Spiritual Disciplines for Teen Life

Spiritual Disciplines for Teen Life

 

By JESSIE JASKO

The daily life of a Christian is similar to the training of an athlete. We must keep our spiritual life healthy in order to grow closer to Christ, which is our ultimate goal. One fruitful way of accomplishing this goal is to discipline ourselves in a daily practice of spiritual enrichment. Daily repetition eventually creates a habit. Even if one does not feel moved in a given moment to follow through with the action, she will nevertheless derive the benefits.

The benefits of establishing a regimen of disciplines in our walk with God are innumerable. Having a predetermined script to follow will eventually turn action into habit. What could be better than establishing a habit that enriches the soul and brings us closer to God the Father? It is beneficial to cultivate these habits at a young age so that we may carry them into adulthood. A daily practice in our  faith helps us to turn away from sins, such as sloth, and redirect our thoughts to pondering the glory of the Lord.

In my own life I want to practice the disciplines of:

• Prayer
• Solitude
• Keeping death before one’s eye daily
• Self-integrity

Prayer is an essential part of maintaining a relationship with God. I have grown up knowing this fact and hearing it preached about in church. However, for a long time, I would pray simply to check off the imaginary box on the list of good Christian things to do. I would not truly sit and have a conversation with God. I had fallen into the trap of monotonously talking at God instead of with Him. I still often fall into this trap. By laying out a detailed format for prayer in his monastery, Benedict stressed that prayer is indispensable. It can be extrapolated that constant prayer is not only a virtue that should be practiced by monks, but one that should be practiced by all Christians.

With this in mind, I would like to strive for a more sanctifying prayer life. I hope this practice will lead to a meditative prayer time with God absent of worry. This will ultimately cultivate a prayer life in which I am able simply to sit in the presence of God and converse with Him. A realistic way I can apply this practice is to wake ten minutes earlier and go to bed ten minutes later every day. This regimen will give me twenty minutes of daily devotion.

In order to remind myself of my purpose, I will begin each devotion with my favorite prayer, The
Prayer of Abandonment by Blessed Charles de Foucauld.

Another discipline I would like to cultivate in my life is solitude. The simple thought of being completely quiet and sitting alone with my thoughts frightens me. As scary as it may be, this is why I want to practice the discipline of solitude. I know that there is immense good that will stem from this practice. Whether I use that time to clear my mind of petty distractions or use it as a time of meditation, I will gain peace. I believe it will benefit me to pry myself from distractions and anxieties and get to know myself. Solitude will prove to be a constructive way to quiet the internal protests, learn more about my inner workings, and explore my relationship with the Lord.

Whenever I am faced with downtime, instead of reverting to the deafening noise of media, I will strive to fill that time with silence—silence that will allow me to reflect on the blessings that God has poured out on me, and on all the world.

Additionally, I want to develop a mindset of, “keeping death before one’s eye daily” (Rule of Benedict, Ch. IV). I aspire to grasp this idea and allow it to direct my affections. How would I go about my day if I kept in mind that death could come at any time? How would I conduct myself if I were continuously pondering the idea that at any moment I could come face to face with Jesus himself?

I believe keeping these truths on my mind will have an enormous impact on the way I live my life. I will become more like Christ. In order to carry this out, I intend to proceed every action with the question:

How am I able to glorify God in this endeavor?

As Saint Benedict says: “Yet in all his decisions, let the Abbot think of God’s retribution” (Rule, Ch.
LV). In this practice I mean to achieve the Abbot’s instruction.

Finally, I want to keep my focus on self-integrity. I will strive to be steadfast in all situations and unchanging in my desire to keep my life in line with truth, beauty and goodness. In every situation I hope to cultivate the discipline of choosing what is right over what is enjoyable. Fanciful pleasures will pass, but God’s truth will last forever. I will strive to develop the will to do the things I know I should even if I find them to be tedious. I want to understand that what I need to do will fill me with the truth of Christ whether I particularly like the action or not. To accomplish this disposition, I will strive to perform the aforementioned spiritual disciplines with great rigor and realize that even if my heart is not fully committed, the daily repetition will sway me until I am all in.

In conclusion, through the study of Saint Benedict, I have learned the importance of a
daily spiritual regime. I now know that no matter how tiresome a task can become, I have the capability to find immense spiritual joy in the discipline of a spiritual practice. I hope that with the knowledge I have gained form Saint Benedict I will develop the disciplines in order to live a holy life.

 

Students in Dr. Wylie’s History of Christianity class recently finished reading selections of The Rule of St. Benedict. The Rule was written in the early 6th century for monks, and provides guidelines for how to grow in faith and spiritual discipline. Although the Rule is now 1,500 years old, it still inspires those who read it to cultivate an intentional and disciplined spiritual life. Thus, Dr. Wylie’s students were asked to write their own Rules of Discipline. We trust that the following Rule, written by Jessie Jasko, will bless and inspire you.

 

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