A farmer is helpless to grow grain; all he can do is provide the right conditions for the growing of grain. He cultivates the ground, he plants the seed, he waters the plants, and then the natural forces of the earth take over and up comes the grain....This is the way it is with the Spiritual Disciplines - they are a way of sowing to the Spirit... By themselves the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done.”
— Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth
Discipline is the other side of discipleship. Discipleship without discipline is like waiting to run in the marathon without ever practicing. Discipline without discipleship is like always practicing for the marathon but never participating. It is important, however, to realize that discipline in the spiritual life is not the same as discipline in sports. Discipline in sports is the concentrated effort to master the body so that it can obey the mind better. Discipline in the spiritual life is the concentrated effort to create the space and time where God can become our master and where we can respond freely to God’s guidance.

Thus, discipline is the creation of boundaries that keep time and space open for God. Solitude requires discipline, worship requires discipline, caring for others requires discipline. They all ask us to set apart a time and a place where God’s gracious presence can be acknowledged and responded to.
— Henri Nouwen, A Spirituality of Living

Spiritual Disciplines: posts from the archives

Recommended Reading

Disciplines for the Inner Life
By Bob Benson, Michael W. Benson
The Sabbath (FSG Classics)
By Abraham Joshua Heschel