My tomato plant has not been very prolific. Although it is the end of August, I have harvested only two tomatoes. Its growth was stunted early this summer when the temperature dropped overnight freezing parts of the vine. I cut away the damaged vine but lost a lot of flowers which would have eventually become tomatoes.
Although it is a little late in the season, I did some research on successfully growing tomatoes and read: “Harvesting a very large tomato yield means that I did a lot of things right during the growing season.” 1
This leads me to believe I may have done a lot of things wrong. I uncover a few. Tomatoes are nutrient hungry and must be fed correctly. Also, the right amount of water is key, and tomatoes should only be watered when they need it. I have not fertilized my plant, nor do I check to see if the soil has dried out before watering. My routine is to water nightly.
Just as haphazard gardening does not make a tomato plant prolific, an arbitrary approach to Christian growth will not make us fruitful either. How do we grow as a Christian? Here are five Christian disciplines, four of which I know well and one I am learning.
1-Read through the Bible
I always read the Bible, but I did not always read through the Bible. I find I understand Scripture better if I have the full counsel of God, not just bits and pieces. I once saw a social media post where the author stated she had learned so much more by studying books of the Bible throughout the year rather than reading through the Bible. I think both are important.
The best way I have found to read through the Bible is to choose a reading system that breaks the Bible into sections allowing you to read parts of the Old Testament and New Testament as well as the Psalms and/or Proverbs daily.
You can buy a One Year Bible with the breakout sections grouped together or find a plan, many Christian organizations and churches make them available. The Navigators, for example, have a reading plan that features four separate places in the Scripture every day. Another plan breaks the Bible into a book at a time. (You will find these at navigaors.org.)
2-Complete Bible studies
One year the church I attended announced the start of a men’s and women’s Bible studies. We would meet for teaching and then break into small groups to discuss the answers we had written to the questions in our workbook about the book of the Bible we studied. The first book we studied was Nehemiah and when the study ended, we would start anew on another book.
Digging deep into Nehemiah changed me. I became a servant of the Lord through this study. Thereafter, every study I have completed has changed me in some way shaping me into the image of Christ.
3-Allow time for prayer
I love the verse in the song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” that states “O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.”
Here’s a simple definition of prayer from GotQuestions.org: “Prayer is “talking to God.” It is not meditation or passive reflection; it is direct address to God. It is the communication of the human soul with the Lord who created the soul. Prayer is the primary way for the believer in Jesus Christ to communicate his emotions and desires with God and to fellowship with God.”
I discuss everything with God. My work, my service, the relationships I have with people, emotional and physical issues, and my desire for the proper application of His Word. Also, I intercede on behalf of others.
Years ago, I created a prayer journal which is broken into five sections: Praise, Admit, Requests, Listening, and Thanks.
Praise acknowledges God for his character. I like to focus on the names of God and created a little flip chart by laminating each name and hooking it to mini aluminum carabiner, those clips you use on backpacks which are found in the camping section of stores. The names read thus: Living God, El Chay. He alone is the source of our life. We live because he lives.
Other people read through the Psalms or read praise devotionals.
Admit is asking the Holy Spirit to help us recall anything that is not of God so we can address it before it takes root in our heart, such as bitterness and unforgiveness. Psalm 139:23-24 are good verses to bring to God in prayer for insight and revelation.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” [NLT]
Requests are those prayer needs that come to us regularly though prayer chains, friends, church, social media etc. Write them down and pray over them until there is resolution.
Listening is the portion of prayer when we take time to hear God speak. Frequently He will speak through Scripture so we need to be listening for answers to prayer during our time of Bible reading.
Thanks is just that, remembering to be grateful for the answers God gives which are often unexpected.
Knowing Scripture is beneficial in all areas of life. It helps with relationships, gives direction, provides strength, envelopes us in comfort, takes away anxiety, removes shame, and humbles us when we need it.
I wish I had more Scripture written on my heart, but I do thank God for Google for when I can’t remember an exact verse a few key words delivered to this search engine often helps me find it.
These tips come from Samaritan’s Purse. 1-Read the verse out loud. 2-Think of illustrations or practical examples applicable to the verse. 3-Say the verse several times. 4-Review the verse on the day it is learned and several times throughout the week.
5-Meditate on Scripture
This is the new discipline I have begun to study, and you are invited to join me. I will be emailing a verse to meditate upon every Monday morning to subscribers [fill in the form at the end of this blog to become a subscriber] along with an informational sheet that you can download. The first sheet defines Biblical meditation.
I did not know very much about God or have much Biblical knowledge when my heart opened to Jesus Christ and I walked into His presence. It probably wouldn’t have made much difference if I had known more because I did not have the Holy Spirit to provide the insight and understanding. I had not yet experienced spiritual birth, only physical birth, therefore I was not born again.
However, once I was born again, I found the church where I belonged and attended regularly. Not just the church service but the Bible studies offered where I could grow in knowledge and application.
God is faithful. He knows what we need and when we need it and continues to help us grow. It is a never-ending process and I think it will continue into eternity.
1-In what ways has God helped you grow since Jesus Christ became your Lord and Savior?
2-What is your best Bible reading method? Do you read the Bible through every year, if so, what plan do you use?
1-All About Gardening, “15 Tips for Growing Great Garden Tomatoes” by Merideth Cohrs. Allaboutgardening.com.
NOTE: If you would like to explore Biblical meditation with me subscribe to this blog so you will receive my emails.
©2022 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved
2 thoughts on “5 Disciplines to Try for Christian Growth”
Love your spiritual disciplines. Thank you for your encouragement here. I read through the Bible, memorize, and meditate upon Scripture and it is so wonderful. We planted Beef Steak tomatoes and Romas this year – only one beef steak but we are having a nice harvest of the Romas.
So glad to hear your Bible meditation is a blessing. I am just starting to purposely choose Scripture to contemplate on a regular basis. I have however done this with certain passages in the past especially during trying times.