In 1 Timothy chapter 4, Paul says, “train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (verses 7b-8) We typically don’t think of our spiritual life as “training.” We would much rather think of it as something that just happens to us. But in this passage, the apostle Paul shows us that even though we may be saved by grace through faith, God is preparing us for something.
Training is not a quick process. It requires discipline and patience. While we may at times see sudden bursts of growth in a specific area, it is often a slow, steady process. Our spiritual growth is much the same. God is reminding us of this in 1 Timothy 4:7-8 because He wants us to keep our eyes on the goal, and not to become discouraged. Those spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, fasting, service, Scripture memory, stewardship, etc have value beyond what we may realize. In fact, he says it has value in the “life to come.” While it is important to take care of our body, it is even more important to care for our soul. Make sure you are training yourself for godliness this semester.
Where do you start? Well, if you were going to train for a marathon, you wouldn’t try to run the entire length of the course on your first try, right? You start by running only a fraction of that distance. In our spiritual life, if you’re not doing any of these disciplines listed above, I wouldn’t recommend starting them all at one time. Focus on one or two. Prayer and Bible study would be the best place to start. Start by spending a few minutes at a time practicing each. As you begin to make those a part of your daily training and routine, add a few more minutes. Then, as you spend time with God through prayer and Bible reading, He will show you the importance of other spiritual disciplines such as fasting, stewardship, service, and so on. Years from now, you will never regret the time that you spent in God’s Word, in prayer, or anything else that strengthened your walk with God.