posted 07 November 2004 02:02
The Spiritual Triad
By John Paul Jackson
Spiritual disciplines are designed to cause specific areas of our lives to be submitted to the Holy Spirit. When we practice these disciplines, our spiritual perceptions become more keenly sensitive to what God is doing in and around us. They help us overcome hurdles that have long stood in our way and help us bond with God.
Exercising spiritual disciplines will not cause God to give us more insight or power. They simply pulverize anything in our lives that does not allow our spirit to rule. Thus, we achieve spirit-to-Spirit communication with God's Holy Spirit.
I believe the three most powerful spiritual disciplines are praying, giving, and fasting. These disciplines are not choices for believers, but rather they are spiritual imperatives. Jesus left no option but to embrace these three disciplines when He said, "When you pray … when you fast … when you give …" (Matthew 6:1-18). They are vital to spiritual growth.
Praying subordinates our spirit to the Holy Spirit; we hear from the One who searches the deep things of God. Prayer sustains our intimacy with God, encouraging us to be steadfast and guarding our hearts against becoming disheartened.
Fasting subordinates our body to the rule of our spirit. This allows the body to respond and carry out the desires of the spirit. As we embrace fasting, we discover how often we use food as a comfort and a replacement for God. In fasting, we are reminded how God is truly our comforter as well as our sustenance.
Giving subordinates our soul to the rule of our spirit. The soul then is able to carry out the commands of our spirit to love those things God loves and hate those things He hates. Giving away anything necessary for daily sustenance creates a spiritual vacuum in our lives that God loves to fill. Living simply in order to give more away allows us to "give more than we take." It causes us to focus on God's purposes rather than our needs.
As we embrace spiritual disciplines, we change. The crusty parts of us soften. The turmoil lessens, and we see others much more clearly in the light of our own weaknesses. We are better able to bless those who curse us, be at peace with others and ourselves, and fend off jealousy when others receive praise.
Spiritual disciplines promote spiritual growth. By practicing them, we can "study to show ourselves approved" as well as persevere through the storms of life without fainting. We can experience spiritual breakthroughs, finding greater joy and fruitfulness.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit, spiritual disciplines conform us to the image of Jesus Christ and enable us to live victoriously. As His Word abides in us, we will have spiritual authority to speak to hindrances, obstacles, and insurmountable problems in our lives and the lives of others.