As a follow up to Robert Mulholland’s definition of spiritual formation it is good to hear his counsel regarding spiritual disciplines.
“Let me clarify the nature of a spiritual discipline, because here our cultural shaping distorts our understanding. We tend to think of spiritual disciplines as something that we are doing to transform ourselves…. If we’re thinking we are changing ourselves by offering the spiritual discipline, we are deluding ourselves…. A genuine spiritual discipline is a discipline of loving obedience offered to God with no strings attached. We put no conditions on it. We put no time limits on it. We add no expectation of how we want God to change us through it. We simply offer the discipline to God, and keep on offering it for as long as God wants us to keep on…. When we continue to offer the discipline, that discipline becomes a means of grace through which God works and moves to transform that dead portion of our body into life in the image of Christ. One morning you wake up and discover, often to your amazement, that the discipline is no longer a discipline; it is now the natural outflow of a being that has risen to new life in Christ…. You did not do it. God did it. But God did it through the discipline you offered.”
from Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation by M. Robert Mulholland, Jr, pp 131-133.