“At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
There’s so much truth to this line from the Letter to the Hebrews. Discipline hurts. Whether it’s working out, getting up earlier, or developing a daily prayer life – it’s not easy. In my own life, the real key to discipline is routine.
For a few years, I used to be slightly anti-routine. I used to think that routine would lock me in and every day would be the same boring list of activities. We often think of it as the same old every single day.
And, while on paper, that may be what it looks like, it’s actually the furthest thing from the truth.
It’s having a routine that allows you to consistently focus on certain areas of your life that need work, to set goals, and to attack them every day. It’s impossible to develop any sort of prayer life when there’s no real plan – sometimes it’s in the morning, in the evening, in the car, or sometimes it’s reading, other times it’s vocal prayer or song meditations. It’s all over the place and you’ll never develop the habit.
Time for prayer should be exactly that – time for prayer. It’s not time when you could be working out or could be cooking breakfast. It’s time for prayer, that’s it.
Routine gives permission to be where you are, and not be worried about doing something else. It seems counterintuitive but with routine comes a liberating peace.
Now, as it says in Hebrews, at first it’s painful. And, it’s tough to go zero to 60 in developing your routine. If you can, go for it. If not, start small. Pick the time and place for prayer every day. Develop that habit. Then, move on to the next one. And, the next.
That’s the path of discipline.