Call to the Inner Life
We call Salvationists worldwide to enter the new millennium with a renewal of faithful, disciplined, and persistent prayer; to study God’s word consistently and to seek God’s will earnestly; to deny self and to live a lifestyle of simplicity in a spirit of trust and thankfulness.
We affirm that the consistent cultivation of the inner life is essential for our faith life and for our fighting fitness. The disciplines of the inner life include solitude, prayer, meditation, study, and self–denial. Practicing solitude, spending time alone with God, we discover the importance of silence, learn to listen to God, and discover our true selves. Praying, we engage in a unique dialog that encompasses adoration and confession, petition and intercession. As we meditate, we attend to God’s transforming word. As we study, we train our minds towards Christlikeness, allowing the word of God to shape our thinking. Practicing self–denial, we focus on God and grow in spiritual perception. We expose how our appetites can control us, and draw closer in experience, empathy, and action to those who live with deprivation and scarcity.
“The disciplines of the inner life, when applied, help us to discover what God wants to give us and make us. They can draw us closer to him, make us more aware of him, and improve our perspective on life.”
—Called to Be God’s People
This is the yearning of many Christians. The difficulty in this equation is discipline. We discipline ourselves to bathe, to eat, to go to work or to school, and to pay our bills. Why is it difficult to discipline ourselves in the areas that speak to our inner lives, especially when we desire to be more like Christ? Could it be that we view prayer, Bible reading, and a host of other spiritual disciplines as a chore instead of as part of a loving relationship?
John 17 reveals that, long before we were born, Jesus prayed for each of us. In that scripture, Jesus prays for Himself, His disciples, and all believers. Jesus prays for “those who will believe in me through their [disciples] message, that all of them may be one” (v 20–21). Amazing!
Jesus taught the disciples how to pray. Jesus modeled prayer as He spoke to His Father, as He invited His disciples to pray in His name, as He asked Bartimeus what he wanted and then He healed him. That same resource is available to us today. May we pray for the desire to pray and to commune with the Lord.
“The Call to the Inner Life” is a call to consistently study God’s word, which will help our prayers to be grounded in the values of God. This is part of a love relationship; studying God’s word assists us to know God and His ways. This Call mentions several other disciplines, which are of benefit to our inner life. They include but are not limited to solitude, spending time alone with God; silence, listening to the Lord; self–denial, forgoing nonessentials in order to focus on the Lord; fasting, doing without to be in the presence of God; mentoring, obtaining spiritual assistance from another Christian for spiritual development; and spiritual retreats, providing a means to draw closer to God and to other people.
Why spend time developing our inner lives? We are in a love relationship where we desire to be more like Christ; the disciplines provide a means for that to take place.
For a continuation of this article including related scripture and questions, please go to www.armyonitsknees.org.
—Colonel Janice Howard is the
Territorial Secretary for
Spiritual Life Development.