Practice Has Purpose

by Joanna Pierce on January 10, 2019

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you (Philippians 4:9, KJV).

The Purpose of Our Practice

In our walk with God, we’re commanded to exercise godliness. No matter what we do, we must maintain our walk with God and train ourselves to be like Him (I Timothy 4:7-9). The Christian concept of training and discipline is not like an athlete’s. Prayer is our exercise; reading the Word of God is our discipline. Spiritual training activities all help us move closer to our ultimate destination—godliness.

To be godly, we live like God wants us to live: think the way He wants us to think; act the way He wants us to act; work the way He wants us to work; raise our children the way He wants us to raise them. This all plays into our training and practice, which is useful in every area of our life. It holds a promise to us in our present life and the life to come.

Our View of Practice

Without a purpose, our practice is meaningless. If we don’t have a reason or focus, practice can become a ritual, mundane, or ritualistic. This can create a skewed vision of Jesus and our relationship with Him. It’s important to remember; however, that while we can become overwhelmed by the duty of practice, we’re re-energized with purpose. When we face day-to-day challenges and other trials on a regular basis, we don’t need to feel cast down or burdened. Paul noted in his trials, he kept focusing on the purpose of his practice (trials), which was to allow the life of Jesus to be evident. Our body must die (through practice) so Jesus can be manifested (II Corinthians 4:11). We must see spiritual disciplines and practice as a means to our life and not an end.

Practice Prepares Us

Any present inconvenience is always worth the future result when it comes to spiritual discipline. What we give now will be worth what we get later. When we pray, read the Word, and fast, sometimes it doesn’t “feel” like it’s helping us, but it really is. Paul told the church to keep looking forward as he noted the sufferings of this present time aren’t worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

What Practices Prepares You For

Practice Studying the Word Prepares Us to Apply It

When we study the Word of God, we will have answers when we need them. As we live our day-to-day lives, we need to think and act in accordance with God. In the moment, we need stored-up knowledge from the Word of God to make godly decisions. This is why Paul admonished Timothy to study to show himself approved unto God (II Timothy 2:15). The Psalmist hid the Word of God in his heart so he wouldn’t sin (Psalms 119:11). The Word (hid in our hearts through previous study) can help us stay in godly practice. Remember, the Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths (Psalms 110:105).

Practice Worship Prepares Us for Intimacy with God

Worship should invade the life of every believer. Church services are ideal times to practice our worship to God to help transform the rest of our lives into an act of constant worship to the King of kings and Lord of lords. We’re commanded in Scripture to bless and praise the Lord at all times (Psalms 34:1). Because of this point, every service becomes a training session to worship and draw closer to the presence of God. This is ultimately the purpose of our worship—closeness and intimacy with Him. We cannot go through the motions in our worship. We must remember who we’re worshipping and who we’re trying to develop a relationship with. It’s the God of the universe Who knows our name and wants an up-close, personal relationship with us.

Practice Prayer Prepares Us to Hear from God

Best friends communicate with each other all of the time. We desire to hear from one another and find it difficult to go without speaking. The same holds true for our relationship with God, who is the greatest Friend we’ll ever have. We cannot go lengths of time without communicating with Him. Our avenue for communication is through prayer. This is why Scripture tells us that our prayer is God’s delight (Proverbs 15:8). He will always hear the prayer of the righteous (Proverbs 15:16), and our effectual prayers avail much (James 5:16). When we take time to pray and talk with God, He’ll talk back. The more we pray, the more familiar we become with His voice, and the easier it will become to hear Him. We may not be the best at prayer, knowing the right things to say, but the more we practice the easier it will becomes and the better we’ll be at it!

Practice Fasting Prepares Us for Spiritual Insight, Clarity, and Authority

Scripture tells us that fasting humbles the soul (Psalms 35:13Psalms 69:10). To most, fasting is the most unwelcome spiritual practice for the human flesh, but the hardest discipline is the one with the greatest results. In Scripture, Daniel modeled a life of fasting. At the end of his 21-day fast, God sent him a vision which provided revelation and insight (Daniel 10:1–3). It could not have come unless Daniel practiced fasting in his spiritual regimen. Scripture also teaches that when we fast, we can have spiritual authority when we need it. Some things won’t go out (or be accomplished) except by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21).

Practice Fellowship Prepares Us for Times When We Need Spiritual Support

God desires for His people fellowship with one another. One of the purposes of the church is to lift up and edify the members of the Body of Christ. However, fellowship with the church is more than being in the same room with people. It’s the spiritual result of the Holy Ghost working in our lives. The early church convened in fellowship with each other without instruction and saw great growth to the church (Acts 2:41–42). But, not only that, they built a strong network/community of faith and support. When we fellowship with the church, we share ourselves with our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we share and support others, the church will be there to support us when we need it in the future.

Spiritual Training Can Get Lost in Transition

In the process of practicing, we can’t make practice the competition. As we transition from the old man into the new man, we must watch out so we don’t get lost. Spiritual training isn’t done so we can become professional spiritual trainers but so that we become godly. Spiritual training transitions a fleshly person to a godly person. Let’s not get so caught up in spiritual disciplines that we forget the ultimate purpose of those disciplines.

Scripture gives us an example of a Pharisee who got too caught up in spiritual disciplines and lost sight of the true purpose. When he came to pray at the temple, he focused on thanking God for his righteousness in comparison to the publican (tax collector) who also came (Luke 18:10–14). He had lost focus of what living for God was all about. When spiritual discipline becomes more about us than God, it is dangerous for our souls. Humility is the only thing that will keep us close to Jesus in practicing our walk with Him. The publican was aware of the great distance between himself and God. When we view our spiritual status in comparison to Jesus only, we will keep the correct focus of our spiritual training and disciplines. While the Pharisee heard the call of competition, the publican heard the call of Jesus.

Closing

Paul ended his discourse to Timothy stating a pivotal truth: this saying was worthy of all acceptation (I Timothy 4:9). The instructions he gave for spiritual training and practice work; they work for everyone and they apply to everyone. Let’s desire to practice together and practice on purpose.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on January 9, 2019 with Pastor Nave