Editor's 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, fasting, fellowship, guidance, meditation, prayer, sacrifice, secrecy, service, silence, simplicity/frugality, solitude, study, submission (listed below), 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
SUBMISSION: Subordination to the guidance of God; within the Christian fellowship, a constant mutual subordination out of reverence for Christ, which opens the way for particular subordination to those who are qualified to direct our efforts toward Christlikeness and who then add the weight of their wise authority on the side of our willing spirit to help us do the things we would like to do and refrain from doing the things we don’t want to do.

Genesis 13:8–18*

“Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” So Abram moved his tent, and came and settled.

Genesis 15:9–14 

“Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram…” He brought him all these.

Genesis 16:9 

Return to your mistress, and submit to her.

2 Kings 18:31–32*

Do not listen to Hezekiah… “Make your peace with me and come out to me.”

Esther 1:12*

Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command.

Psalm 81:11

My people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.

Proverbs 1:8–9

Hear, my child, your father’s instruction.

Proverbs 6:20–21* 

My child, keep your father’s commandment, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

Ecclesiastes 8:8 

No one has power over the wind to restrain the wind, or power over the day of death.

Isa 28:15–18* 

I am laying in Zion a… sure foundation: “One who trusts will not panic.”

Matthew 6:10 

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 26:39 

My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me: yet not what I want but what you want.

Luke 1:38* 

Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.

Luke 1:46–56 

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Romans 8:7 

The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law.

Galatians 2:5* 

We did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you.

Ephesians 5:21–6:9 

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Colossians 3:18–24 

Wives, be subject to your husbands… Husbands, love your wives… Children obey your parents.

1 Timothy 3:4* 

He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way.

Titus 2:9 

Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect.

Hebrews 5:7 

Jesus offered up prayers and supplications… and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Hebrews 13:17 

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account.

James 4:7* 

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

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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.

Photo by pan xiaozhen on Unsplash.