Grounded Podcast

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The Mistake That Sabotages Our Spiritual Disciplines, with Don Whitney

How can you connect the dots between your good intentions and your everyday reality? Discover the freedom found in spiritual disciplines with distinguished guest Don Whitney in this episode of Grounded.

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Episode Notes:

Challenges from Revive Our Hearts

Revive Our Hearts 2021 highlights


Dannah Gresh: What's the number one error Christians make when they pursue New Year's resolutions in an effort to grow in their spiritual discipline? We're going to find out the answer to that question on this episode of Grounded. I'm Dannah Gresh.

Erin Davis: And I'm Erin Davis. I want to know, Dannah, the answer to that question. I hope that there are some of you joining us for the very first time this morning. In fact, we were just praying for that very thing. And if that's you, I need to let you know that Grounded is a production of Revive Our Hearts. Our mission is the same week after week, year after year, we can now say, and that mission is to give you hope and perspective.

Dannah: Cannot believe it's been year after year, Erin.

Erin: Me either. Hey, where's the time gone? 

Dannah: I know, where does it go? I want to ask you a question this morning, my friend. Did you make any New Year's resolutions this year? 

Erin: Well, of course I did. Because I'm a type double A personality who loves to smash goals. But mine is pretty simple. I just want to take a walk after dinner every night because I was reading about how that helps you digest your food and stuff. So far, so good. I've done it every night. 

Dannah: Does that make you skinnier helping you digest your food?

Erin: It might, but I had more energy, which is what I'm going for.

Dannah: Energy, I could use that too. I don't make New Year's resolutions. I tend to fail at them. Point blank. 

Erin: You’re not alone, most people do. 

Dannah: So, I don't even put myself through the misery of it. Although, there is one thing I do to kind of reset my relationship with Jesus every January. I’ll actually tell you about that in a few minutes. But growth in our relationship with God is really one big topic for people who are writing New Year's resolutions right now. In fact, I was reading this one survey, and it's the second most popular area where people want to make an improvement right now. 

Erin: Yeah, I think second only to getting skinny like you mentioned. But it's interesting to me the number one and the number two podcast right now at the top of 2020 and 2022 are both Bible podcasts. Both read the Bible through in a year or listen to the Bible through in a year kind of podcasts. You’ve heard me, right. They're ranked number one and number two, and that's on the Apple podcast chart. 

So, I think that tells us something about what people are really hoping to do in the new year. 

Dannah: Yeah, how exciting. 

Erin: Yeah.

Dannah: It tells us that people are reaching out to the Bible right now for spiritual transformation.

I'm very excited about that. I hope that you are too. I hope you want to transform your heart and your life with God's Word as we start the new year. 

Erin: Yeah. I have this little text thread of, I don’t know, there's probably eight of us on it. And we text each other what we read in the Bible every morning. We're usually pretty strong in January, February, and then we peter off. But one of the women on that thread early in the year this year said, “Pray that I would be more faithful to God's Word this year.” 

And all of us were like, “Yes, me too.” That's what we want. We don't want to drop out from that commitment to God's Word. So, that's what we're gonna do for you this morning. We're gonna pray for each other to be more faithful to God's Word and to some other things. 

Dannah: Exactly. And as usual, we want to hear from you. So, if you're watching us live right now, interact with us in the chat this morning. We want to know, did you make any New Year's resolutions about your relationship with God? Maybe you're gonna read the Bible through this year. 

Erin: Oh, that's a great one. I love that one. I hope that chat blows up here with these kinds of resolutions. 

Here's one that I hope some of you may do. I hope some of you made a resolution to get back in church with some frequency, maybe every Sunday. 

Dannah: Okay, get off my soapbox, Erin Davis.

Erin: I know.

Dannah: Get off my soapbox.

Erin: I love it. I want people back in church. I do have some dear friends who made that commitment, and they were in church the first Sunday of January. It made my heart so happy. 

Dannah: That's awesome. I know some friends who are making a New Year's resolution to pray more consistently, more fervently, more faithfully. Prayer is their go-to New Year's resolution right now. And I think that's a really good one. 

Erin: I'd like to be stronger in the area of prayer for sure. Or maybe it's join a small group and get plugged in. I mean, don't we still feel disconnected? The reason why we can't believe we've been doing this for years is because I've decided 2020 and 2021 were actually one long, very long year. 

Dannah: One very long year.

Erin: One very long year, and many of us still feel disconnected from all of that. So maybe you resolve you're going to get in a small group and study the Bible together. Love that. 

Dannah: So, tell us what your New Year's resolutions are in the chat right now. We want to know.

Erin: Yeah, or maybe you haven't made one yet. I think after this episode you will be encouraged to do so. We do not want you to be a resolution dropout. As I've been thinking and praying for the women who are going to watch and listen to Grounded in 2022, my word for you is “thrive.” 

And so, I want you to keep these resolutions. We're going to find out why they're important when we talk to our guests, and that's especially if your resolution is to grow in your Christian walk. I hope you keep walking too and eat healthy, those are all really good things. But if you prioritize your walk with Jesus, I want you to carry that commitment through because there's nothing more important. And you know what, I don't want to be a dropout either. I've been kind of rolling my eyes every time I've heard the statistics about how we can't keep our resolution. So, like this matters. Why can't we stick it out? 

We brought in a guest who can help us connect the dots. I need help with connecting these dots between our intentions, we have the best of intentions but it’s our daily reality, which is where often those things fall apart. Don Whitney is back. He's here to talk with us about spiritual disciplines. 

Dannah: Yeah, he is a favorite guest. I often hear great compliments about him when we've had him on in the past. And after Don's with us, I'll be sharing one mistake Christians make as they pursue their resolution to grow in the spiritual disciplines. 

Listen, it's not my idea. You can read about this spiritual setback in the Bible, my friends. So, if you're pursuing God with some new passion, right now, you're gonna want to know what it is so you can avoid it. We want to help you to successfully embrace spiritual disciplines that will help you thrive in your walk with Jesus this year. 

Good News: Haitian Missionaries Safe (17:54)

Erin: There it is. That's the Grounded word of the year. I've declared it—“thrive.” That's what I want for the women who are watching and listening. So, amen to that. But first, before we talk to Don, we need some good news. I know just the girl to break into is the one, the only, the beautiful Portia Collins. P., we’ve got to know. Did you make any resolutions for 2020? Look at that smile. That's a Portia Collins smile right. there. Did you make any resolutions for 2022? 

Portia Collins: So, I do this thing where I kind of psych myself up. I say that I don't make resolutions. But I kind of resolve to do something.

Dannah: You resolve not to resolve as you resolve is what you're saying? 

Portia: It's like semantics. It's a mind game. 

Erin: But do you have some 2022 goals? We can use a different word. 

Portia: Yes, I really want to work on cultivating and kind of nurturing myself mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, so that I can be a better mom.

Dannah: That’s a good one. 

Erin: I love that.

Dannah: That’s a good one, I love it. 

Erin: You’re already a great mom, but I commend that goal, Portia. 

Portia: Good deal. Thanks, guys. Well, I want to share some good news with you this morning and today’s good news takes us to the nation of Haiti, were 17 of our brothers and sisters in Christ were held hostage for more than two months—12 adults, 5 children part of an organization called Christian Aid Ministries. They were kidnapped on October 16 after visiting an orphanage in Haiti, and their captors demanded millions of dollars in ransom. 

So, try to picture this for a moment. You go on a short-term mission trip with several families from your church, and you end up held captive by the people that you are trying to reach for Jesus. That's exactly what happened. Some of the kidnapped Christians were released, but the remaining 12, including a 10-month-old baby, a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old, continued to be held against their will for many weeks. Can you imagine?

I mean, I'm just sitting here thinking, my heart hurts as I think about those little ones. It's tough to picture my baby, my Emmi, being held hostage. Well, these hostages made a daring escape right before Christmas. And now, all 17 hostages are safely back home. 

Here's the part of the story that really hits me right here in the heart. While our brothers and sisters were held captive, they prayed for their kidnappers. They told them about God's love. They called them to repent and to turn to Jesus. They often sang, specifically Psalm 34. You're familiar with it, I'm sure we all are. It begins with “I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” 

Think about that. They did not have a Bible, but they kept each other's spirits up by quoting the Bible to each other. It reminds me of what we do every week here right here on Grounded. The director of Christian Aid Ministries said this to the kidnappers, “Jesus taught us by word and by His own example, that the power of forgiving love is stronger than the hate of violence, so therefore, we extend forgiveness to you.” 

Amen, like hope even in the in the middle of being captive, forgiveness for your kidnappers. And all of this is possible because of Jesus. And that my friends is good news, Erin. 

Erin: Oh man, I am fascinated by this story. And these missionaries who were held captive, I've been tracking it. Maybe some of you have and they actually followed the stars when they made their escape. They followed the stars to freedom, which was right before Christmas. The whole thing just makes me tear up. We are working to try and get some of these missionaries on Grounded, so you can pray with us for that, because we want to hear the story from their own lips, so good job, Portia.

I love that you start our Monday's with good news. Happy to do it. And then that million-dollar Portia smile. 

Grounded with Don Whitney (21:38)

Well, it's time to get Grounded with God's people. I know I always say this, and I always mean it. But I am really excited about today's interview. Don Whitney is here this morning. He has been a Grounded guest before. We were trying to figure out when before this episode began. And it was because 2020 and 2021 all burned together we're not exactly sure. But he's been on before to talk about praying Scripture. I'd encourage you to look up that episode and give it another listen. He's a longtime professor of biblical theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary He has such a pastor's heart, and he's an author of a book called Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Welcome back to Grounded, Don.

Don Whitney: Thanks. It's great to be back.

Erin: Okay, spiritual disciplines, I want to jump just right into it. That phrase is not something we see in Scripture. So, can you give us a good definition of that idea, that term, spiritual disciplines?

Don: Well, in 1 Timothy 4:7, in translation, I prefer there the New American Standard, it says,
“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” So, if your purpose is godliness, or Christ-likeness, and it is, and if you're indwelled by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit makes holiness your purpose, then the God-given path to that is, it says, “Discipline yourself, for the purpose of godliness.” 

So historically, the practical ways we do that and obey that verse have been called the spiritual disciplines, the practices that promote godliness. So, in summary, it's those habits and practices found in the Bible by command, example, or principle that the people of God have practiced since Bible times. These are the ways by which we experience God and we grow in godliness. Some of those disciplines are personal, for example, private Bible intake, private prayer. Some of those in the Bible are interpersonal, praying with the church, worshiping with the church, hearing the Word of God with the church.

Erin: Yeah, I love that you use the word habit, because this time of year, we really collectively evaluate our habits, don't we? And this is a great area to look at for our habits. One thing you you wrote in your book, which I found so helpful, is that these are biblical . . . I think what is used in in your book as an example, someone could call gardening a spiritual discipline because that's something that makes them feel joy. But we're looking for the ones that the Bible outlines, if we're truly going to call them spiritual disciplines. You don't have to give me a comprehensive list. But give me some of the examples of the spiritual disciplines we see in Scripture.

Don: Yeah, that's very important point, because someone could say, as you said, gardening or exercise. They say, “I feel closer to God when I exercise, and so, exercise or gardening, those are spiritual disciplines for me, not so much getting into the Word of God. Maybe that works for you.” That puts us in charge of our spiritual life. 

And so, when we submit the Scripture in God's ways, then those practices found in the Bible are the ones that we want to pursue in terms of growth and grace and intimacy with God. So the intake of the Word of God in all forms—hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, meditating on applying—those are the primary disciplines of hearing from God. 

Second, we would be responding to that through prayer. So personal prayer, interpersonal prayer, those are the two foundational ones, and all the others grow out of those two. Those two are the quality control on all the other spiritual disciplines. But the others would include things like worship, both private and public worship, serving, fasting, journaling, silence and solitude, for example. Some would say that's an occasion to practice other spiritual disciplines, godly learning. Koinonia on the public side, participating in the Lord's Table, we're commanded to do that. But we don't do that alone. We do that with other Christians. 

And so, these are the kinds of things. Evangelism is one. These are the kinds of practices found in the Bible that Christians historically have practiced to experience God and to grow in grace.

Erin: Yeah, I think those big two that you mentioned are the two areas where we most know we need to work—intake of the Bible, reading the Bible, and praying. Everything else flows out of that. I do want to say at Revive Our Hearts, our tagline is calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness. The Christian life is to be a life of freedom. But you make the strong case, that it's also a life of discipline. So how do Christians live free lives of freedom and discipline lives? Why is that discipline piece so important if we are going to live as free people?

Don: Yeah, a lot of people hear the word discipline, and they're drawn, of course, to freedom. They say discipline is bondage. That's legalism, and certainly the Bible is opposed to legalism and addresses that specifically. So that's a real danger. We want to warn people about that. Because you know, frankly, for every real legalist I come across, I come across a (the theological term here is) antinomian. So those are anti against the law of God in one sense. Other words, I say grace covers it all. I'm just free in Christ. I don't need to worry about discipline and those kinds of things. Well, let's remember 1 Timothy 4:7 is a command. It says, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” God doesn't do that for you. It says discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. 

If it's a command in Scripture, then it has to be possible to obey it, without legalism, right? 

Erin: Oh, I love that. 

Don: It's in the Word, we must obey it. It must be possible to obey that without legalism. So, Colossians 1:27 says, Paul is talking about his ministry of making people mature in Christ. And he says, “For this I labor.” Now thus far, who's laboring? Well, it's Paul. Paul is one who went to bed tired at night, not God. But it says, “For this I labor, striving according to His power, which works powerfully within me.” (v. 29). So, when Paul went to bed at night and thought, “Man, those stones hurt today. Those words hurt, that was hard. Am I going to get up and do this again tomorrow? You bet I am.” 

Where did the desire and the power for that come from? All glory to God. Here's where rubber meets the road on this. The obedience of the disciplines usually feels like all of you. But the desire and the power is from the Holy Spirit. 

So, the classic example is you wake up on Sunday morning, and your first thought is, “Well, I don't feel like going today.” 

Erin: Every Sunday.

Don: Yeah. But what makes you throw the covers off, go against the inertia and do what most of your neighbors won't do? All glory to God, right? God doesn't get you out of bed and drag you to the bathroom and start getting ready. He doesn't get you out of bed in the morning and drag you over to the desk and open the pages of the Bible and make your head go down and make your eyes go back and forth. It feels like all of you. That's the way the disciplines are. 

But why do you keep doing it? Why do you have a desire for it? All glory to God. That's the work of the Holy Spirit. It gives you the desire and the power, the desire to come back when you fail, the desire to come back and pick up Bible reading again, when you were so committed to that Bible reading plan that you've already messed up. Where does that desire and power come from? The work of the Holy Spirit.

Erin: I love it. You just gave all of us a massive permission slip. Because it can be like why don't my desires align with what I've committed to do, knowing that it's important? We do have to fight that. I'm so tired of being a woman of the flesh. I'll be so glad when I'm in glory and don't have to fight that. But you just do. It was a permission slip to feel that and still move towards those intentions.

In your book, you describe a woman who was very busy with Christian activity, but she didn't know how to read her Bible and pray. I think she confessed that to your wife. And you described her as a mile wide and an inch deep. I've been praying for the women who watched Grounded or listened to the podcast. And when I'm praying, I'm praying for more of us. But more than that, I'm praying for us to have depth. Not more Christian activity, necessarily, but a real depth of faith in the year to come. Spiritual disciplines I really think are the secret to depth. How do spiritual disciplines allow us to grow deeper roots in Jesus?

Don: Well, these are the God-given means by which we experience Him and grow in grace. So, this is a crazy illustration, but I think it sticks. I wouldn't know what it was like to get hit by a semi. Where would I go to find out? I could say, okay, I'm going to go to my church building and take hold of the pulpit because I believe when I get hit by that truck, it's going to be a spiritual experience. Well, our churches are devoted to spiritual experiences. So I'm going to take hold of the pulpit and say, “Okay, God, hit me with that truck. I'm ready.” What's gonna happen? Nothing. Trucks don't run in your church building. If I want to get hit by a semi, where do I go to find out? You know, I-65. That's where the trucks run. Right? All right, you want to get hit by the truck of God's Spirit. Don't expect Him to take a dirt road to you.

Praise God. Sometimes he does meet us in unexpected ways in unexpected places, but the most predictable ways we can expect to encounter Him are on the highways He has built to Himself. And what are those, we call them the spiritual disciplines, those things we do alone, that are found in Scripture: private prayer, private intake of the Word, those that are found that we do together, corporate worship, the Lord's Table, hearing the word preached, fellowship with His people, real koinonia—talking about God and things of God. These are the means God uses to grow us which is back to where your questions started. This is how we experience God, this is how He grows us is in the context of these God-given practices found in the Bible. 

Erin: Man, I want to get hit by the truck of God this year. I really do. I love that picture that's gonna stick with me. But it does seem like every woman I know in my Christian circles feels like she can do better at reading the Bible and praying. She knows that's an area where she lacks discipline. I'm in this camp too, we've made commitments over and over. So, I wonder, is it possible for us to actually be consistent in the spiritual disciplines? Have you seen it? Is it possible for us to take it from desire to our actual lives over the long term?

Don: Sure, it's possible. I mean, it's far more possible. You probably realize just in terms of people in your local church, your Christian brothers and sisters, as some of us find certain practices easier than others and church history proves it. Certainly, it's possible. So, I mean, God doesn't mock us with the call to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. And so, yes, we have to say, yes, it's possible to do what the Bible calls us to do when He commands us. You discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is possible. No one does so perfectly. The Bible teaches that too. 

But yes, it is possible. In the Bible, in Proverbs, the righteous man falls seven times and rises again. We are going to fall, but we keep getting up. The Holy Spirit gives us the desire, the power, and He gives us an affection for the things of God. We keep coming back to them even though we fail again and again and again, because this is a fire God's put in our bones. 

We can't walk away like Jeremiah, who said, “Lord, you deceived me, this isn't what I signed up for, all this persecution.” And he said, “I just want to quit. But I can't quit. There's a fire in my bones.” See that? That perseverance is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit, that persevering desire, and that perseverance in the pursuit of God and the things of God, that's evidence of the Holy Spirit's work.

Erin: Yeah, and I'm always so relieved when I have those desires, because that's confirmation that I do belong to Jesus and He is making me into a new creation. Something my pastor says to our congregation a lot is “pray to want to,” instead of just praying to read your Bible more or praying to pray more or praying to go to church more. Pray to want to ask God to give you the desire. You prayed for us before this episode began. I love to hear you pray. Would you just pray for the women who will watch this and listen to this, that they would have the desire for spiritual disciplines this year?

Don: Yeah, I mean, last time I talked about praying the Bible. I'm going to pray from a passage here just very briefly. Portia mentioned earlier from Psalm 34, verse 1, “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord, that the humble here and be glad.” 

Let's pray. Lord, enable us to bless You at all times as those missionaries attempted to do even in the midst of captivity and persecution. They sought to bless You; they wanted to bless You. And that was evidence of Your Spirit’s work within them. Lord, give each woman watching this desire to bless You at all times, even though what comes out of our mouths is often complaining.

Lord, give us a desire to bless You at all times, with the hope that the day is coming in another world when that's exactly what we will do. We will bless You at all times. We want to do that. We thank You for that hope. May Your praise continually be in our mouths. 

I pray for those watching, that You will enable them to praise You in the midst of difficult and discouraging circumstances. Let them be able to look above it all and recognize God is in control, and there is another world and this world is not all that there is. But there is a time coming through, Jesus, in which we will continually bless You. May our souls boast most in You, not in ourselves and not in our ability to keep our resolutions, not in our ability to stay disciplined over a period of time or more than somebody else. But they are to boast in what You have done mostly through Jesus for us. All that we have, all we are is by Your grace and for Your glory. So, Lord, help us in these ways. I ask in Jesus’ name and for Your glory, amen.

Erin: Amen. Don, you’re a gift to the Church. Thanks for encouraging us to be disciplined towards holiness, and thanks for being back on Grounded. We adore you.

Don: Yeah, thanks for having me back. 

Erin: Have a good day. 

Dannah: Wow, Erin Davis and Don Whitney. You know, I … 

Erin: I got hit by the semi-truck during that interview. I got hit by the semi-truck. 

Dannah: Well, I don't know if I want to get hit by my truck. I'm still processing that visual. But I do want to get on that highway of the spiritual disciplines and receive whatever it is the Lord wants for me. And you know what, Erin? There are lots of sisters on our Grounded thread that are saying the same thing. 

Deb says, “I want to read the whole Bible. I've never read through the whole Bible before. And I'm so excited to start.” And Lynn says, “My word for the year is more—more of the Word, more love, more kindness, more serving.” I'm so excited about this one. Mildred says, “I'm going to write the books of the Bible this year.” Wow. 

Erin: Write? Mildred, write the Word? Like, I want to give high fives to everybody. 

Dannah: High fives to all of them.

Erin: We’re all out on the highway, maybe with our thumbs out, waiting to see where the Lord is going to take us. 

Grounded in the Word: Isaiah 58:3–4 (39:22)

Dannah: Yes, exactly. That’s right.

Well, sisters, as I mentioned, I don't make a New Year's resolution every year. But I do take 21 days. I set them aside to fast and to pray. I love how Don Whitney said just moments ago, that prayer is one of the quality controls of all the other spiritual disciplines. 

Now, I don't fast and pray alone, there are a large number of us in my community who participate. My personal prayer every year is that it'll just impact everything about my relationship with God. In fact, I call it “pushing reset on my spiritual disciplines.” 

I want to turn to a passage about fasting, to show you a mistake that we often make when we pursue any of the spiritual disciplines. So let me read to you from Isaiah chapter 58. 

You might want to grab your Bibles so you can soak in this. It says, “Behold, in the day of your fast, you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice be heard on high.” That's verses 3 and 4 from Isaiah 58. 

Did you hear it? Did you hear the mistake God's people were making when they fasted? Well, yes, they were exploiting their workers. But I don't think that was the big mistake. And yes, they were quarreling and fighting. But I think there's more here. There's something else for us to learn. 

The mistake they were making was treating a sacred act like an empty ritual. Their fast was shallow, no food, some prayer, but they weren't soaking in the presence of God as they did those things. They were not doing the deep work of letting God transform their minds and their hearts and their behaviors. 

The mistake they made was that they wanted to cross a spiritual discipline off their list without letting it change how they lived, and loved to listen to God's rebuke of them. As we keep reading. It says rebuke for all of us if we're guilty of empty ritual. Let me keep reading to you in Isaiah 58, verse 5, it says, “Is this the kind of fasting I've chosen? Only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reason for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast a day acceptable to the Lord?” 

Well, obviously, the answer was no, this was not the kind of fasting God had chosen for them. And it's not the kind of Bible reading or serving or church going He's looking for either. If you're going to resolve to practice a spiritual discipline, you can't just phone it in, sister. You've got to lay it all on the table. You’ve got to put your heart into it. As the prophet Joel wrote, I believe Joel 2:12, “Turned to me with your whole heart with fasting.” Hmm, there you go. 

The heart is the place where our resolve must begin, not the withholding of food or the opening of our Bible. When we approach any spiritual discipline, but fasting is mentioned specifically in this passage, we do it first not just to do it, but for the purpose of changing our heart. Then to change the world around us. Let me keep reading in Isaiah 58, so you can hear what that's gonna look like. 

It says in Isaiah 58:6, “Is this not the fasting I choose to lose the bonds of wickedness and to undo the straps of the yoke? To let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and to bring the homeless poor into your house? When you see the naked to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh, then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring forth with speedily with speed and your righteousness shall go before you and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard”

Oh, wow. Now that is what I want to be happening in and through me. You do too, don't you? So, let me invite you to get your heart in God's hands. And let me tell you what it is that has caused me to practice fasting and prayer every year for more than a decade. 

What has me doing it with my heart? It wasn't me at all. It was a handful of teenage girls. You see, almost 10 years ago, several of them came to me. They wanted to fast because they had an unsaved friend with a throat tumor, an unbelieving friend, a teen girl. And she was about to have disfiguring, life-altering surgery to remove that tumor. There wasn't any other medical option. These teenagers believed God could heal her. They asked me to lead a fast to pray for this sweet girl. 

Well, it didn't take me long to realize that I could not lead that fast, because my heart wasn't in it. I could barely believe God for what they were hoping for. But I could see something, they did believe it. They believed it with all their heart, their hearts were in the right place. They were ready to fast and pray. So, I told them, you lead. I'll follow.

For 21 days, I watched those girls put their heart into it, their hearts, not their lunches, and their desserts and their prayer time, their hearts. And I gotta tell you, our little community was changed because their hearts were changed. You know, others heard about what was happening. And they started fasting and praying with us. 

Before long, our entire Christian high school was fasting with us, then a local church. And well, it just kept going and going; it was contagious. Why? Because it was in the heart of these girls. People wanted to be alone with God and each other, not in the lunchroom eating and visiting, which is what our flesh really wants. And that by itself is a miracle, by the way. 

But there's more, 21 days later, doctors cannot explain what they saw on that girl's throat. Do you know what they saw? Nothing. They saw nothing. She was healed. And you know, I can hardly even believe I'm telling that story. I've been telling it for over a decade. Listen to me, withholding food doesn't do that. Even saying words to God doesn't do that. But putting your heart into fasting and prayer does do that. It changes us and that changes the world. 

So, I don't know what you think, but I think our world needs some changing right now. And that's not going to happen if a bunch of Christian women make shallow promises and spiritual disciplines with empty ritual. But it could happen if we pursue sacred activity with all we've got. 

Girls, let's put our hearts into it this year, because the world sure needs some change. I see tumors that need to be healed. And I bet you do too. From literal tumors, like the one in my friend's body to figurative tumors like hatred, division, selfishness, political abuse, and an insidious virus that continues to disrupt and distract us. You better believe our world needs change. We need healing to spring up quickly. And to get that, we've got to do more than cross our spiritual disciplines off the list. 

We've got to let them change our hearts. I don't know about you, but this year, I am all in, I hope you are too.

Portia: I am, I am. I'm right there with you. Dannah, thank you for such take it to the heart teaching. I hope that the women who are watching and listening are just as impacted by that as I am. 

Dannah: Thanks, Portia.

Get Grounded: Take a Challenge (50:50)

Portia: Well, something that we love to do here at Revive Our Hearts is issue challenges. Okay. There's just something about a challenge that motivates us, right? Well, I want to point you to a little hidden gem on our website. We have a plethora of 30-day challenges. Okay, we have a 30-day Grounded in Wisdom Challenge, we have the 30-day Bible Reading Challenge, we have a 30-day Husband Encouragement Challenge, the I Choose Truth Challenge, The Seeking Him Challenge. I mean, like, just take your pick guys. Okay.

We are going to drop a link in the chat in the Episode Notes for you to go and check it out. But I want you to pick a challenge, to sign up, and you will get your devotion sent straight to your inbox. All right. 

And that's just a really great way to get started putting some of these spiritual disciplines that we've been talking about today into practice.

Dannah: I love that, that is a way to go. Listen, I want a word of encouragement for those people who started a New Year's resolution and they've already admitted I'm behind, because Kathy writes in the comments, “I confess I'm a little behind this year as I read the Bible through the year with my son with special needs. He is home in South Carolina, but I'm in Florida. We FaceTime and read and praise the Lord. We've been finishing each year and hope to catch up this week.” 

And so, I just want to say if that's you, today's your day to jump back on the bus, jump back on the spiritual highway with us. Whatever it is that God's calling for you to do this year, just push reset today. 

Erin: Don’t quit, don’t quit

Dannah: Don't quit. Don't quit. Hey, I want to share a little bit of bonus good news. I know Portia was in charge of good news today. But can I add one? 

Erin: We always need all the good news we can get. 

Portia: Sure.

Dannah: Okay. Alright, you probably know that Revive Our Hearts is possible because of donors, friends of the ministry who believe in the mission of calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. And Grounded is just one of the many ministry outreaches that wouldn't be possible without financial partners. And most of the donations for our ministry come in at the end of the year. 

And in 2021 wow, did we set an audacious goal. Audacious is the only word I could use to describe it. But girls, God blessed our socks off. He used gifts of His people to help us meet that audacious goal so we can keep helping women grow in their relationship with Jesus. And that I think is the really awesome good news. 

Erin: Yeah, I want to scream, but I know some people listen to us with earbuds in, and I don't want to burst the eardrums, but I really cannot believe what God did in 2021.

Portia: It’s insane. 

Dannah: Kathy's listening right now with earbuds, so she thanks you.

Erin: So, Kathy, I’m being subdued for the sake of your ears. But I really want to bless the Lord. Okay, I won't say I won't scream, but I'm very excited. 

Portia: Me too. Me too. We just want to say thank you to all of you who gave. Honestly, thank you to Jesus, who takes care of us year after year after year. 

Erin: Yeah, no kidding. He never fails us. Well, we're going to wrap up this episode a little bit differently than normal. We're going to show you a short video highlighting some of what God has done here this year at Revive Our Hearts in 2021. And you might see a familiar face or two. I hope you enjoy, and I hope you'll celebrate with us that God really has done great things.

Well, we hope you'll hurry back next Monday and every Monday of 2022. We'll be right here to give you hope and perspective. We hope you're celebrating with us. God really has done great things.

Grounded audio is powered by Skype. Grounded is the production of Revive Our Hearts calling women to freedom, fullness and fruitfulness in Christ.

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About the Hosts

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit  Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta. 

About the Guest

Donald Whitney

Donald Whitney

Dr. Whitney is a professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has authored six books, including Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, and is a popular conference speaker, especially on personal and congregational spirituality. He served in pastoral ministry for twenty-four years.