A Spiritual Challenge
90 Days of Self-Discipline
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Do you ever wonder about the growing popularity of physical challenges? Sugar cleanses, special diets to purge the body, mindfulness practices, and intense exercise routines are all the rage as people try to become the best version of themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. Self-discipline is great, in my opinion, and I wonder why spiritual discipline programs aren’t more popular! I’ve just finished a 90-day spiritual challenge with a group of guys from my church. And I’d recommend it to anyone!
First, we picked a devotional to read every day for 90 days. We chose My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I’d also recommend New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp or Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.
Second, we committed to the following self-disciplines for 90 days:
Daily holy hour (read devotional, meditate on Scripture, pray)
Get a full night’s sleep each day
Fast 24 hours once a week
Have a sabbath day once a week
Meet once a week with a small group for prayer
Exercise 2-3 times per week
Take short, cold showers
Abstain from alcohol
Abstain from sweets and desserts
Abstain from snacks
Abstain from sweet drinks
No unnecessary mobile device use
No unnecessary computer use
No TV or movies
No video games
No non-essential purchases
Only listen to uplifting music
Some disciplines are easy (abstaining from alcohol, no video games). Others are quite difficult (cold showers, no unnecessary mobile device use). The point? Self-control—to “discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:27).
Someone might argue that there’s little to no spiritual value in exercising, going to bed on time, taking a cold shower, or cutting out snacks. But I disagree. Every one of those things has proven health benefits, and the healthier we are physically, the easier it is to be healthy spiritually.
Human beings are apples, not oranges.
Oranges come in segments. You can pull each segment apart from the others without hurting any of the individual segments. But apples are not segmented. They are whole. You cannot segment an apple without damaging the whole. Every part of an apple is connected, and people are the same. You cannot separate our physical health from our mental health; or our emotional health from our spiritual health. If we are emotionally unhealthy, we will be spiritually unhealthy, too. If we don’t care for ourselves physically, we’re probably not taking care of ourselves spiritually.
So, I’d encourage you to consider doing a spiritual challenge, along with whatever sugar cleanses and green smoothies you plan to drink in January. While you’re looking to your physical health, why not add a spiritual component, too?