Christian spiritual life requires discipline.
At least, that is what I keep reading from various authorities, and what I am experiencing in my own life. It is not possible, for most of us at least–certainly for me–to grow spiritually without regular, preferably daily, focus and effort.
This effort takes time. Prayer needs to be more than slap-dash, grabbing a few seconds or a minute to say “Thanks, God!” It is not that quick prayer is not good. It is good to be in conversation with God throughout the day. Often, that conversation can be a quick word or two, or even just a nod of the head toward God.
But that cannot be all there is. Spiritual health requires investment.
If you want to lose weight, for example, you need to adjust your eating habits. That takes time and concentration. And you want to exercise. That takes time and concentration, too. Most of us who have set out to lose weight know it is a journey of ups and downs, and we know that success comes when we stay focused on regularly achieving the ups.
Spiritual health is like that as well. Habits need to be adjusted, and new muscles need to be used.
Daily prayer is essential–it may start out at a couple of minutes, but if it is regular–try for the same time each day, for example, in the same place–it grows into 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 60 minutes over time. The more you do the more you will be able to focus. In fact, there will come a time when you don’t pray that you will feel the loss. Your day will not be as good and you know it is because you did not use time to pray.
What is the point of this discipline? It is not to say that we do it–that is spiritual self-righteousness–nor is it just to help others. At base, it is to build a relationship with God, the relationship God wants to have with you.
There is nothing sweeter.