John Wesley had a serious plan for how to grow in his spiritual life. Rather than simply leave it to chance, he created a strong rhythm for spending time with God through various spiritual disciplines. He adhered to it for decades, and I’m sure it’s no coincidence that God used him to bring about a national revival that transformed the British Isles.
For Wesley there were five spiritual disciplines he sought to practice as often as possible.
- Prayer: Wesley would spend time at the beginning of every day in prayer. He also liked to say a short prayer every hour, on the hour, and would begin every important action with prayer.
- Bible Study: He would use his travel time (on horseback!) to regularly read through the Bible. His love for the scripture was so great he could say, “Let me be a man of one book.” He knew the Bible very well.
- Journaling: He used a daily journal to record his experiences and conversations, and often kept a separate daily diary to list how he spent each hour of his time, and the different temptations he faced. He then regularly reviewed both, to see where he still needed to grow.
- Fasting: Wesley had a weekly rhythm of fasting breakfast and lunch most Wednesdays and Fridays. He would also occasionally do longer fasts when praying for something specific.
- Taking communion: Wesley believed in communion as a means of grace that could draw him closer to God, just as other spiritual disciplines could. He took communion weekly at Anglican services, and encouraged all Methodists to do the same.
Wesley believed these were the practices that would help him draw closer to God. This is by no means a full list of spiritual disciplines; worship and meditation in particular have been practiced by followers of God throughout the centuries, and there are still more besides. But having discerned these as his core five, Wesley created a daily and weekly rhythm that integrated them into his life.
What are the spiritual disciplines that most help you draw closer to God? What rhythm of life can you create, to ensure you spend regular, quality time practicing them?
For more on John Wesley, click here for info on how to order your copy of A Blueprint for Revival: Lessons from the Life of John Wesley.
Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markonerock.