“Just a Closer Walk with Thee”: Spiritual Disciplines for Devotional Vitality

Lesson series 1998
Tags: Spiritual disciplines
Related Resources: The Disciplines of the Christian Life


The Discipline of Prayer
The Discipline of Public Worship
The Discipline of Meditation
The Discipline of Bible Study
The Discipline of Devotional Bible Reading
The Discipline of Fasting
The Discipline of Private Worship
The Discipline of Esthetic Appreciation
The Discipline of Christian Fellowship
Further Reading


This lesson series has four main purposes:

  • To teach the participants basic truths concerning fellowship with God;
  • To acquaint the participants with nine spiritual disciplines;
  • To involve the participants in the practice of several spiritual disciplines;
  • To motivate the participants to seek a closer relationship with God.


The Most Important Thing to Remember

The most important thing to remember about your relationship with God is that it is just that—a personal relationship with God. Your relationship won’t grow if you approach it mechanically. God is a Person to be known, loved, and worshiped.



James 4:7-10 gives us a snapshot of how our relationship with God should develop. This text reads as follows:

7      Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

8      Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded.

9      Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and [your] joy to heaviness.

10   Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

This passage commands us to draw close to God (v 8). It also mentions some specific actions and emotions that will characterize us when we are in intimate fellowship with him. These are submission (v 7), spiritual warfare (v 7), confession of sin (v 8), sorrow (v 9), and humility (v 10). The most important thing we can glean from this text is the fact that God has commanded us to draw near him. He expects the intimacy of our relationship to grow. But just how can we accomplish this lofty goal of knowing and loving God more?

Fortunately, God has designed certain activities—we’ll refer to them as disciplines—that can help us to draw closer to him. Two disciplines that come to mind readily are prayer and Bible reading. But these are just the beginning. This lesson series will actually survey nine different disciplines, and there are arguably others that won’t be covered here. The important thing to note about the disciplines is that they facilitate a relationship but they can’t substitute for it. In other words, you could spend hours going through the motions of practicing spiritual disciplines, but unless your heart is in them, you won’t be any closer to God than when you started.


The Disciplines Are Means of Sowing to the Spirit

“A farmer is helpless to grow grain; all he can do is provide the right conditions for the growing of grain. He cultivates the ground, he plants the seed, he waters the plants, and then the natural forces of the earth take over and up comes the grain. This is the way it is with the Spiritual Disciplines—they are a way of sowing to the Spirit. The Disciplines are God’s way of getting us into the ground; they put us where he can work within us and transform us. By themselves the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done. They are God’s means of grace” (Foster 7).

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Teacher's notes (12 pages)  251k v. 2 Oct 5, 2011, 10:08 PM Greg Smith