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Sunday, January 16, 2011


“…and he sent them out. He told them:
“Take nothing for the journey – no staff,
no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.”
Luke 9:2-3 NIV

I have always been familiar with the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, and fasting. But I was very surprised to learn that simplicity, solitude, submission, and service were also spiritual disciplines. About six years ago God began to speak to me about the spiritual discipline of simplicity. God began to teach me that I needed to simplify my life so that I could make more personal time for him. This was a challenge!

I was working outside the home and had the responsibilities of caring for my home and family. I also led a women’s Bible study which required weekly preparation, I co-chaired the mentoring program at our local church and in addition, I personally mentored several women. I was becoming stressed out in the midst of doing good things. God seemed to be showing me that he wanted me to monitor and guard my time and my activities so that I might have more personal time for him. I realized that I was so busy doing good things that I missed out on quality time with God. My prayer life suffered because most of my prayers were on the fly! I began to look hard at what I was doing and began guarding my time and streamlining my activities.

God began to teach me to throw away, give away, and donate personal stuff! I went through my house and one by one picked up my knick knacks, and if the word “love” did not come to mind, out it went! I emptied my closest of things that had not been on my body in years! I gave away useless kitchen gadgets and appliances that I knew would never be used. The point being, my needless possessions made housecleaning more difficult and took up valuable storage space.

I then tackled the issue of my time. I had to literally set on my hands in meetings so that I would not volunteer to do something else. I had to learn to stop digging up more flower beds; I needed to cook more simply, to hang up clothes, to do less laundry, and to put things back where they belonged. I then attacked the time that I spent in the car. It was crucial that I stop my habit of constantly running here and there on a whim. I made lists and then crossed things off of the lists that were not a priority. I also adopted a new philosophy in house cleaning. I vowed to be neat first, to be clean second, and to be polished last. I spent less time on the phone and for the most part stopped watching so much TV. I did major grocery shopping once a month and only shopped for perishables in between.

Simplicity is not something that you learn but rather a lifestyle that you practice. I had to give myself permission to say no to good opportunities and needs that came my way. I continued to do what was already on my plate, but I now approached my responsibilities with less stress because I didn’t continue to add more to my plate. My goal was to become more organized so that I could free up some additional intimate time for God. I also wanted to take time to enjoy life and smell the roses.

I also tried to learn how to lace my work with my passions. I love music so I played music while I worked and when I was in the car driving. I love to write, so I kept a notebook near by so I could jot down my thoughts in between chores. I love to garden, so I prayed as I worked in my garden. I love to scrapbook family photos and it became my habit to pray for those whose pictures I was placing in my albums. When I started practicing these simple things I began pursuing God as I worked and as I played.

Jesus was busy, yet he lived a simple life and when he sent the disciples out to work, he encouraged them to do the same. His message was “keep it simple.” I do not believe that Jesus was teaching the disciples that it was wrong to have possessions, but I do think his message was simplicity. Things and unnecessary activity bog us down. Jesus was busy, yet he found time to relax with his friends, and time to separate himself from his responsibilities and go away from the crowd and pray.

The discipline of simplicity does not come without effort. It is an ongoing struggle to practice simplicity in my life. But when I do, it most certainly frees me up for what is really important in life. Work with no play is dull, dreary, and depressing. Too much work and play for me is disastrous! I have found that it is an absolute necessity for me to spend consistent time with God. He is the one who is able to help bring balance into my life and to help me keep that balance from gradually slipping away. Sometimes even good things have to go!


Have you ever thought of simplicity as being a spiritual discipline?

Do you see value in simplicity?

What are some of the things that you could do to simplify your life?

Do you think that simplicity would eliminate some of the stress in your life?

Do you think that learning to live more simply would provide opportunity for spiritual growth in your life?


Dear God,

Thank you for your message regarding the discipline of simplicity. Oh God, you know that in my own strength I am hopelessly undisciplined. Show me this week one thing that you would like me to change in order to simplify my life. Help me to depend on you. Teach me to simplify my life by eliminating unnecessary tasks and activities. Guard my time and my activities so that I will be free to enjoy you and the passions and blessings that you have given me. Give me your help and patience as I endeavor to simplify my life one day at a time.

In Your Son’s Name I pray. Amen.