Discipline is something that I struggle with, being raised in the era of on-demand media and instant gratification. There’s a difficulty in trying to sit down and read my devotion while I have thirty tabs open on my web browser that I keep trying to find time to get through before I open fifteen more so I can list every episode of one show within a theme because I listened to a podcast that’s sparked the old nostalgia for said show. However, I’ve recently been reading a series of books about improving writing and one of their many useful pieces of advice is to make a plan to write every day. Let’s apply this to the gospels; whether you’re “in the mood” to read the Bible or pray, we should do it every day so it becomes habitual.
I know, we hear “make time for Jesus” very often, but I’m going somewhere with this. There is a discipline in taking time for something in our fast-paced, high-stress, modern era. The books I’ve been reading describe taking time for writing as akin to showing up to work on time, which I believe is an excellent way to think about prayer. If we show up to work in God’s office every day for a certain amount of time, we are His employees working for the benefit of His plans. This approach allows the office to be anywhere, even if you get in your car and drive to a secluded field somewhere without the distraction of technology, or you stay in your car to read and pray without your phone for an hour.
The writing books also have a proposed calendar, which is also an excellent way to approach habitual time with Jesus. It doesn’t always have to be reading the Bible (which is still an engaging read), this calendar can involve other things like a new book about Christianity that you found on Amazon, or simply contemplating what you can learn from your experiences yesterday for an hour. Reading and reflection lead us to better learning about ourselves and how we can be better as Christ-followers, which can make us better employees of God.
Discipline, I’ve found, is when we describe something habitually good. When you do something often enough, like biting fingernails, it becomes a habit that you do out of instinct, and discipline is that same process consciously, and for something beneficial. Let me stress that this is hard work, like any discipline. Every discipline requires hard work; do you think that athletes like the pain of stretching and pressuring their muscles? It’s not fun. What’s important is that it will be worth it. When we dedicate ourselves to the discipline of developing a habit to take time for God, we will become better followers of His word.