If I were to ask you to think about spiritual disciplines, I imagine a common image would quickly come to mind. It would probably involve early morning bible reading, time alone in prayer, and perhaps other disciplines such as bible memorization, journaling, and fasting. In any case, I suspect one thing would almost certainly be true about your mental image of spiritual disciplines: you probably imagine yourself doing all these things by yourself.

            We often read the Bible as if it were written to us as individuals, but the reality is that no book of the Bible was originally written with the individual in mind. Even Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus would have been publicly read in churches. Whenever we come to Scripture, we should understand that all of its commands and exhortations apply to us first as a part of the Church before they apply to us as individuals. We live in a highly individualistic culture, but the more we understand Scripture, the more we find that the Bible is not nearly as individualistic as we often assume.

            Another important question to consider is this—what is the purpose of spiritual disciplines? So many of us approach these disciplines with a sense of obligation, guilt, and dread. When we succeed in being disciplined, we feel like God must be pleased with us. When we fail to be disciplined, we fear that God must be disappointed in us. We drag ourselves out of bed to read our Bibles and pray because we feel like we need to prove that we are worthy of the grace we have been given and because we want to avoid our Father’s disappointment. But is that really the purpose of spiritual disciplines? I would argue absolutely not, especially when considered them in light of the corporate, community-driven orientation of Scripture, In fact, Scripture clearly teaches that our sanctification is not for our own benefit—our sanctification is for the benefit of others.

            “God does not need your good works, but your neighbour does.” This quote has been famously attributed to Martin Luther and gets to the heart of how we should understand spiritual disciplines in light of the teaching of Scripture. Why do we seek to grow in knowledge of God’s word? Why do we seek to be faithful in prayer? Not to obtain God’s favour; that has already been freely given to us in the Gospel. Instead, we seek to be faithful so that we can be better equipped to love and serve others, both inside and outside the church. We do not grow in godliness so that God will be pleased with us; we grow in godliness so that we can more effectively love and serve those whom God has placed in our lives.

            And so, as we consider spiritual disciplines in light of the community of faith over the next two months, may we all seek to grow in our discipline that we might be a blessing to everyone around us!

All the best,


Prepare your heart for Sunday by reading the passage and listening to the songs we’ll sing.