As 2017 approaches, many of us are thinking about personal resolutions for the new year. One resolution that is always on my radar (and I think should always be on your radar) is the practice of spiritual disciplines.
I bet you’re a lot like me. You’ve made and broken many resolutions about Bible reading, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines. Sometimes the frustration of failure makes you question the value of making these types of resolutions.
While I’ve experienced failure, I also know that even when I fall short of my goal, I make more progress than I would have made without a goal. It’s the old adage, “Shoot for the stars. If you miss, you might make it to the moon.” Yes you might not keep your resolution about spiritual disciplines perfectly, but I bet you’ll make more progress than if you don’t make a resolution in the first place.
I think it’s a healthy thing to regularly stop and consider how we can do better in this area of our lives. We ought to be realistic, we ought to challenge ourselves, and we ought to listen to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
When it comes to spiritual disciplines in 2017, here are four of my resolutions:
- Bible reading. My goal this year isn’t directly related to a “plan.” I will have a plan, but my goal for 2017 is to slow down. As a task oriented person, I have a tendency to read for reading sake, just to check something off my list. This year I want to slow down and be more intentional. I want my Bible reading to spill over into meditation, rather than ending with one more thing marked off my to-do list.
- Prayer and silence. Again, my goal this year is to slow down. I need to “do” less and devote more time to prayer and silence. I need to stop seeing prayer as another thing I have to do and start seeing prayer as an amazing thing I get to do. I need to put Psalm 46:10 into consistent practice: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
- Giving. I live in the oil patch where the economy is boom or bust, so I realize sometimes people make less money than they did the previous year. With that disclaimer aside, when I am blessed to start a new year with more income than the previous year, I always want to give more than I gave the previous year. I always want to see God’s provision as an opportunity to be more generous.
- Reading. I love reading, which makes this an odd addition to a list about disciplines. I include it here because I find myself busy between home and church. This busyness tends to crowd out reading as something that doesn’t have to get done. However, as someone who teaches regularly, I know I need to learn from others consistently. That learning happens in reading, and it requires intentionality and discipline.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about spiritual disciplines and resolutions for 2017.
Originally published December 12, 2016 on landoncoleman.com.