The word "discipline" has gotten a bad rap in our contemporary culture. When we think of discipline we automatically equate it with punishment. For example, we discipline our children for bad behavior. However, discipline does not mean to punish, it actually means to teach or to instruct. When we discipline our children we are instructing them on correcting their behavior. The word disciple is from the same root word. As Christians we are disciples of Jesus and he instructs or teaches us. If there is no discipline there are no disciples.
Our Christian heritage is rich with the practice of spiritual disciplines. However, Post-Reformation we lost a depth of traditional practices that led to a deepening of our faith. Our practice of spiritual discipline became anemic and we focused primarily on the study of the Word of God. Don't get me wrong, that's not a bad thing, however spiritual disciplines help us ground the Word of God deeply into our being. They help us to bring our thoughts, words, habits, and behaviors under the banner of God.
Spiritual Disciplines are practices we can use to help us be less self centered, they teach us to think of others more as we learn to live from our center in Christ. The function of spiritual disciplines are to make us more like Christ. When performed with intention, they play a major role in helping us be transformed more and more into the image of Christ.
Don't worry, spiritual disciplines are not yet another thing we have to add to our already overburdened lives. There is no separate spiritual life from your everyday life. It is all spiritual. Developing and practicing disciplines help us remember to live in the Spirit of God. The way of Jesus is the way of love. Spiritual practices help us lean more deeply into the practice of love. They help us love with our whole being.