Spiritual Hygiene

I have to shower every day. Sometimes I’m not able to, but for the most part at some point in the day I shower. If I don’t get a shower, I walk around feeling disgusting. I don’t want people to see me, I don’t want to go in public, I don’t feel good about myself.

I have to remind myself to brush my teeth. Yes, I know that’s disgusting. I don’t know what it is about dental hygiene, but I abhor it. It might be the mint flavor. I’m not a fan of mint. I like having clean teeth. I don’t like cavities or root canals, but still it’s something I don’t do automatically. It’s a discipline I have to force myself to do.

There are spiritual disciplines that fall in either of these categories for me. Journaling is something I love to do. If I go a couple of days without processing my thoughts and feelings through writing I feel greasy and gross. I need to cleanse myself of the buildup in my mind by writing it out.

I don’t always remember to read my Bible. That’s like brushing my teeth for me. I want to spend time in the Word consistently. I know how good it is for me and that neglecting it for a long period of time can result in spiritual root canal. But it’s hard. It’s not automatic.

What spiritual disciplines come easily to you,

and what others do you need to force yourself to keep up with?

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22 thoughts on “Spiritual Hygiene

  1. i had to change my perspective on bible reading. i grew up in a southern baptist church that said if you weren’t praying and reading your bible every day then you were out of the will of god. i do not believe that is true. so for a while i chose not to do either of those things. now i spend time with god- daily. in different ways. but i now desire to read the bible like i desire to read a good book. i seek the bible for wisdom on the regular but i refuse to allow a “daily” demand for it. it becomes mundane and something to check off my to-do list when i do that (not saying that’s what you are doing). but right now i am reading in Acts- its so encouraging to see how the first church came together and lived in community. LOVE it!
    and as always- love your post.

    • That’s so encouraging, Melissa. I think you’re so right about it being a change in perspective. The funny thing is that when I make time to sit down with the Bible, and am intentional about making it a connection with God (and not a task to complete), I realize how “alive” the Word of God is. Verses that I have read 1000s of times before bring clarity, refreshment and encouragement in times when I’m feeling dry. God is so good, and His Word is so powerful! I really love what you said about finding encouragement in the community of the Acts church. It is something Josh and I are very passionate about!

  2. Great post – it has really caused me to stop and think. I’ve been at home this morning – makes a real change as I’m usually whizzing about every morning with my son, but he doesn’t feel well so didn’t want to go to playgroup today. I have been able to get some chores done (always makes me feel better to get things under my belt)!, but also think about spiritual discipline in a broader sense, as well as think about my answer to your question. I would say worship is the thing that comes easiest to me – it is part of who I am (I lead worship, play keyboard and sing) so it flows out of my being very easily every day. But prayer is something I’m not as good at as I thought I was! I have got the chatting to my heavenly father throughout the day down to a tee, although if I’m honest I don’t often seem to get the time – or make the time – to sit down and listen for a response! But corporate prayer is harder. I can sit down with a group of people and comfortably pray, but I’m not a prayer warrior by any stretch of the imagination! I recently went to a prayer and fasting conference over two days – it was so inspiring to be with hundreds of other leaders worshipping and praying (a real privilege being able to stay away overnight – thanks to my parents looking after the kids). I thought I would find the freedom really exciting and, while it was great to be there, I ran out of steam an awful lot more quickly than I expected. I was a little ashamed frankly. You could argue that it was the lack of food, but if I’m honest I know I would have run out of steam anyway! And fasting is another discipline I haven’t been that great at. I have been really challenged by this recently. When our church started calling people to really seek God and fast and pray together on a particular day each term I was pregnant. I simply couldn’t go without regular food as I was so ill in my pregnancies. But I also haven’t gone without more than one meal since because I get so light headed I don’t feel in control of myself enough to look after the kids. Okay yes it is a great way of focusing your whole being on God, but when you are rushing around after kids it is pretty difficult. But I’m not under law so I have been content to work within the parameters I set myself. Going to the conference really gave me a chance to extend my experience of this discipline – but I didn’t find it very easy! It made me realise I don’t flex my spiritual muscles very much. It may be due to tiredness, having kids etc but those things can really become excuses. As a leader’s wife and worship leader, I find I can step out more easily with spiritual gifts etc within a meeting setting, but there are plenty of other disciplines I really need to work on. Thanks for prompting me to examine myself!

    • Sorry to hear you son isn’t feeling well, Claire. Praying he is healthy again soon!

      Worship is one way that I totally connect with God! I love how worship and an infilling of the Holy Spirit go hand-in-hand so often in Scripture. Ephesians 5 talks about being filled to overflowing by the spirit, and then goes on to talk about hymns and verses. There is so much power in music, and lifting our voices to God!

      I thought it was interesting how you mentioned “chatting with God” but not taking the time to sit and listen…that struck a chord with me…and I’m going to have to really think about it as it relates to my own life.

      Thanks for sharing, Claire!

  3. For me it’s prayer. I know I need it, am glad when I do it, but am not regular in doing so. I try, and Miller’s book “The Praying Life” was so helpful, but still got a ways to go!

    • I just posted this quote from C.S. Lewis on my Facebook page: “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God – it changes me.”

      I love it, because it’s such a powerful reminder of what the intent of spiritual discipline is — to change us. We’re not trying to earn God’s approval or our own salvation. I also have a hard time with prayer (the listening part, not the talking). I’ll have to check out that book, Danielle.

  4. I’m half with you on the teeth brushing. Mornings are easy because of my routine. I don’t have a bed time routine so I have to force myself to brush.

    Reading the Bible is a discipline that I suck at. I like meditating on specific scriptures but I know that’s not enough. It’s not about getting all legalistic about it. I just need to do it because, like you said, it’s good for me body! :)

    Great stuff, friend!

    • Legalism…that’s a fine line for me. I’m uber task-oriented and having a goal usually distracts me from connecting with God. Easily I can take the healthy spiritual discipline of memorizing scripture so that the Holy Spirit can use it for fruit in my life, and morph it into a challenge to prove that I’m better than others. And…bedtime brushing is harder because there’s no one to impress (my poor husband

  5. “Talking” to God comes easily to me but actually sitting down and “communing” with the Lord is harder. I have to be very intentional about it. I want to, and must make it a priority.

  6. Wait, isn’t your mom a dental hygienist? This may have something to do with your disdain for oral hygiene. LOL

    Such a good post, girl. Spiritual discipline that I’m good at is being plugged in with others, accountability, etc through things like going to church, being part of a small group, and talking to my bff constantly about all things faith related.

    I def neglect the Bible reading. I’m good at doing a Bible study, but not straight Bible readying. :(

    • Haha! Yes! But she became a dental hygienist after I moved out of her house. I really think it comes down to my hatred of mint. :)

      I with you on the plugged in, accountability thing! I love that as well.

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  8. I’ve struggled a lot more this year w/spiritual disciplines that – to me – have come easy for years. It’s weird. It’s been a struggle to sit down and prayer journal and read the bible sometimes. Or pray. Any of them, it has just been more difficult.

    And I think John’s struggle with the church and reluctance to go has started to leak into my life… we desperately need to be in community – connected community. I get it at work because I’m FT ministry, but would love to find some place together to get that…

    So… all around kind of struggling w/the disciplines this year :)

    • Community…such a powerful word. Especially with what you’re walking through right now. I’m praying that for you as a couple, and for you personally. For what it’s worth, I’m standing strong with you in your marriage and believing.

  9. I love this. I like what Tony said about reading the Bible. If I understood him correctly, I can totally relate. It is easy for me to find (be given) a verse/passage of scripture that I feel the Lord wants to use in me and meditate on that, applying it to the areas I need to. Sitting down and reading through, on the other hand, is a discipline I need to work on. I can also relate to the need for listening prayer vs. chatting prayer. I constantly go to the Lord, and often listen for His guidance, but rarely do I just sit in his presence, waiting on him. This is another area where the Lord has an opportunity to change my character (my impatience). :-)

    • As we were studying for our licensing interview, there was a question about being filled with the Holy Spirit. They asked how we cultivate spirit-filled living, in the way that Ephesians 5:18 commands: “be being filled with the Spirit.” The exam study guide talked about intentionally quieting yourself each day before God, asking for the Holy Spirit to fill your heart and mind as you go about your day. I think there’s something to be said for inviting God into our life, instead of just expecting Him to tag-along. :) I have the same difficulty with this, Haley. Haha!

  10. I keep my toothbrush and toothpaste in the shower, or I forget, too. I also have a couple of disposable toothbrushes in my purse just in case. I hate when I go somewhere and realize my teeth feel furry. Why don’t you just get cinnamon toothpaste? :P

    • I don’t buy cinnamon because it’s never on sale. And, the kids & Josh don’t like it. The sacrifices me make for those we love. ;)

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