I ask students, “How’s your relationship with God going lately?” Most often, their answers come back to something like, “I need to get in the word some more.” “I had my quiet time this week every day; its doing pretty well I guess.” “I could pray some more.” None of these really answer the question I asked. None of those things are bad, in and of themselves. In fact, we are called or ‘prescribed’ to them, but for a different purpose than just making sure we get them done. We have made our focus on the discipline instead of the God the discipline was intended to bring us nearer to.
Augustine wrote, “Grant my prayer, O Lord, and do not allow my soul to wilt under the discipline which you prescribe. Let me not tire of thanking you for your mercy in rescuing me…so that I may love you most intensely.”
Disciplines are ‘prescribed’ to us by God. We are called to live a life of discipline; to celebrate it even. There is nothing wrong to be said of discipline, but it becomes dangerous once we begin celebrating the discipline instead of God. We can often get so caught up in the discipline that the most important thing is that we get the discipline accomplished on a daily, weekly, or regular basis. We are no longer actually connecting to the heart of God as was the intention of the discipline in the first place.