When it comes to the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, prayer, corporate worship, etc., we should approach them (H.I.T.) them with the following three characteristics: humility, intentionality, and teachability. I’ll use the discipline of corporate worship as an example.
Too often, we approach corporate worship as an American consumer rather than a follower of Jesus. One time, when someone was looking (shopping?) for a church, she visited two or three times, then sent me an email listing off seven things she was looking for in a church. None of them had to do with the preaching of the Word, but the rest of them had to do with style of music, dress of the congregants, whether we preached from their preferred translation of the Bible, among other matters.
This fosters pride: “I want this church to meet all my preferences, then I’ll consider joining you.” Why not say, dear Christian, “Lord, I will see what you have in mind for a church. What does the Bible say? The preaching of the Word, the observing of ordinances, discipling each other, sharing Jesus with the lost. Very well, Lord! I will pursue these things.” What? No coffee bar? “What’s wrong with coffee bars?” When coffee bars and bells and whistles become ends in and of themselves, rather than conduits to help connect people to Christ and His church, we have drifted missionally. Submit to what Christ asks of His church without negotiation. When other items are negotiable, ask, “Is this helping us be, make, multiply, and send disciples of Jesus?”
Do we engage in our Bible reading plan simply to get through our assigned reading? Do we come to church out of habit in order to check that off our list of things to do, so we can move on? Do we pray, peeking at our watch to see when our time is up in 3… 2… 1? When we read, pray, and worship with intentionality, we do so by being “trained for war,” equipped to fight the fight of faith. How important is it for us to engage in a 40-Day New Testament Challenge? Very! But are we prayerfully engaged, or are we multi-tasking (say, reading while the TV is on, or listening to it while washing dishes or writing something else)? Come to the Scriptures, prayer, worship with an intentionality of knowing more of who God is, what He has done, and what He aims to do through you.
I’ve been a Christian since the age of 10 (I’ll be 47 in a few weeks). Having been raised in church, graduated from both a Christian college and seminary, the temptation is for us to be experts because we already know everything about the arc of Scripture. We lose our teachability. We love to teach and (again) be the expert in the room. But have you noticed that when God gives you a teachable heart, He shows you new things about Himself and yourself, even though His Word and work have not changed? Do you come to Christ in worship, prayer, and Scripture ready to learn, or just to affirm where you already ‘are’ in your walk?