Introductory Note:

This selective, topical index is designed to help readers get a picture of the with-God life presented in the Bible and the role of the Spiritual Disciplines in fostering that kind of life toward its fullness. The passages listed either contain a specific reference to a topic serving as a discipline (e.g., the word “meditation”) or are about that topic without using the specific term. Because this index is selective, it does not list every passage in the Bible on each topic, and the entries are restricted to the topic’s role as a Spiritual Discipline. Some of the entries are negative examples of the practice of a particular discipline.

The list of disciplines chosen for this index also does not include every practice or situation that could actually serve as a discipline in the process of spiritual formation. The disciplines under consideration here include celebration, chastity, confession (below), fasting, fellowship, guidance, meditation, prayer, sacrifice, secrecy, service, silence, simplicity/frugality, solitude, study, submission, and worship. Since the central focus of Christian spiritual formation is the with-God life, that topic begins the index.

Each section contains scriptural references for the various disciplines, in alphabetical order. Those references for which there are spiritual formation exercises are designated by an asterisk.

No doubt some passages may have been omitted that might be very useful for understanding spiritual formation. What is given here is intended to provide only a substantial introduction to the presence and importance of Spiritual Disciplines in the Bible. For further study on disciplines and how they are to be practiced, please see Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, and Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines.

Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Life with God Spiritual Formation Bible
CONFESSION: Sharing our deepest weaknesses and failures with God and trusted others, so that we may enter into God’s grace and mercy and experience his ready forgiveness and healing.

*Genesis 45:25 – 28 

And they told him, Joseph is still alive!”

*Leviticus 5:5

When you realize your guilt in any of these, you shall confess the sin that you have committed. 

Numbers 5:7

Confess the sin that has been committed.… Make full restitution for the wrong, adding one fifth to it, and giving it to the one who was wronged. 

1 Kings 8:33

Your people Israel, having sinned against you, are defeated before an enemy but turn again to you, confess your name, pray and plead with you in this house. 

*2 Chronicles 6:26 – 27 

They have sinned against you, and then they pray toward this place, confess your name, and turn from their sin, because you punish them. 

*Ezra 10:1

Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God. 

*Nehemiah 1:6 – 7 

Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. 

Psalm 32:5

Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. 

Psalm 38:18

I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. 

*Proverbs 28:13

No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. 

*Ezekiel 33:10

Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live? 

*Daniel 9:20

I was speaking, and was praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God on behalf of the holy mountain of my God. 

*Hosea 14:2

Take words with you and return to the Lord; say to him, Take away all guilt; accept that which is good, and we will offer the fruit of our lips.”

Matthew 3:6

They were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 

*Mark 1:5

And people… were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 

Luke 12:1 – 5 

Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 

*Luke 12:8 – 9 

Everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God. 

*Romans 10:9 – 10 

If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 

*Hebrews 10:23

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 

James 5:16

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. 

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

*1 John 4:15

God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 

Excerpted from the Life with God Bible (New Revised Standard Version), with special thanks to HarperOne and to the late Dallas Willard who compiled the Index.

Text First Published May 2005