Exodus 90 is a ninety-day spiritual exercise for men based on three pillars: prayer, asceticism, and fraternity. All three of these pillars are essential aspects of the Christian life. It is for this reason that taking up this spiritual exercise requires taking up all three of these pillars both simultaneously and humbly.
As men, we are called to participate in a unique way in Christ’s headship. Are you the spiritual leader you need to be? Should your friends and family trust the decisions you make? Should they trust that you will lead them where the Lord is calling them to go, in good times and in bad? Without a life firmly rooted in prayer it is nearly impossible to know where God is leading you. Without a life of daily prayer, it is even harder to be confident that you know where the Lord is asking you to lead your friends and family at any given moment. It’s time to start praying.
During Exodus 90 you will build up a habit of daily prayer. You will commit to praying a holy hour each day. If you can’t do an entire holy hour on a given day, do as much as you can. With a minimum of twenty minutes of silent prayer both speaking to and actively listening to the Lord.
In addition, you will read through the book of Exodus part by part each day. The scripture will be accompanied by a daily reflection. The reflection will help you comprehend the scripture for that day, understand where you are within the spiritual journey, and lead you into that day’s time of prayer with our Lord.
Stay faithful to daily prayer and you will grow in your ability to hear God speaking. This grace and ability will help you live out the spiritual headship our Lord is calling you to as a man.
Asceticism can be simply defined as acts of self-denial. All Christians are called to practice asceticism in some way, even outside of Lent. Beyond growing in freedom and self-mastery, within Exodus 90 you will practice asceticism in two ways, as penance and as offering. Ascetic disciplines help us practice penance for our own sinfulness through concrete outward actions. They also help us make tangible offerings for the good of others, more than praying fruitfully does alone.
The ascetic disciplines laid out in Exodus 90 help each man to detach from the things of the world. The disciplines cover most aspects of our daily lives to help prevent us from turning from one temporal dependency to another. Along with the disciplines for daily prayer, the ascetic disciplines help us turn from the things of this world to God—from that which will never truly satisfy, to the only one who does.
In accord with the disciplines for prayer and fraternity, here are some of the ascetic disciplines during Exodus 90:
-Practice regular exercise.
-Get a full night’s sleep (at least seven hours is recommended).
-Abstain from alcohol.
-Abstain from desserts and sweets.
-Abstain from soda or sweet drinks (white milk, black coffee, and black tea are permissible).
-Abstain from television, movies, video games, or televised sports.
-Abstain from non-essential material purchases.
-Only use mobile devices for essential communications; cut out non-essential texting, app, and internet use
-Take Wednesdays and Fridays as days of fasting. (Abstain from meat and only eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.)
A man living out the ascetic disciplines above without living the disciplines for prayer and fraternity would be doing something, but he would not be doing Exodus 90. Exodus 90 is equally an exercise in prayer as it is in asceticism, and in asceticism as it is in fraternity. Just as we need all three to live out the Christian life, so too we need all three to take up Exodus 90.
This essential aspect of the Christian life is one of the most obvious and yet overlooked aspects of the Christian life today. When we challenge each other to do what is good and hold each other accountable to doing it, great fruits consistently come about. Great fruits, not just for us, but for our entire community. On the other hand, when we isolate ourselves and are held accountable to no one, our lives become a self-serving mess and our community suffers.
During Exodus 90 you will practice fraternity with 5-7 other men in your area. This is not a warm and cuddly, “I’m ok, you’re ok, so we’re all ok” type of fraternity. This is an authentic, “the time is now,” knees on the marble, type of fraternity. A fraternity where men step out of their comfort zone and into the light. A fraternity where accountability brings forth authentic masculinity.
Where will you find men to make this journey with you? You are the protagonist. You will ask God where to find your brothers, and then you will go and intentionally ask them. In your church, your workplace, your club, your family, or your favorite bar, wherever the Lord is calling you to find your brothers, go there and make the invitation.
As a fraternity, you will meet every week for a fraternity meeting. These meetings usually take an hour but can be done in as little as thirty minutes with the “Weekly Meeting Guide.” In addition, you will pair up with one man in your fraternity. That man is your anchor and you are his. Every day you will check in with each other with a text, a call, or in person. Like an anchor in rock climbing and mountaineering, you should be a strong and reliable anchor for your brother. If he starts to fall, you need to be ready to hold his weight, lest you both hit the ground.
The Christian life is not easy. You need brothers and they need you.
Research on the neuroplasticity of the brain shows us that breaking old habits and building new ones is possible. Effectiveness studies on rehabilitation centers show us that creating good habits and gaining the ability to retain them for the long term takes time. One month is not enough. Forty days are not enough. Ninety days serves as an industry benchmark for where new good habits are finally able to not only be implemented but also sustained. That is if a man is willing to choose to keep up the good habits and that which successfully supports them. For the Christian, this is a life of prayer, asceticism, and fraternity.
These ninety days of Exodus are a starting line, not a finish line. Enter into them well and they will help you begin your new life of freedom in Jesus Christ.