Spiritual disciplines at a set time of day are a wonderful practice as long as it affects the rest of your days. Spiritual disciplines and habits are vital for growth in godliness. And the key word there is growth. The point of the disciplines is the advancement of Christlikeness, godliness, piety, and spiritual formation in all of life for the glory of God.
I’m a fan of waking up early, grinding 18 grams of a light roasted micro-lot coffee for a pour-over, lighting my cedar candle, cracking open the Scriptures, and reading, underling, meditating, highlighting, journaling, and praying. I commune with the living God at this time. But I also want to raise a big caution.
Jumper Cable Devotions
We must avoid jumper cable Christianity.
We use jumper cables when our car’s battery is depleted, dead, and in need of a jump from another battery to get going. We connect jumper cables to another car, get some juice, and then go about our day and way. I fear far too many of us approach “abiding” in Christ this way. We do some Bible reading, read a devotional book, get some spiritual voltage and roll out. Jumper Cable Jesus doesn't exist.
In John 15, when Jesus calls us to abide in him, it means to make our home in him, to make our abode in him. He is calling us to realize and live from the vital and vibrant connection to him for all spiritual life—for all of life. He is how we bear much fruit.
Abiding not Jumping
When Jesus uses the metaphor of vine and branches and fruit (John 15:4–5), he says that he is the vine, our source, and we are the branches connected to him, drawing from him, living because of him. Abiding is not a jump or jolt for the day. It’s life.
Branches do more than meet with the vine for 30 minutes in the morning and then branch off to go about their day. Branches abide. Branches remain connected. Branches continue to receive sap, life, and nutrients from the vine. There is a vine-branch life. So, here’s the point for our spirituality:
Jesus is calling us to more than a singular morning meeting. I love meeting with Jesus in the morning, and I love talking to him later in the day too. I need him, think about him, recall his word, obey him, and ask him for help. Over time, our times with him are meant to form the rest of our days, situations, decisions, reflexes, and desires.
Our Lord is not calling us to establish a spiritual habit where he is then forgotten the rest of the day—not loved, not worshiped, not meditated on, not thought of, not talked to, and not obeyed. Jesus is inviting us to an ongoing, thrilling life with him. The Christian life is, well, life, not just the morning.
We can’t abandon the personal intake of the Scriptures, praying to God, meditation on the word, fasting, and other disciplines. I preached a sermon recently at Storyline Church on the importance of biblical meditation. So, don’t hear me saying the disciplines are negotiable. The importance of the disciplines remains, but we can abandon jumper cable Christianity. Let's keep our set times—and keep abiding too.