We all remember those glorious times in elementary school when we were sitting in the same old classroom with the same old teacher, next to the same old people, and suddenly, the sound of joy: the fire alarm.
Oh, how I loved fire drills. Class stopped and everyone gathered outside on the playground with the warm sun on our faces. I cherished every moment of this interruption of routine, but what I didn’t know was how very important it was.
Practicing for an emergency is very, very important because when a real catastrophe happens, you will do whatever you have been trained to do. Spiritual disciplines are the fire drills of our spiritual life. We really need them in order to be prepared for our future.
Fasting is a concept that can seem quite tortuous and strict. A great teacher, Bill Bright, explained that one good reason for fasting from food is that it puts us in a state of uneasiness. We find ourselves hungry. When we’re hungry, we’re grouchy. When we’re grouchy, we can’t rely on our emotions. We must choose to be patient. We must choose to be kind. What great preparation for when we are in real times of trouble because we already know what it feels like to choose patience and kindness!
To get started, pick a day and wait until dinner to eat. It will be hard. It will be a little miserable, but whenever your stomach growls or you think about eating, pray. It will be eye-opening.
Don’t just read through the Bible—meditate on it. Tuck it into your heart. Have it there, ready at any moment. You will find yourself in times of struggle when you don’t have your Bible with you. Your phone is dead, so you don’t have your Bible app. The only thing you can rely on is the scriptures that are hidden there in your heart.
Pick a small passage that means a lot to you and read it every day. Ask God to cement it into your heart. Ask Him to reveal something new to you. He will.
How many times do you talk to your best friend every day? How many texts go back and forth? Facebook messages? Snapchats? How many times do you talk to God every day? How do you expect to find yourself in a close, loving relationship with God if you only talk to Him when you need something? How would you feel if someone only came to you when they needed something?
Talk to Him all the time. But also, don’t forget to listen. Conversations go both ways and God wants to speak to you.
Author Richard Foster says, “Discipline brings freedom.” This is true because when we know how to act in times of trial, when have the Word tucked in our heart, when Jesus is our best friend, that is when we are free to choose to live as we want to live and be who we want to be. That is freedom.