I went to the YMCA the other day with my two oldest children to have the wellness coach teach us to use all of the weight lifting equipment. One of the statements the coach kept saying was, “It doesn't matter how much weight you start with, just make sure you have good form and keep at it.” He impressed upon us the importance of 1) just getting started, and 2) sticking with it.
The wellness coach told us about one lady who goes to the Y very irregularly. She will walk on a treadmill for an hour and a half until she is completely burnt out on it, then she stays away from the Y for 6 weeks or so.
I think we Christians, in this same way, have the tendency to think we need to be lifting the whole spiritual pile of weights (whether real or imaginary) all at once. So many times we fall under conviction to do more of some discipline, but rather than try to build up to a reasonable daily amount, we burn out. Take for example Bible reading. The ideal would be to read some amount of Scripture daily. But, all too often, we make the mistake of saying, “oops, I haven't read my Bible for days, I better read two hours today to make up for it.” Then, like the lady at the YMCA, we get burnt out and leave the Bible untouched on the nightstand for a week.
What if we try to look at spiritual disciplines like we do our physical disciplines? We cannot lift a whole stack of weights on our first day at the gym. We have to build up to that, right?
Here are some of the disciplines that are important to some believers (this is a variety to cover a broad range of denominations): Bible reading, prayer, keeping a spiritual/prayer journal, fasting, telling others about the Lord, reading Christian books, Scripture memorization, learning a catechism, etc.
Not all of those weights will be lifted in one day. But, I think it would be wise over time to build up our strength level. A mature Christian should be more disciplined in their daily devotions that a new believer. But, it is never too late to start now. The important thing is to start small, what you can reasonably carry right now, and stick with it! Reading one Bible verse a day and pondering on it throughout the day is better than reading nothing at all! (And, I submit to you that sometimes reading one verse a day and meditating on it can be the best thing a sleep-deprived mama can do!)
Too often I have felt like a “bad Christian” because I didn't read a long enough portion in my Bible daily. We do not need to be adding guilt to our weary souls by setting someone else's standards as our own. Just because some blog author reads two hours a day, prays an hour a day, and journals daily doesn't mean that God expects this of you. Give yourself grace in these disciplines! You know what you can handle.
If I go to the gym to lift weights and get healthy, but I max out on every machine and come home grumpy – how does this help my family? Likewise, if you try to participate in every spiritual discipline to the point of exhaustion and yelling at your husband or children – you are not helping yourself or your family.
Just get started with something and stay with it. Keep building on slowly.