Why is it that although some believers take the
disciplines of grace seriously in their lives, yet they seem
to sink into spiritual doldrums and despondency. Their
prayers become a struggle; their worship of God does not
seem satisfying; the time spent in Bible reading and
study appears unexciting and dreary; their spiritual life
and witness become ‘dry’ and ineffective.

Among many reasons, one notable one is that the
spiritual disciplines have become mere routines. A
routine is something we undertake to maintain a status
quo; it does not change or improve anything – it just
allows the situation to remain as it is. A routine requires
only a minimal effort and it does not demand any

A discipline, on the other hand, requires a great
deal of effort and exertion. We may need to push our
physical bodies, stretch our minds and exert ourselves to
take on new responsibilities or change habits or a
lifestyle. Certainly, a discipline requires an investment of
time and a choice of priorities. Some things need to be
given up in order to realize the goal of that particular
discipline. This is also true for spiritual discipline.

The outcome of genuine spiritual disciplines is
becoming more and more like Jesus. It may not take
place suddenly or quickly; it may be gradual but it is
definitely moving forward towards the goal of
transformation into the image of the Master.
We must not allow our spiritual disciplines to
degenerate into mere routines in our lives. This occurs
when we are not prepared to invest the amount of time
required or when we approach such disciplines with the
wrong motivation. What are some of the wrong
motivations that contribute to our disciplines
degenerating into routines?

We carry out our spiritual disciplines grudgingly,
begrudging the time set aside to be with the Lord, doing
these exercises just to assure ourselves that we are good
Christians. It is basically fulfilling our quota of
‘disciplines’ in order to feel good about ourselves and to
think ourselves better than some other believers who
hardly carry out any disciplines.

We embark on certain disciplines in order to look
for something to teach someone else so that others may
be impressed with our knowledge and spiritual standing.
This may take place when we are assigned to lead a
Bible study, for instance. We may also enter into these
disciplines to discover how somebody else is wrong
about a certain doctrine or teaching.

We must not forget that the disciplines of grace are
given so that we may enter into an intensive encounter
with God; they are to help us to meet with God, to
worship Him, to commune with Him, to learn from Him
and to grow to be like Him. As such, the outworking
requires our undivided attention, and we need to ensure
that distractions and disruption are kept to a minimum.
God’s Word and God’s Spirit can powerfully work in
our lives when we are willing to wait upon the Lord, to
listen carefully for His prompting and to long for His
ministry and life.

The right motivations would ensure that such a
conducive environment is created and maintained for
wholesome growth in the process of spiritual formation.
Unless and until believers appreciate the need to work
hard (in dependence on God) in giving priority, time and
devotion to communion with God and the nurturing of
our relationship with the Holy One, personally and
corporately, the making of disciples, spiritual formation
and transformation will not be realized. God’s children
will remain as babes in Christ, tossed to and fro by every
wind of doctrine, easily impressed by signs and wonders
(which the evil one also performs) and led to pursue
emotional experiences and fleshly desires in the name of


At the church level, even though some
congregations implemented small group training
sessions, introduced discipling programmes and gospel
equipping training, yet initial enthusiasm soon faded and
they were back to square one, with little progress in
ministry and in the process of spiritual formation.
We need to be mindful of what the Lord Jesus said
in Acts 1:8:
“…But you will receive power when the Holy
Spirit comes on you; and you will be my
witnesses, in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and
Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”

The Great Commission is the Lord’s instruction to
the Church but the instruction is to be carried out with
the power of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual empowerment is
needed to make disciples of all nations. Saturating God’s
people with methods and equipping them with concepts
and theories of ministry without empowerment of the
Spirit will not help them in the process of discipleship
and disciple making.

What is perhaps more needful for God’s people is
empowerment to live daily lives victoriously, in homes,
in schools, in the workplace and in the market place. We
need the Spirit’s enabling to use the rather insignificant
things in the daily routines of life to accomplish
significant things for God. Empowerment for daily living
in the context where people live and work is needful
before they are sent into the world. When God’s people
are easily discouraged, spiritually depressed and defeated
in the daily routines of life, how will they fare in
ministry and spiritual warfare?