An Introduction to Spiritual Disciplines

Presenter: Dr. Wilfred Graves Jr.

This is the second post of the teaching series: “Healthy Habits of the Christian Life.” Please sign up for this blog to be alerted of new posts by the Three Bible Teachers. There are two welcome videos to tonight’s session. The first video was recorded by Dr. Graves, Dr. Owens, and Dr. Hammonds the night before the class. The second video was recorded during the actual Zoom class.

Welcome and Introduction (Night Before)
This video contains the welcome and introductory remarks from April 15, 2020.

Welcome and Introduction Recorded 4-15-20

Welcome and Introduction (Zoom Class)
This video contains the welcome and introductory remarks from April 16, 2020.

Welcome and Introduction Recorded 4-16-20

Introductory Article and Video on Spiritual Disciplines
Lasting success in any enterprise or field of endeavor requires discipline. A scholar must be disciplined in her academic research and writing. An NBA player must be disciplined in perfecting his craft through lots and lots of practice. The late Kobe Bryant was known not only for his singular talent but also for his tireless work ethic. Proper training, discipline, and hard work are indispensable for success in education, athletics, business, public speaking, medicine, or any other area. The same is true of the Christian life. A successful Christian life requires discipline in the cultivation of healthy habits and routines.

You probably have noticed that the words “discipline” and “disciple” look very similar. In fact, the two words are closely related in meaning. To discipline is to teach or train someone in righteousness or proper behavior; whereas, a disciple is the recipient of this instruction. The twelve disciples in the Bible were followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus was the Master Teacher who taught the disciples the will and the ways of God. With the exception of Judas, the disciples followed the Lord’s supreme example until they looked like him in their character and actions. Like the original disciples, our goal should be to become more like Jesus with each passing moment.

Maybe you have read an article or listened to a teaching on the topic of spiritual disciplines. The Quaker author Richard Foster popularized the concept in his classic book on Christian spirituality entitled: Celebration of Discipline written in 1978. A spiritual discipline is a physical or mental activity derived from Scripture that a Christian does to aid his or her spiritual growth. Spiritual disciplines are what we do in the natural to positively benefit our spiritual lives. These disciplines have been practiced by the people of God since biblical times. Please watch the following short video that introduces the topic of spiritual disciplines.

“An Introduction to Spiritual Disciplines” with Dr. Wilfred Graves Jr.

Like most Christians, you have probably cultivated a regular routine of prayer, Bible reading, and public worship. However, there are many other spiritual disciplines that both Catholic and Protestant Christians have practiced historically from which you may derive great benefit. For example, Lectio Divina (divine reading) is a monastic practice that combines Bible reading, Scriptural meditation, prayer, and contemplation to promote fellowship with God and increase knowledge (and understanding) of his Word.

In Celebration of Discipline, Foster examined the inward disciplines of prayer, fasting, meditation, and study; the outward disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission, and service; and the corporate disciplines of confession, worship, guidance, and celebration. More recently, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, in her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook discussed over 60 practices that transform a Christian’s life. The West Angeles Church Adult Ministries Division compiled a chart of 52 disciplines that can be accessed through a link at the bottom of this post.

In the Foreword to the Special Anniversary Edition of Celebration of Discipline, Foster states that spiritual disciplines are “the means God uses to build in us an inner person that is characterized by peace and joy and freedom.” Calhoun defined spiritual disciplines as “intentional practices, relationships and experiences that [give] people space in their lives to ‘keep company’ with Jesus.” (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, p.17). The regular practice of even a few spiritual disciplines can greatly enhance a person’s walk with the Lord and help him or her to become a mature follower of Jesus. Spiritual disciplines help Christians to create space in our lives for the Lord so that we can fellowship with him and become more like him.  

For the next few weeks, we will explore the topic “Healthy Habits of the Christian Life.” This series of writings, video lectures, and discussions will introduce you to several important spiritual disciplines and help you to become a fully developed disciple of Christ. We believe that you are about to embark on a wonderful journey of learning and spiritual growth. We pray that your life will never be the same.

In Christ,
The Three Bible Teachers

Three Bible Teachers Discussion

Preliminary Conversation on Spiritual Disciplines (4-16-20)

Question and Answer Period

Zoom Class Question and Answer Period (4-16-20)

Assignment and Conclusion

Assignment and Conclusion (4-16-20)

Applying What Was Learned: Homework from Dr. Graves

  1. Please read the article on spiritual disciplines at the beginning of this post.
  2. Look at the chart of 52 disciplines and make a list of the disciplines that you have practiced in the past. See link below.
  3. In the same list, choose 3 to 5 disciplines that you have never practiced that you would like to try or to learn more about. God may be leading you to explore these new spiritual disciplines.
  4. For those of you that did the assignment that Dr. Hammonds gave last week, send us an email about your experience to Also, feel free to email us at any time with your testimonies.

Quick Links:
Link to: Chart of 52 Disciplines
Link to: Website for Dr. Wilfred Graves Jr.

2 thoughts on “An Introduction to Spiritual Disciplines

  1. This article was a strong reinforcement of what we learned in class. This quarantine has given me time to explore my relationship with God more deeply. For me it is no coincidence that this class is being taught now right at the time when I pulled out my copy of the Spiritual Discipline Handbook. That was a wonderful class taught by Dr. Cockcroft and another book, The Short Life of Jesus, which was another Bible College class. Discipline is being intentional about making a space for deepening our relationship with God in our lives. I love that! All things work together for the good. I am excited about this spiritual journey on which I am embarking and I am grateful to the three Bible Teachers and all the members of the class. May we become more disciplined together.

    1. Thank you for these thoughtful comments and for your wonderful participation in the class. We praise the Lord for all that he is doing in your life, and for what you will accomplish for the kingdom of God.

Leave a Reply