When you work your garden, you need tools to help get the job done. Bare hands aren’t enough; you need shovel and trowel and hose and fertilizer (and sunscreen, too!). Of course, the tools don’t make the plants grow, and you could probably get some plants going without them, in a pinch. But over the centuries, certain tools have developed for agriculture because they do tend to help.
There is a similar history in life with God. Through thousands of years of people walking in God’s way, certain tools (we call them spiritual disciplines) have come up over and over again. We’ve learned that they help us know God, wait on God, and trust God, so that when he gives the growth we’re ready to receive it. Spiritual practices don’t make growth happen directly, but they help us live in relationship with the God who grows us himself.
In Good Dirt, we introduce families to the twelve classic spiritual disciplines, in terms that the whole family can understand. Kids soak up these practices (and, let’s face it—they’re usually better at them than us adults, who get tripped up making them into “acts of righteousness” to impress each other or God). Introducing these twelve practices (selected by Richard Foster in his classic work, Celebration of Discipline) helps get children into a healthy rhythm of living with God.
Click on a practice for ideas on how your family can engage it.
Meditation: Focusing our minds on God and his words to us
Prayer: Talking with God
Study: Learning about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit
Fasting: Giving up something on purpose so we can hear God better
Service: Doing things for others
Simplicity: Letting go of things that keep us from God
Solitude: Quiet, alone, private time with God
Submission: Giving up getting our own way
Confession: Telling the Truth about Ourselves and God.
Guidance: Listening to the counsel of God and those who love us
Worship: Our response to our God who loves us
Celebration: Knowing every good gift from God is a reason to party
For more about how to introduce these twelve practices into the lives of children of all ages, we highly recommend Habits of a Child’s Heart by Valerie Hess and Marti Watson Garlett.
Icon graphics by Jeannette Fernandez