Day 5: Recap
In this final video, David Mathis recaps our journey thus far, offering a few parting tips aimed at helping you cultivate sustainable, life-giving habits of grace that connect you to God's grace each and every day while fitting into your current season of life.
Before moving on from this short study, capture a few, simple resolves for cultivating your own habits of grace:
Word: The best way to learn to the read Bible is to read the Bible. Find a regular place and time, and amount of time, that is realistic and life-giving for you. Start there. Don’t bite off too much at once. Aim for a doable habit that adds up over time. (Consider not only reading, but answering questions through study, and feeling the truth in your heart through meditation.)
Prayer: It is an utterly remarkable thing to “have God’s ear” because of Christ. We should not think of prayer mainly as an obligation, but an opportunity. Consider the opportunity of having God’s ear, and identify just one fresh habit to cultivate as a result of this study, whether it’s a strategy for private prayer, prayer on the go throughout life, or praying with others.
Fellowship: Evaluate your relationships. Who in your life is clearly a means of God’s grace for your spiritual health and reenergizing? Would anyone else say the same of you? Are you a means of his grace in the lives of others? Make one fresh resolve related to fellowship, whether it’s to become a covenant member of your local church or to prioritize a particular relationship for gospel intentionality.
About the Book
Hear his voice. Have his ear. Belong to his body.
Three seemingly unremarkable principles shape and strengthen the Christian life: listening to God’s voice, speaking to him in prayer, and joining together with his people as the church. Though seemingly normal and routine, the everyday “habits of grace” we cultivate give us access to these God-designed channels through which his love and power flow—including the greatest joy of all: knowing and enjoying Jesus.
In Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines and the companion workbook for individual or group study, David Mathis helps us to discover simple ways to cultivate habits of grace that empower us for the Christian life by connecting us to God's abundant grace.
It's day five, our final day together. You’ve made it so far and today we want to try to wrap it up. Where to from here? At the end of the study, where do you go from here?
I’m hoping that maybe my new book, Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines, would be of some help to you. If you want to really press these down into the nooks and crannies of life, that’s what we tried to design the study guide for. I hope it is helpful for trying to think creatively and create your own habits.
Develop Your Own Habits
A few closing points to make as we end the study. First, the point of it all is not for me to tell you what kind of habits to create. Rather, I just want to accent the grace of God and these three key principles related to how God continues to bring grace into our lives through his Word, through prayer, and through fellowship. I simply want to encourage you to go away from this study and begin developing habits and patterns for yourself. I want you to think through how you can saturate your life in the words of life—God’s voice. Or, to figure out what kind of prayer manifestations—privately, on the go, or corporately—can you build into your life as rhythms. Or, to figure out what kind of commitments can you make, what kind of communities are you in, or what kind of friendships you have where you’re holding each other accountable and regularly interacting with one another.
Another thing to clarify here at the end, is that habits of grace are not the whole of the Christian life. Rather, habits of grace help us continue to access God’s grace so that we have power and strength by the Holy Spirit to continue in the Christian life. My hope is that the habits and patterns that you develop would fill your tank, so to speak, or inspire you or help you to be ready to meet needs through acts of love; to engage in the Great Commission and local evangelism and perhaps international missions; to think how you steward your money or how you steward your time. Habits of grace are not the goal of the Christian life; habits of grace are channels through which God continues to feed us with his grace so then we can begin to engage in the Christian life, in ministry, and in meeting the needs of those around us.
Some Practical Suggestions
Maybe one question you have here at the end is, "Well, what’s the best way to go about starting in hearing God's Word, in prayer, and in fellowship?" Let me just give you one way of each.
If you’ve not read the Bible much, the best way to learn how to read the Bible is to read the Bible for yourself. There’s a lifetime of knowing, studying, and meditating ahead, but it’s cumulative. As you do some reading—as you make a pattern and habit of reading, just a little bit, even if it’s five to ten minutes a day—it adds up over time. You will be increasingly shaped into the image of Christ through taking in his words. So reading the Bible for yourself is the best way to start hearing God's voice.
For prayer, I would say perhaps the best way to learn to pray is to do it with others. It’s so helpful to hear how other people pray, how they express their heart to God. However, you also learn to pray by praying by yourself. I wouldn’t immediately say you need to go grab books and read a whole lot about prayer. Simply pray yourself; speak to God. Listen to how others pray and pick up on that, both consciously and unconsciously.
Finally, in terms of fellowship, I think the main thing I would say is go all in with the local church—with all its warts, with all its mess, with all the uncomfortable parts, and with all the gloriously beautiful parts of being committed to a local body of Christians who are bound together by the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Keep the Arc in Mind
The last thing I’d say to you is think through the arc. Try to develop this over time. This isn’t something for today or for this week or for this month. Keep the larger arc of your devotional life in mind, so that when you have a crazy day or when things are really strained or stressed, you don’t have to have your full 15 minutes or half hour or 45 minutes to have your meeting and communion with Christ; rather, you need some flexibility there.
Here’s how I like to think about it: I begin with the Bible, I move to meditation, and I polish with prayer. That’s my little arc I think through in the mornings. I usually start with some Bible reading. And then, from that Bible reading, I’m trying to find a place where I can move into meditation, where I can linger, where I can chew, where I can try to apply the goodness of the biblical text to my heart. And then, meditation serves as a bridge discipline or an inspiration for me on my way to prayer. This makes it so that my prayer doesn’t start from scratch (so to speak) but is rather informed by meditation. So Bible reading moves into meditation and then meditation inspires and moves into prayer.
You might consider some kind of arc like that as something to develop over time—a kind of movement that you go through on a regular basis. When you have more time, you can expand that out; if you have more limited time on certain days, you can collapse that down and have some flexibility with it. The hope is to be able to regularly commune with Jesus—to know him more, to enjoy him more, and for him to be the great goal and end of your Christian life.