Dr. Gupton said, “Spiritual disciplines are activities we do to cooperate with God’s work to transform us into the image of Christ.” As a firm believer in the Doctrine of Deification being the point of Christianity I thoroughly agree with Dr. Gupton.
He pointed out in class one day that we cannot look at the spiritual disciplines without first knowing that God is a HOLY God. It is from that holiness, as Doc Reece says, that all concepts such as love, justice, grace, peace, and mercy flow. So if we are to be conformed to the image of Christ and “put on the Divine Nature” as Saint Peter says then we must first recognize and accept that God is holy. God after all did say, “Be holy as I am holy.”
That is how I have come to understand the disciplines through this book. I am horribly wicked, but I have been regenerated. I am called to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ and to partake of the Divine Nature. The way I see the disciplines is a way, a vehicle, to take along the road of Deification. My main problem with implementing the disciplines is being disciplined enough to do it. I took an online test that also said I have an over-extended lifestyle too. It comes down to my unwillingness at times to give God control over my life and to give Him sufficient time.
Chapters two through five deals with the Inward Disciplines, which are Meditation, Prayer, Fasting, and Study. Out of all these I have found some common ground except fasting.
I have only fasted a couple times in my life. My biggest discipline that I am drawn to would have to be that of prayer. Being an Orthodox Christian, I firmly believe in “Lex orandi, lex credenda,” which means “the law of prayer is the law of belief. As we pray we believe. Prayer is very important to the Orthodox because in it our whole worldview and theology is expressed. Prayer is a very important discipline both individually and corporately.
Chapters six through nine deal with the Outward Disciplines, which are Simplicity, Solitude, Submission, and Service. Out of all of these the one that is newest to me, and the one I took the biggest interest in is that of Simplicity. To me this chapter really stood out because it directly challenges this notion of individualism and materialism found not only in our society but also in our communities and country. This discipline is the antithesis to that lifestyle, and I find it to be a great substitute to the way the world lives. We do not need all this stuff to make us happy. This discipline is about becoming content in all circumstances and with what you have.
The blessing of being a poor college student is that we learn to live poorly, and we can carry that frugal spirit over with us when we start making better money. I think it was one of the Wesley brothers who lived at a basic lifestyle even though their income increased throughout their life. They continued to give money away and to help people. I would like to be able to live simply so I can simply live.
Chapters ten through thirteen deal with the Corporate Disciplines of Confession, Worship, Guidance, and Celebration. The one I had not seen as a very valuable discipline from a corporate standpoint was that of Guidance. In this point of my life I am very torn about my future and where I’ll end up serving in His Kingdom. As I learn and grow in Orthodoxy this is a good discipline to have.
Fasting can be done for seeking God’s guidance. Fasting can heighten the spiritual senses of a believer and make one keener to the Spirit’s leading, which is something we all need in our lives.
I agree that fasting is so often overlooked in our society where we are afraid to deny ourselves of anything. Yet, Jesus said to deny that which is the hardest to deny: the self, the sarx as Doc Reece always states. We are to deny ourselves DAILY in some fashion. I think I resist this one the most. I find it hard to do and even during Lent I find it even harder to fast. I think that just getting started is the hard part. I do not know why I resist this discipline the way I do, but it is something I want to explore. I find it harder to fast from stuff like Twitter and Facebook than from food and such. This is also the one that is most neglected in my life along side of, oddly enough, prayer and confession.
As I have stated before the importance of prayer to an Orthodox Christian is very very high! Prayer is the law of belief. I think I am attracted to prayer because it is a very communal discipline, but also a very personal discipline as well. Prayer is what unites us as Orthodox Christians around the Lord’s Holy Table. That unification should carry over into our homes and private lives.