immense difference in training to do something and trying to do something

Spiritual Discipline: What Faith Alone Won’t Do

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Thousands of times…

Faith doesn’t guarantee mental health.

But that doesn’t mean we should be lazy when it comes to spiritual disciplines. I know, I know, some of you struggle with the term. As do I, at times.

Spiritual discipline sounds unpleasant, regimented, like enslaving oneself to good works instead of embracing grace. It sounds an awful lot like trying to earn grace, trying hard to be better, not resting in God.

But look at it this way, have you ever envied the freedom of the musician on stage to play a complicated piece, or the freedom athletes display in their sports?

The concert pianist didn’t wake up one morning and climb onstage. While we all start out with talents and interests, gifts. But we need to develop them.

Yes, there are prodigies. But we all know they’re rare, and I’ve never met a spiritual prodigy who just magically grew more Christ-like and knowledgeable of Scripture without actually reading or listening to God’s Word and praying.

Spiritual Discipline = Freedom

The concert pianist requiring hours and hours and hours of practice to reach the point of playing so freely isn’t mine. I borrowed it from a John Ortberg book I read several years ago. In a college Spiritual Formation class, we read The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People (a new edition came out last year). You can check it out for more about the importance of being intentional in your spiritual life, and tips on how to find freedom in discipline.

He also uses the example of the athlete. What Paul used to communicate truth to the first-century readers of his letters is also familiar to us. You’re not going to just by wanting to, or by merely trying. It takes an organized effort.

As John Ortberg says, it’s about training wisely, not trying harder.

In an article for the Journal of Psychology and Theology, Dallas Willard refers to practicing spiritual disciplines as not only becoming active in spiritual growth, but also as planning for routine progress in wholeness.

Doesn’t that sound appealing?

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Spiritual transformation is not a matter of trying harder, but of training wisely. John Ortberg


My mental illness, any of our weaknesses, should remind us that we need to be intentional in all areas of health. Which means exercising discipline even when I don’t feel like making an effort.

I’ll be back soon with more about spiritual disciplines and ways to make them part of life, not as a chore, or sterile to-do-list checkbox, but a vital tool for growth and health – HEALTHY SOUL HABITS. In the meantime, check out some of my favorite Bible study resources.

Let’s be intentional in our spiritual walk!

Women of Intention

My blogger friend Amanda over at Maple Alps is running a series of interviews with women talking about intentionality in specific areas of life. This week, discussing intentionality in mental health, I’m the featured Woman of Intention. Check it out here!


Suggested Reading

Check out these reviews of more Books Worth Reading.

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4 thoughts on “Spiritual Discipline: What Faith Alone Won’t Do

  1. Thank you for sharing! I kept thinking of that song “There is Power in The Name Of Jesus”. He is ready to break every chain. Praying for deliverance for those who struggle with mental health!

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