“Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise.”

Introductions

”1 Cor 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”

There is a certain degree of self-discipline required to attain any goal. An athlete has to train. A student has to study. A carpenter has to practice. The effort one puts into what one does is directly proportional to the level of expertise one wishes to attain. It is no different for a disciple, although as Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians, s/he needs to put in more effort because the reward is of far more value than anything we may wish to attain on earth.

There are four basic elements that are essential for wholesome spiritual growth. Two of these, prayer and study, deal with our relationship with God. The other two, sharing and witness, deal with our relationship to people. We have subdivided these four elements into another four and we will briefly look at them here. We will examine each individual element in more detail later.

Prayer And Study

We have chosen to follow Jesus, but this is not something that we can do unless we love him, which comes only by getting an understanding of his love. “1 Jn 4:19 We love, because he first loved us.” This requires prayer, which helps to build a relationship with him, and study, which helps us get to know him better. The more we know Jesus, the more we love him, and the more we love him, the more we can fulfil the commandment to “Lk 10:27 love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind”. There are no shortcuts to this and if we don’t have a dedicated and disciplined prayer and study life our Christian journey will be largely superficial and get us nowhere.

Prayer

Study

Prayer involves four sub-elements that are vital to growth:

- Personal prayer, where we spend time one on one with God.

- Family prayer, where we spend time with God along with those he has given us for our own.

- Group prayer, where we spend time with God along with his other children.

- Community prayer, where we unite globally with the body of Christ that is the Church.

Similarly, there are four sub-elements to study as well:

- Bible reading, where we read Scripture along with the Catechism of the Catholic Church to get a better understanding of it.

- Bible study, where we delve deeper into the Word of God.

- Bible memorization, where we internalize Scripture to the extent we have it committed to memory.

- Bible meditation, where we deeply ponder the things God says to us.

Sharing and Outreach

We don’t live in isolation; we are social beings. And as Christians we are closer knit as part of the body of Christ. Paul writes this: “1 Cor 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” Consequently, we have an obligation to share the blessings and gifts we have received with others, and reach out to those who don’t know Christ in order to draw them to the eternal life we partake of.

Sharing

Outreach

There are four elements to sharing:

- Sharing time, where we spend a part of our time in the service of God and his people.

- Sharing money, where we tithe part of our income towards the growth of God’s kingdom.

- Sharing talent, where we use our gifts and talent for the glory of God.

- Sharing love, where we give our hearts for those in need of love.

Likewise, there are four elements to
outreach:

- Testifying about Christ to those who don’t know him.

- Interceding for the salvation of those who are lost.

- Involving ourselves in growing the Kingdom of God through
ministry.

- Drawing people to prayer, worship and the Word of God.

Spiritual Growth Assessment

It may help us, before we proceed further, to examine these four key elements—our prayer life, our knowledge of Scripture and Tradition, our missionary zeal, and our generosity of spirit and heart—as they exist in our lives at this moment in time to get a rough idea of where we currently are on the journey of discipleship.

Complete the Spiritual Growth Assessment.

The assessment is intended to help you think carefully about your spiritual development related to these four specific spiritual disciplines: prayer, study, sharing and outreach. Invite the Holy Spirit to help you complete the assessment honestly and accurately. Use the scale below to respond to each statement.
 
  • Never 1 point
  • Seldom 2 points
  • Occasionally 3 points
  • Frequently 4 points
  • Always 5 points
Total the scores you have allocated in each discipline.  A perfect score would be 20 in each discipline for a total of 80 and it is unlikely that anybody starting out on this journey would be anywhere close to that mark. While it is not the aim of the School of Discipleship to attain a perfect score, we will notice that as we build ourselves in each discipline, we get closer to God; and as we get closer to God, we build ourselves in each discipline.
 

Prayer Response

Outreach Response

Personal Prayer: I spend at least 30 minutes in personal prayer each day

Family Prayer: I spend at least 10 minutes praying with my family each day

Group Prayer: I spend at least one day a week praying in a group

Community Prayer: I go for Mass on all days of obligation
Faith Sharing: I share my faith with others, including strangers

Intercession: I pray regularly for the salvation of those who don't know Jesus

Ministry: I am engaged in ministry (eucharistic minister, catechist, choir member, etc.)

Invitation to Prayer: I invite people to Church, prayer and other spiritual programs

Prayer Total

Outreach Total

   

Study Response

Sharing Response

Bible Reading: I read the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Bible Study: I study the Bible and refer to the Catechism

Bible Memorization: I memorize verses from the Bible

Bible Meditation: I meditate on Scripture passages
Time: I spend my time in the service of God and/or for God's people

Money: I tithe 10% or more of my income in the service of God

Talent: I use my talent in the service of God and/or for God's people

Charity: I share of my love with all of God's children.

Study Total

Sharing Total

   

Total Of All Four Elements

 
 
 

 

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Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager

Bible Story illustrations by publishing.com 

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