Spiritual Disciplines

When someone starts to speak to us about ‘spiritual disciplines’ our eyes kinda roll back in our heads and we by default assume a defensive posture. Discipline of any kind is contrary to our nature and I would propose that is of our ‘fallen’ nature. Surely God didn’t create “in his image” a nature rebellious to discipline.
I should clarify the term as it is used here. The verb form generally suggests chastising, reprimanding, or in the extreme, punishing. But our present focus is on the noun form. Here we speak of discipline as a routine or a regimen, something we adhere to as a regulation. There are legal disciplines we term laws and authority. There are any number of disciplines we impose on ourselves, such as work, exercise, diet, sleep habits, and even self-control. We unite with society demanding the disciplines of morality and ethics from our neighbors.
So what are spiritual disciplines and how are they any different than those we have listed? Where is the authority for these disciplines? What penalty do I invite by my ignorance or refusing to abide by them?
Dallas Willard, in The Spirit of the Disciplines, and Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, have compiled a list of spiritual disciplines and practices they believe were modeled in the life of Christ. These disciplines are typically organized into two categories: the disciplines of abstinence (or “letting go”) and the disciplines of activity.
Disciplines of Letting Go
Solitude, Silence, Fasting, Frugality, Chastity, Secrecy, and Sacrifice.
These practices allow us to relinquish something in order to gain something new. We abstain from “busy-ness” in ministry, family life, and work. We stop talking for a while to hear from God. We give up buying another material possession to experience God more fully. First Peter 2:11 warns us to “abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” Identify what is keeping you from experiencing greater strength and perspective. Do you talk too much? Are possessions controlling you? Are you too worried about what others think? Choose disciplines that will help you become more dependent on God.
Disciplines of Activity
Study, Worship, Prayer, Fellowship, Confession, and Submission.

Dallas Willard writes, “The disciplines of abstinence must be counter-balanced and supplemented by disciplines of engagement (activity).” It’s choosing to participate in activities that nurture our souls and strengthen us for the race ahead.
Abiding fully to these disciplines is no more possible than fully obeying the Ten Commandments, living by the Beatitudes, or wholly exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit.
Remember you are a sinful being. The Bible refers to our bodies as vile and lowly (Phil. 3:21); earthy and corruptible (1 Cor. 15:48-50). Jesus indicates that evil things pour forth from it to defile humankind (Mark 7:20-23), and Romans characterizes it as having a throat like an open grave, a tongue and lips full of deceit and poison, a mouth full of cursing and bitterness, and feet in a hurry to shed blood (Rom. 3:13-15).
It is no wonder we find discipline such a challenge. But we must not lose heart. Spiritual discipline is not a matter simply for the mind or will; it is an activity of the body. We must intentionally choose to pick up the Bible and study it, meditate on it, and pray its passages. We must intentionally go to church, sing praise and worship to God and fellowship with other Christians. Your times of solitude, silence and secrecy, your fasting and frugality are all things we do with our body – not simply think about doing.
Spiritual discipline is a choice we make to honor and obey our Lord. Some have suggested that such is the only way we can draw near to God and make ourselves available to his abundant blessings.