Spiritual disciplines, and the practice of spiritual formation in general, is a very personal thing. The types of spiritual exercises that benefit one are not necessarily the ones that nurture another. I have even found that in different seasons of my life different approaches to devotion and piety are often required. Still, there is an aspect of "ancient wisdom" that I keep coming back to: it is the "sandwiching" of my day between a time of morning and evening prayer.
It was years ago when I first noticed this ancient trend. The Book of Common Prayer has services of "morning prayer and evening prayer." the Methodist Book of Worship has services of "morning praise and evening praise." My favorite prayer book, A Diary of Private Prayer, has, (on a 30 day cycle) a prayer for the morning and one for the evening. And my favorite Bible reading plan, The Robert Murray Mc'Cheyne Year With the Bible, has a "reading for the morning" and a "reading for the evening." All of these great devotional books are pointing to the discipline of beginning and ending one's day with Bible reading and prayer.
The simple fact is, when I follow this approach I am more at peace, my attitude is better, and I feel that I'm growing spiritually. When I neglect this discipline I find that things tend to "fall apart." I have discovered this reality through years of trial and error. But at this point I am pretty clear about the fact that neglecting my times of morning and evening prayer simply doesn't work for me. The ancient practice of morning and evening prayer is one from which I find great benefit.
For you a different approach might be required. I am convinced that no one plan works best for everyone. But whatever approach to spiritual growth you choose, I would encourage you to consider some path of ancient wisdom. You might just find, as I have, that we don't always have to "reinvent the wheel." Some ancient traditions truly are sources of wisdom for us today.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.