The Spiritual Discipline of Taking a Walk
Three mornings a week, I wake up at 5:09 a.m. to head to the gym. On those mornings, I contemplate hurling my alarm clock across the room. For me, waking up that early is the opposite of fun.
But I drag my stubborn self out of bed because it’s good for me. And by the time I get to the gym, I remember why I came. Working out makes me strong and healthy. That’s the reward for discipline.
The same applies to my spiritual health. In order to grow strong and healthy in my spirit, I need the disciplines of prayer, solitude, worship, self-reflection, Bible reading, fasting and more. But the hardest part about spiritual discipline … is, well, … the discipline.
To-do lists compete with my quiet time. My task-oriented, bossy brain demands that I get to the office, instead of sitting still with Jesus. Even at church, my mind can act like an unruly child, wandering during worship songs and the sermon. And yes, there are some Sundays when I toy with the idea of skipping our local service to attend Church of Saint Mattress.
When I do follow through with my disciplines, I’m almost always glad I did. Like my time in the gym, my spiritual disciplines make me stronger in the Lord.
But in those times when I fall short?
God’s grace is still abundant. His Spirit is still at work in me – flawed, tired, distractible me.
The other morning, I skipped my usual Bible reading time, and went for a walk instead. I found God out there, in the morning breeze, under the dome of a clear blue sky. I saw my first robin. I felt spring in the air, and in my step. It was as if God were saying to me, “See kid? You’ve got to know this about Me. Even when you can’t stick with a plan, I’m disciplined enough to stick with you. Let’s go for a walk. I have some things to show you.”
Spiritual Disciplines to Nurture Your Soul
There are countless ways to nurture our relationship with God. And to be sure, the spiritual disciplines of prayer, worship and Bible reading are at the top of most lists. But let’s think outside of the box today. Here are five spiritual disciplines to strengthen your soul.
1 – The Spiritual Discipline of Taking a Walk.
God is unashamedly broadcasting His love everywhere. God knows no bounds, and worship can happen anywhere. Take a walk outside to see it. Sometimes, Jesus comes knocking when you are wholly unaware of what you’re about to encounter. I try to keep the heart-door ajar, because I don’t want to miss any miracles. God seems to favor the element of surprise, falling like dew on the skin, landing softly like a bird on a wire.
2 – The Spiritual Discipline of Thinking About Heaven.
It’s so easy for us to get wrapped up in the trials and responsibilities of today. And sometimes? We lose sight of the destination. Martin Luther once said: “There are two days on my calendar: This day and that Day.”
You can retrain your brain to focus here:
– This day. The moment you are currently in.
– And that Day. The moment when you will see God face-to-face.
Heaven is in us, even before we are in heaven. We’re learning heaven’s language here on earth, if we’re wise enough (or lucky enough) to be paying attention at the right time. Which, really, is almost any time. Heaven speaks here on earth, whispering the language of our more permanent home into every corner of our temporary one.
3 – The Spiritual Discipline of One Verse.
I love Bible Gateway’s app for my iPhone. Every morning, I read the verse of the day. Now, I don’t believe that reading a single verse is a replacement for in-depth study of passages. But I love the practice of taking one verse — so long as it’s not taken out of context — and meditating on that verse. It’s always fun to see how God uses that verse in my spirit as I go about my daily life.
4 – The Spiritual Discipline of Flexibility.
Spiritual discipline should not be a synonym for legalism. We can get so caught up in mastering our disciplines, that even those can become rote. I love switching things up. Quite often, I change the time for my daily solitude with God. I use different versions of the Bible. I do not berate myself for trading my daily Bible reading for a walk, a long talk with a friend, or a Sunday afternoon nap.
5 – The Spiritual Discipline of Testimony.
Always be prepared to give a reason for the hope you have. So it is written in 1 Peter. Be ready with your story. Be ready to tell others what God has saved you from. Your testimony can help set others free. Furthermore, be ready to listen to the testimonies of others. Listening to the stories of how God is at work in the lives of others will refresh both you and the person sharing her story.
Do you have spiritual disciplines that work for you? Do you struggle with spiritual disciplines? Do you have any tips or ideas for others? Share with us right here in the comments. If you have a blog, consider writing this week about spiritual disciplines. Then head over to TheHighCalling.org, where I’m hosting a linkup about spiritual disciplines. Link up your story in the Linky Tool. Click here to find the linkup.
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- » The Spiritual Discipline of Taking a Walk - […] Three mornings a week, I wake up at 5:09 a.m. to head to the gym. On those mornings, I…
- Jesus, the Iowa State Cyclones and the Comeback Kids | Jennifer Dukes Lee - […] confessed on the blog yesterday that my mind occasionally wanders during […]
Thanks my friend for this great reminder – both of the excellent spiritual discipline ideas – but even more so the reminder of God’s grace and that He’s gonna stick with me even though I am often absent …. and I love the Church of ST Mattress – you are an artist with words! Love it!
Thanks, Glenda! So fun to see you here in the comments!!
Love this post! Thanks Jennifer. I have been meditating on Song of Songs 2:4 all morning – ‘I sat down in his shade with great delight’, and God reminded me of the benefits of letting my soul ‘sit down’ with Him. It is more than just sitting still in the natural, it is a continual posture of the heart. Blog challenge accepted 🙂
Oh, Elrinda. This is so good. Your verse inspired me. I might use that verse in an upcoming post at incourage! Thanks for the inspiration.
I remembered that I painted a word picture based on this verse a couple of months ago – https://unexpectedsongs.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/loves-invitation-to-rest/ 🙂
“This day and that day.” I love how that goes along with one of my favorite chapters in scripture….Col 3! A discipline I have begun practicing this past year is gathering regularly in mutually nurturing friendships. It is a spiritual discipline of sorts….the slowing down….the encouraging…the speaking of truth!
I love that, Karen. I, too, have been practicing the spiritual discipline of friendship. I started a 52 Lunches self-care project this year. So far, the project has included lunches, and also dinner with friends right here in our home. It’s been thrilling, and it’s helped me regain some of the deep connection that I’d lost in the previous year due to “busy-ness.”
Hey Jennifer – Have you read Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor? In it she talks about some alternate spiritual disciplines. Aligns neatly with today’s post 🙂
I haven’t read the book yet, Randall031. But I have it on my Kindle, and I’m taking it with me on vacation this week. I’ll look forward to seeing what BBT has to say about spiritual disciplines.
The outdoors is always a place I hear HIS whispers and see HIS handiwork. Your list today is a good one.
Totally agree, Pam!
“Spiritual discipline should not be a synonym for legalism.” Just love this reminder. I’m a girl of order and often find myself getting caught up in the “how” rather than the “Who.” So glad we have a God who is everywhere and can meet us in the pages of His word and on our back porch. 🙂
I’m glad you took that walk, Jennifer. Sometimes you just need to get outside and enjoy time with the Lord there. When I read your title, I decided not to read your essay, but take a walk myself and read it afterward. The weather in St. Louis is stunning–80 degrees, sunny, and balmy. Walking often draws me closer to God, and of course, is a metaphor for our spiritual walk. When we walk, we can pray, praise, have a ringside seat (or step!) to God’s creation, and just breathe in air and life. Today, as I strolled, I listened to a talk on journaling (great discipline) which I had given at one of Mary Whelchel’s Weekend Getaways. Granted they were *my* words which I need to get in my head as I prepare for an upcoming workshop, yet they drew me to the Lord, because they were all about how journaling has transformed my life with Him! Loved your post, and love you.
PS 5:09?! I don’t even want to comment on the disciplined specificity of the hour! 🙂
For me, there is nothing sweeter than enjoying God’s presence outdoors. Whether walking or sitting and taking in its beauty, it’s what makes me feel most connected to Him.
I have been working on writing about my discipline of personal retreat since checking into a local hotel for 48 hours last weekend. So many women are flabbergasted I make intentional time to go away alone at least every three months. I’ve found this time of solitude essential to my walk with God. Adele Calhoun’s “Spiritual Disciplines Handbook” has beautiful chapters addressing many healthy disciplines. I recommend it highly! Here’s just a little taste of her thoughts on retreat: “Solitude is a discipline that gets behind those feelings to who we are when we feel invisible and unrecognized. Who are we when productivity and recognition fall away and God is the only one watching us? Some of us simply seem to lose our sense of self when there is no one to mirror back who we are. Without the oxygen of doing and the mirror of approval, our feelings of being real and important evaporate. Hollow places open up in our heart, and our soul feels empty and bare. We can feel agitated, scattered, and distracted. These disconcerting feelings do two things for us. They reveal how much of our identity is embedded in a false sense of self. And they show us how easy it is to avoid solitude because we dislike being unproductive and unapplauded. But we need solitude if we intend to unmask the false self and its important-looking image. Alone, without distractions, we put ourselves in a place where God can reveal things to us that we might not notice in the normal preoccupations of life.” Sound familiar? It is most often on these personal retreats I am reminded I am “Preapproved!” I’d love to take a walk with you someday, friend.
Love finding God in the outdoors! Yes, sometimes I’m not as disciplined in my Bible reading and prayer as I should be, but like you said, God can show us Himself whenever He chooses. Thank goodness for that! Blessings, Jennifer!
Jennifer, two years ago in January I read Laura Barkat’s book ‘God in the Yard’ about sitting outside with Jesus for 12 weeks. Well, not 12 weeks. A specific time each day for 12 weeks….. I had never heard the phrase ‘spiritual discipline’ as I am a Charismatic Protestant and liturgy/ritual/discipline kinds of things are not (were not) in our vocabulary (to our detriment) I might add.
At any rate, the book changed my life. I couldn’t do every day but I could do an hour once or twice a week, so my 12 weeks turned into about 7 months. I was amazed–the ‘discipline’ part was the framework of time and place and space I gave Jesus to speak to me. What I did NOT do was take out my Bible and my journal and read Scripture as if I was studying it and make notes.
I just had Laura’s book and used her prompts and EXPECTED the Holy Spirit to speak to me.
And He did, in amazing ways. My writing changed, they way I listen to Jesus changed and the way I LOOK at things changed.
All that to say, I echo your 5 disciplines above with a hearty ‘amen.’ We do need to make space and time and find a place to listen. And that takes discipline.
Jennifer, Thanks for this really great post. I also workout at the local Crossfit gym. It is interesting how much value we place on our physical well-being and the disciplines necessary to make and keep ourselves physically fit. I suppose the benefits are more tangible and immediate than the benefits of spiritual disciplines. But, both are so important. Blessings!
hi jennifer,for me.there is nothing sweeter than enjoying jesus christ preseence out doors whether waking or sitting and taking in its beauty,it,s what makes me feelmost connect tohim.pastor samuel.and my doughter debbie.