Summary: Running the race is a difficult thing, but through certain Christ oriented practices we can have the endurance to complete the race.
87% of Americans own running shoes but don’t run.
One cannot be a disciple without learning discipline!
". . . discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness." ~ 1 Timothy 4:7b (NASB)
If I am going to develop Christ-like character in my life, there are certain disciplines, or habits I need to practice as part of my lifestyle. As the old saying goes:
Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.
1 Cor 9:24-27
1. Be discriminating in what we do-v. 25
Paul says that just as an athlete gives priority to habits that will develop him as a champion, a disciple gives priority to habits that develop Christ-like character. As we study the Scriptures, we discover four habits that Jesus told His disciples to make part of their lifestyle.
A. The habit of meditation -
"If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples." ~ John 8:31 (Amplified)
"And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed."
~ Joshua 1:8 (The Message)
B. The habit of prayer -
"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." ~ John 15:7-8 (NASB)
Jesus says that prayer is SINCERE because it is to be offered to God. You say, “that’s obvious, isn’t it?”
Then why at times are we so concerned about what others think of our prayer - what words we
use? -how it sounds? Jesus is not saying here that we should not pray in our times of public
worship - I believe that He is saying that the effectiveness of our public prayer is determined by
the SECRET prayer in the closet.
Bob Cook one said that we all have a sort of routine prayer in our system and one we get rid of that, real praying begins.
So the spiritual discipline of prayer is sincere, secret and also SPIRIT PROMPTED! That is what
we read in Romans 8: 26.27 (Look it up later)
We live in a world of INSTANT EVERYTHING
and so we often are looking for INSTANT PRAYER - you know. Big Blessings for Small
Installments. We even feel like we need to have an INSTANT START when we begin to pray.
R.A. Torry once said that we should never utter a single syllable in prayer until we are conscious
that we are in the presence of God and that sometimes requires a “holy pause.” Sometimes that
holy pause requires that we clear the desktop of our lives - we get rid of the clutter and trash that
seems to accumulate through the week. Once to visualize the need I placed a trash can at the
door of the Sanctuary to remind the congregation that it was time to make a deposit of anything
that would interfere with the holy pause that was needed for proper worship and prayer in coming
into the presence of God. Spirit - prompted prayer is of the prevailing variety where there is no
rush to leave the presence of the Lord and where we do not do all the talking but give Him time
to speak with us. Years ago I had a special phone that I bought at a thrift store as a prop and that
I adapted - I hack-sawed off the ear piece as a reminder of the kind of phone we sometimes use to
call heaven - you know the kind where it is impossible to listen and we do all the talking.
Spirit- prompted prayer does not ask for that which is just an Extension of our own ABILITIES
or what we can accomplish We do not ask for PEANUTS when we serve a God who majors in
Prayer that is Spirit - prompted is also prayer that comes from a HEART THAT IS BROKEN by
God. The Spirit makes sure that what breaks the heart of God also breaks our hearts. Sometimes
that means that we come to tears when we pray - we weep - we cry out to God because He has
implanted His heart in ours as we especially pray for those who need the Savior.
C. The habit of giving -
"So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple." ~ Luke 14:33 (Amplified)