Daily Disciplines



The aim of this article is to help Christians know and practice essential and daily disciplines involved in one’s personal communion with the Lord over His Word. The article hopes to give some helpful suggestions and resources which would help one to be disciplined in one’s personal communion with the Lord. The disciplines discussed in this article are organized upon a suggestive order of time spent in daily devotion. This model is sketched here to give some worthy considerations for a wise utilization of time spent in communion with the Lord through daily disciplines.

Why Spiritual Disciplines?

The inevitable nature of spiritual disciplines in Christian growth can be explained by taking note of the nature of authentic Christian growth. Growth in Christian life is essentially a growth in obedience to the greatest command – to love God with all your heart, strength, soul and mind, by the grace of God in the gospel of His Son, Lord Jesus Christ. The more we love God, the less we love the world. This growth is such that it happens through the renewing of our minds, resulting in our transformation. And this renewal of our mind happens through daily refreshing of our love of God, with the Word of God, the only source of divine revelation. It is in this daily refreshing of our love of God, that spiritual disciplines act as means of grace. Thus as inevitable means of grace in our personal communion with the Lord, whereby we refresh our love of God and grow in transformation, these daily disciplines are to be understood and practiced by every Christian for his own good and the glory of His Lord and Savior.

1.      Prayer

Our daily communion should begin in Word-saturated and heartfelt prayer. Two aspects of prayer that we need to be mindful are its content being biblical and its affections being honest. If our prayers are merely a routine where our hearts are not involved in it, then it descends to be a mere pagan ritual. On the other hand, our prayers also should be characterized by its biblical content. By biblical content, we do not mean just exact quoting of the Bible. What is meant is rather the language, the petitions and the reverence expressed in our prayers, should faithfully reflect that which the Bible declares about our God. In other words, our prayers should be inline with the Word of God As Joel Beeke says, all our prayers must be controlled, formed, and inspired by the Word of God.[1] The Word should direct our prayers – in its matter and in its manner. It is true that the best way to achieve these two qualities in prayer is to learn to turn biblical passages into prayers.  To begin with we can use prayers and petitions found in the Bible itself.

In his book When I Don't Desire God, John Piper  has a very helpful model of prayer called I. O. U. S. which is an acronym for what we should be praying before reading the Scriptures. Each of these are taken from the book of Psalms and they are as follows :
  1.  Incline my heart to you, not to prideful gain or any false motive. (Psalm 119:36)
  2. Open my eyes to behold wonderful things in your Word. (Psalm 119:18)
  3. Unite my heart to fear your name. (Psalm 86:11)
  4. Satisfy me with you steadfast love. (Psalm 90:14)
Regarding this acronym, Piper says :

I—(Incline!) The first thing my soul needs is an inclination toward God and his Word. Without that, nothing else will happen of any value in my life. I must want to know God and read his Word and draw near to him. Where does that “want to” come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 119:36 teaches us to pray, “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” Very simply we ask God to take our hearts, which are more inclined to breakfast and the newspaper, and change that inclination. We are asking that God create desires that are not there.

O—(Open!) Next I need to have the eyes of my heart opened so that when my inclination leads me to the Word, I see what is really there, and not just my own ideas. Who opens the eyes of the heart? God does. So Psalm 119:18 teaches us to pray, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” So many times we read the Bible and see nothing wonderful. Its reading does not produce joy. So what can we do? We can cry to God: “Open the eyes of my heart, O Lord, to see what it says about you as wonderful.”

U—(Unite!) Then I am concerned that my heart is badly fragmented. Parts of it are inclined, and parts of it are not. Parts see wonder, and parts say, “That’s not so wonderful.” What I long for is a united heart where all the parts say a joyful Yes! to what God reveals in his Word. Where does that wholeness and unity come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 86:11 teaches us to pray, “Unite my heart to fear your name.” Don’t stumble over the word fear when you thought we were seeking joy. The fear of the Lord is a joyful experience when you renounce all sin. A thunderstorm can be a trembling joy when you know you can’t be destroyed by lightning. “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to . . . the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name” (Neh. 1:11). “His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD” (Isa. 11:3). Therefore pray that God would unite your heart to joyfully fear the Lord.

S—(Satisfy!) What I really want from all this engagement with the Word of God and the work of his Spirit in answer to my prayers is for my heart to be satisfied with God and not with the world. Where does that satisfaction come from? It comes from God. So The Focus of Prayer in the Fight for Joy. Psalm 90:14 teaches us to pray, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” [2]

George Mueller who was well known for his prayer life and faith in God, testified about his experience of praying through Scriptures and how it transformed his prayer life. Mueller says:

The first thing I did (early in the morning), after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious word, was, to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching, as it were, into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my soul.  The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer….  With this mode I have likewise combined the being out in the open air for an hour, an hour and a half, or two hours before breakfast, walking about in the fields, and in the summer sitting for a little on the stiles, if I find it too much to walk all the time.  I find it very beneficial to my health to walk thus for meditation before breakfast, and am now so in the habit of using up the time for that purpose, that when I get in the open air, I generally take out a New testament of good-sized type, which I carry with me for that purpose, besides my Bible: and I find that I can profitably spend my time in the open air, which formerly was not the case for want of habit….  The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this.  Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time….  But what was the result?  I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc; and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then really began to pray.  I scarcely ever suffer now in this way.  For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it!) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.   It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point. [3]

Another helpful resource worth considering for learning to pray biblically is D.A Carson’s exposition of Pauline prayers, “A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers”. In it, Carson carefully works through each of Paul’s prayer found in the Epistles, explains first its meaning, then the priorities of Paul in these prayers and finally makes application of his exposition to our lives. Carson reflects upon comparing our priorities with that of Paul and suggests that we  ask ourselves how far the petitions we commonly present to God are in line with what Paul prays for. Suppose, for example, that 80 or 90 percent of our petitions ask God for good health, recovery from illness, safety on the road, a good job, success in exams, the emotional needs of our children, success in our mortgage application, and much more of the same. How much of Paul’s praying revolves around equivalent items? If the center of our praying is far removed from the center of Paul’s praying, then even our very praying may serve as a wretched testimony to the remarkable success of the processes of paganization in our life and thought. [4]

Carson employs Paul to disclose the priorities of God concerning His people and how a realigning of one’s priorities to that of God, radically transforms one’s prayer. Thus he shows us from Paul, what we should pray and how we should pray.

We quickly learn that God is more interested in our holiness than in our comfort. He more greatly delights in the integrity and purity of his church than in the material well-being of its members. He shows himself more clearly to men and women who enjoy him and obey him than to men and women whose horizons revolve around good jobs, nice houses, and reasonable health. He is far more committed to building a corporate ‘temple’ in which his Spirit dwells than he is in preserving our reputations. He is more vitally disposed to display his grace than to flatter our intelligence. He is more concerned for justice than for our ease. He is more deeply committed to stretching our faith than our popularity. He prefers that his people live in disciplined gratitude and holy joy rather than in pushy self-reliance and glitzy happiness. He wants us to pursue daily death, not self-fulfillment, for the latter leads to death, while the former leads to life. [4]

A careful study of this book would make one’s prayer life more in line with the Scriptures, both in its content and in its conduct.

It is important to remind the reader at this point that the aim of the article is not to give a comprehensive list of useful resources regarding prayer, but to inform those essential aspects of prayer that ought to be found in our lives. Resources are mentioned only as helpful suggestions for developing these aspects.

2.      Bible Reading

If we find our daily reading of the Bible being irregular, then chances are it is because we have no plan regarding it. If we get up in the morning not knowing where in the Bible we should read, then in a matter of little time, we would quit doing it altogether. Our mind should be crystal clear where we are going or else the devil will easily lead us astray. It is for this purpose that we should use a Bible reading plan. The most famous plan is of course M'Cheyne's Bible reading plan. It helps us read the Bible in an year, by reading 4 chapters a day. For some of us that is too much of a load. However if you work on it with much prayer, you will find that it is a possible discipline. A helpful thing to do would be to break the 4 chapters across the day. Say two chapters in the morning and two chapters in the evening. Or some of us who have more time during the day can break it into a chapter across 4 different times of prayer a day (Morning, Noon, Evening and Night). If you are in a Christian family, then you can read two chapters in your personal devotion and two in your family devotions. There are many such helpful ways to keep this daily plan.

A very similar and helpful resource is the one from Discipleship Journal where again its 4 chapters a day and has features as follows :
  1. By reading from four separate places in the Scripture every day you should be able to better grasp the unity of the Bible, as well as enjoy the variety of seeing four different viewpoints.
  2. You can begin at any point of the year.
  3. To prevent the frustration of falling behind, which most of us tend to do when following a Bible reading plan, each month of this plan gives you only 25 readings. Since you'll have several "free days" each month, you could set aside Sunday to either not read at all or to catch up on any readings you may have missed in the past week.
  4. If you finish the month's readings by the 25th, you could use the final days of the month to study passages that challenged or intrigued you.
  5. If reading through the entire Bible in one year seems daunting, you can alter the plan. For example, you could read the gospels and the wisdom books this year, and the other two categories next year. [5] 
Though some of these features are true for the M’Cheyne’s plan, the 25 days a month is perhaps the most helpful in this reading plan.

Bible reading should be an essential part of our daily disciplines. We should get more and more conversant with the Bible story line. It is quite astounding that there are multitudes of Evangelical Christians who are yet to read their Bibles from cover to cover. Vast majority of Christians sitting in Evangelical churches are yet to read some of the Old Testament books. Some even yet to cover the New Testament canon. By being so, there are missing major chunks of glorious details of the Bible’s story of God’s redemption of His people. To curb this evil of bible illiteracy among Evangelical churches, we should be zealous in reading the Bible in a disciplined and systematic manner. For this, Bible reading plans seems to be a good tool.

If you are the head of a family, then it is recommended that you would make your family have a reading plan. Model it yourself and then make your family also follow it. Incorporate this reading plan to your family devotions. Be mutually accountable to each other on this discipline and see to it that every one in the family is keeping it and getting conversant with their Bibles.

If you are a pastor, then it is recommended that you make the church family have a reading plan. Many churches now a days do not practice Bible reading in their public worship. It would be highly beneficial, if the church gives the reading of Scriptures a prominent place in their public worship. It would be more beneficial if that reading is systematical and follows a plan. Say, systematic reading of New Testament on Sunday mornings and that of Old Testament on Sunday evenings. Let the church be known for its passionate reading of the Scriptures.

3.      Meditation

It would not be wrong to say that meditation is the discipline of all disciplines. For it is in meditation that the Word transforms us. As Don Whitney says, Reading is the exposure to Scripture, but meditation is the absorption of Scripture. And it's the absorption of Scripture that leads to the transformation of our lives.[6] Moreover all other disciplines to be properly done requires the strength derived from the Word in meditation. Our prayers to be biblical and powerful requires a transformed mind which has absorbed the Word of God in meditation. Our reading to be regular and passionate requires a hunger for the Word, produced and preserved by the rich experiences of finding food for soul in meditation. The memorization of Scripture is also only possible if one meditates on it. Thus it is right to judge meditation as the discipline of all daily disciplines with the Word.

The Bible itself speaks of the importance of this discipline of meditating upon God’s Word. The blessed man in Psalm 1 is the one who delights in and meditates day and night on the Word of God. The Psalmist in Psalm 119 speaks of his diligence in this discipline of meditation. He meditates on the Word in order to live a life marked by abstinence from sin, Psalm 119:11 “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you”.  He meditates on the Word to not forget the Word and to constantly delight in it, Psalm 119:15-16 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.  He seeks God to illumine him, for him to continue being diligent in his meditation, Psalm 119:27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
 
Martin Luther who suggested meditation as one of the key rules in studying theology correctly, defines meditation as reading and rereading them with diligent attention and reflection, so that you may see what the Holy Spirit means by them. [7]. Luther makes the Psalmist in Psalm 119 his example for this discipline and notes, Thus you see in this same Psalm how David constantly boasts that he will talk, meditate, speak, sing, hear, read, by day and night and always, nothing except God's Word and commandments. For God will not give you his Spirit without the external Word; so take your cue from that. His command to write, preach, read, hear, sing, speak, etc.., outwardly was not given in vain. Dr. Rob Plummer commenting on this understanding of Luther concerning meditation, summarized meditating on the Bible not as simply quietly reflecting on a passage, but singing, reciting, memorizing, and writing the word. Meditating on the Word is using whatever intellectual and creative energies God has given us to focus on his revelation in thought, action, speech, or image. [8]

It is precisely this intellectual aspect of meditating on the Word, that makes Christian meditation different from every other form of meditation as found in other religions. It is indeed quite an alarming thing that an increasing number of Christians, especially in the West are being drawn into Eastern religious concepts of meditation which are nothing but unbiblical. Seeking of an empty mind, ethereal experiences, inner voice etc are some of the unbiblical characteristics of this trend. However for proper biblical meditation, our minds cannot be emptied, rather it needs to be saturated with the Word. Hence it is advised to be discerning while working through some of the contemporary Christian literature on this matter of meditation.

With regard to how meditation ought to be done, Evangelicals are in agreement that reflecting upon the Word is at its core. As pointed out earlier from Luther, meditation is not just reflection, it is much more. However reflecting upon Scriptures is the central aspect of this discipline. The Evangelical answer to how then should we reflect upon Scripture is varied, not in essence but in methods. However each of it has the following inevitable elements. The first thing suggested is to read and reread the Scripture (finding the meaning of the text), secondly to ask pertinent questions regarding the text (finding the implications of the text), thirdly to find personal applications (finding the application of the text) and finally to ponder over it through out the day.

Reading and rereading the text is the first and foremost thing to be done in reflection. As Luther pointed out, we read and reread to see what the Holy Spirit means by the Word. [9] In other words, we are trying to see what the Word is saying. Some have made helpful suggestions like reading the verse slowly with different emphasis on different words of the Scripture and rewriting the verse in our own words. All of this is aimed at us absorbing what the text means.

In the second element of asking questions, we are seeking to know the implications of the text. Here we are asking questions to unveil logical relationships between propositions within the text or between the text and other texts of the Bible, and draw conclusions regarding truth and life. What pertinent questions need to be asked is again answered differently by Evangelicals. In his book on meditation, English Puritan Joseph Hall, suggests ten matters to be considered concerning any text. Each of it can be phrased as appropriate questions regarding the text, as shown in parentheses :
  1. Description of that we meditate of. (What is it? -Define and/or describe what it is.)
  2. An easy and voluntary division of the matter meditated. (What are its divisions or parts?)
  3. Consideration of the causes thereof, in all kinds of them. (What causes it?)
  4. The consideration of the fruits and effects. (What does it cause i.e. its fruits and effects?)
  5. Consideration of the subject wherein or whereabout it is. (What is its place, location, or use?)
  6. Consideration of the appendances and qualities of it. (What are its qualities and attachments?)
  7. Of that which is diverse from it, or contrary to it.( What is contrary, contradictory, or different to it?)
  8. Of comparisons and similitudes, whereby it may be most fitly set forth. (What compares to it?)
  9. The titles and names of the thing considered. (What are its titles or names?)
  10. Consideration of fit testimonies of Scripture concerning our theme. (What are the testimonies or examples of Scripture about it?) [10][11]
Donald Whitney has a series of questions based on Philippians 4:8, which he suggests is not just useful in meditating text and applying in our life, but also for bringing our lives to the text and realigning our thoughts regarding our life, to the sound foundation of the Scriptures. The questions are as follows :
  1. What is true about this, or what truth does it exemplify?
  2. What is honorable about this?
  3. What is right about this?
  4. What is pure about this, or how does it exemplify purity?
  5. What is lovely about this?
  6. What is admirable, commendable, or reputation-strengthening about this?
  7. What is excellent about this (i.e., excels others of this kind)?
  8. What is praiseworthy about this? [12]
In the third element of applying the text, we consider both its meaning and its implication, to make necessary applications upon basically two broad areas, our theology – (what we must believe) and our life (what we must do).  Theological applications could range from learning a doctrine to correcting our errors. It thus has to do with our understanding of God’s truth in the text. The Spirit of God is leading us to all the truth and thus through daily meditations, we are being lead by the Spirit, not to understand new and novel truths, but to understand the unseen glories of the same old truth, contained only in the Bible. Theological considerations would include asking ourselves :
  1. Do I understand what the text is saying?
  2. Is my understanding of this particular truth, inline with what the text is saying?
  3. Is there a need for correction of any of my doctrinal beliefs?
  4. What are the characteristic flaws in my thinking, which lead me to positions unwarranted by this text?
  5. Do I appreciate the truth in the text as one which enriches my faith and devotion to Christ?
Practical applications might range from believing in the truth so seen to praising God to confession of one’s sins. It has to do with our affections to God’s truth in the text. Practical considerations would include questions like :
  1. Do  I believe what the text says?
  2. Do I build my life upon its truth?
  3. If its an imperative, do I pursue to keep it in my life?
  4. Do I praise God sufficiently for His grace by which I have kept it so far in whatever measure I find in myself?
  5. If I have failed in it, have I confessed it and repented of it?
  6. What practical efforts need to be taken to avoid sinning in this area?
These questions listed under theological and practical applications are not comprehensive and the aim is merely to give an example of how applicatory questions can be framed in each case.

Finally, the fourth element in the outline sketched by Evangelicals regarding the practice of meditation, is to ruminate over the text through out the day. Some suggest the use of meditation mapping, to keep the text before us. Memorizing the text and frequently reciting it meaningfully as prayer or praise or confession is also a helpful and faith building practice.

When we thus meditate upon the Word of God, the Scriptures says we shall be “careful to do according to all that is written in it.” (Joshua 1:8) and shall be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:2) In other words, careful obedience and abiding fruitfulness would mark our lives.

4.      Memorization

The Psalmist in Psalm 119, says very emphatically to God about his commitment to not forget the Word. (v.16). As seen earlier, the final element in meditation is to ruminate the Word through out the day. For it to be successfully done, one needs to memorize the text. It is in this respect that the relevance of Scripture memorization is properly understood. These disciplines are thus mutually complementary. Without meditation, memorization would be merely mechanical and is of no spiritual value. Without memorization, meditation would be limited to the closet and lacks any bearing upon the daily affairs of a Christian. Thus these two disciplines are though distinct yet inseparable. Charles Spurgeon took note of this relationship between these two disciplines and thus exhorts his readers with poor memory to meditate much. He says You complain of short memories; you say that what you have heard you can scarcely remember to another day… Complain not, then, of thy memory, complain of thyself if thou art not given to meditation[13]

The Psalmist clearly reveals this essential relationship between these two disciplines when he says in Psalm 119:15-16: I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. The Psalmist makes three commitments in this verse – To meditate upon God’s Word and His ways, the discipline of meditation; To have the appropriate affection of delight in the Word, the discipline of practical application; and, To not forget the Word, the discipline of memorization. The order of these disciplines in his statement is to be carefully noted. First rigorous and deep thinking over the Word, then proper affections towards the Word, followed by a conscious remembrance of the Word. For a healthy practice of each of these disciplines in our life, it is highly important that we take note of this pattern and follow it. For meditation without memorization would produce forgetful doers. While memorization without meditation would produce forgetful hearers.

In addition to this benefit of serving meditation, thereby developing a Word-saturated mind and lifestyle, memorization can reap many other benefits in our life. John Piper, well known for his promotion of this discipline, enlists six benefits of memorization. He is no way in favor of mechanical memorization, but rather is interested in seeing himself and his people memorize the Word for their own spiritual benefits. It is noteworthy that the only offensive weapon listed by Paul, in his description of the Christian’s armor in Ephesians 6, is the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God. Let us follow our Lord Jesus Christ and wield this sword against all temptations of sin and Satan.

The six benefits of Scripture memorization listed by Piper are :

1.      Conformity to Christ - 2 Corinthians 3:18
2.      Daily Triumph over Sin - Psalm 119:9, 11
3.      Daily Triumph over Satan - Matthew 4:1-11
4.      Comfort and Counsel for People You Love - Proverbs 25:11
5.      Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers
6.      Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways [14]

Regarding how this discipline is to be practiced, the individual himself would have to make some decisions. One needs to choose between memorizing a verse every day randomly chosen by some memorization plan, like the Fighter Verse program[15] and memorizing the same text that is being meditated during daily devotion and thus memorize a whole book. Some believe memorizing books is inherently a superior practice that memorizing individual verses randomly chosen. The argument is that memorizing individual verses tends to miss intervening verses that the individual does not feel are as significant, that there is a flow of argumentation in Scripture that is missed if individual verses are memorized and that there is also a greater likelihood of taking verses out of context by focusing on individual verses.[16] Some others like Piper, who support and promote Fighter Verse program, also suggests the use of memorizing cluster of verses surrounding a particular theme in the Bible. For e.g. : a cluster of texts surrounding justification.[17]

Whichever plan is adopted, one must avoid mere mechanical memorization and seek to follow the pattern of the Psalmist as explained above.

Conclusion

In this article, we sought to help Christians to know and practice essential and daily disciplines involved in one’s personal communion with the Lord over His Word. We considered four of these disciplines, namely prayer, reading, meditation and memorization. Helpful resources and suggestions were considered and provided in each case. In conclusion, it would be profitable to take note of the primacy and centrality of the Word of God in each of these disciplines - Prayer springing forth and directed by the Word, Bible reading aimed at being conversant with the Word, Meditation seeking to know and apply the sense of the Word and Memorization committed to retain the Word in our minds. Thus all of these disciplines are centered around the Word and any effort to make these disciplines depend on any other source is a categorical mistake. Attempts in the Evangelical world to approach spirituality through mystical disciplines[18], Contemplative prayer[19] and Eastern Religious concepts[20] are essentially an assault upon the centrality of the Word in genuine biblical spirituality. Evangelicals would do well by taking heed to and resounding the cry of the Protestant Reformers – Sola Scriptura, in this matter of spiritual disciplines too.

Footnotes
------------
[1] Joel R. Beeke, Calvin's Piety (MJT15, 2004), Pg 57
[2] John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God : How To Fight For Joy, (Crossway), Pgs 151-152
[3] Quoted in Roger Steer, George Müller Delighted in God  (Christian Focus, 1997), Pgs 91-92
[4] D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
[5] Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study Aids One Year Bible Reading Plan From Discipleship Journal
[6] Donald S. Whitney, Simplify Your Spiritual Life (NavPress, 2003)
[7] Martin Luther, Preface to the Wittenberg Edition of Luther's German Writings, Luther's Works, Vol. 34
[8] Dr. Rob Plummer, Oral Address at the Southeast Regional Evangelical Theological Society meeting, March 2005
[9] Martin Luther, Preface to the Wittenberg Edition of Luther's German Writings, Luther's Works, Vol. 34
[10] Joseph Hall, The Art of Divine Meditation, The works of the Right Reverend Joseph Hall, University Press, 1863, Pgs 63-74
[11] The rephrasing of Hall’s considerations as questions was done by Donald Whitney.
[12] Donald S. Whitney, Simplify Your Spiritual Life (NavPress, 2003)
[13] Charles H. Spurgeon, Meditating on the Scriptures
[14] John Piper, Why Memorize Scripture?, desiringGod.org
[15] Fighter Verse Program is Bethlehem Baptist Church’s Scripture memory program.
[16] Dr. Andrew Davis, An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture, Pg 3
[17] John Piper, How Do You Remember the Scripture You've Memorized? desiringGod.org
[18] In Some Concerns about John C. Maxwell,  Dr. Richard G. Howe shows how the noted Christian author on spiritual disciplines, Roger Foster embraces and endorses mysticism and new age concepts in his books. In Pgs 13-16, Dr Howe says, “A few comments should suffice to show that some of Foster's doctrines are problematic. First, Foster teaches techniques of meditation saying that "the imagination is stronger than conceptual thought and stronger than the will. In the West, our tendency to deify the merits of rationalism—and it does have merit—has caused us to ignore the value of the imagination." He goes on to advocate listening to our dreams. "For fifteen centuries Christians overwhelmingly considered dreams as a natural way in which the spiritual world broke into our lives." He suggests that "we can specifically pray, inviting God to inform us through our dreams. We should tell Him of our willingness to allow Him to speak to us in this way." But then Foster adds, "At the same time, it is wise to pray a prayer of protection, since to open ourselves to spiritual influence can be dangerous as well as profitable." Foster appeals to the fact that many of the Church Fathers looked to dreams to encourage the reader to give dreams a try. Conspicuously, he makes little appeal to the Bible to justify these teachings. Further, Foster thinks that if one practices at meditation, he can develop his skills in order to internalize and personalize the Scriptures. He claims that in meditating on, for example, a parable of Jesus you enter "not as a passive observer but as an active participant, remember that since Jesus lives in the Eternal Now and is not bound by time, this event in the past is a living presentment experience for Him. Hence, you can actually encounter the living Christ in the event, be addressed by His voice and be touched by His healing power." Second, Foster advocates what looks to me like out of body experiences. He teaches "In your imagination allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body. Look back so that you can see yourself lying in the grass and reassure your body that you will return momentarily. Imagine your spiritual self, alive and vibrant, rising up through the clouds and into the stratosphere. Observe your physical body, the knoll, and the forest shrink as you leave the earth. Go deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator." Third, Foster also endorses the New Age writer Agnes Sanford, author of the book Healing Gifts of the Spirit.  He says "This advice, and much more, was given to me by Agnes Sanford. I have discovered her to be an extremely wise and skillful counselor in these matters. Her book The Healing Gifts of the Spirit is an excellent resource." To my mind, this is an extremely careless statement for a Christian to make. Agnes Sanford is a pantheist. She says, regarding the earth, the sea, the clouds, the birds and the sun, "all these God made and He made them out of Himself." Further, Sanford teaches "You see, God is actually in the flowers and the growing grass and all the little chirping, singing things. He made everything out of Himself and somehow He put a part of Himself into everything." Regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit, she says "But no experience ever equaled in bliss this baptism of pure light and power that came to me from God, not through the medium of man counseling and praying with me, but through the sun and the waters of the lake and the wind in the pine trees." Sanford appeals to the New Age writer Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's works The Phenomena of Man and The Divine Milieu as an authority for her own teachings. The fact that Foster likes her as much as he does, says something to me about his own discernment and world view. Last, Foster seems to include himself in the New Age Movement. He says "We of the New Age can risk going against the tide. Let us with abandon relish the fantasy games of children. Let's see visions and dream dreams." Now, perhaps I cannot be sure what Foster means by the term 'New Age,' but it is important to note that his book came out at the time that the New Age movement was propagating similar views.”
[19] “Contemplative prayer, also known as “centering prayer,” is a meditative practice where the practitioner focuses on a word and repeats that word over and over for the duration of the exercise. While contemplative prayer is done differently in the various groups that practice it, there are similarities. Contemplative prayer involves choosing a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within. Contemplative prayer usually includes sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settling briefly and silently, introducing the sacred word. When a contemplative pray-er becomes aware of thoughts, he/she is to return ever so gently to the sacred word.”, What is contemplative prayer?, gotquestions.org
[20] Eastern religious practices like the transcendental meditation and yoga are favored by some as innocent and non-religious practices that can be used by anyone even Christians.

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