All cannot use the same kind of spiritual exercises, but one suits this person, and another that. Different devotions are suited also to the seasons, some being best for the festivals, and others for ordinary days. We find some helpful in temptations, others in peace and quietness. Some things we like to consider when we are sad, and others when we are full of joy in the Lord.
Thomas a Kempis
It was while reading Richard Foster’s, Celebration of Discipline that it first struck me that the Christian faith is more of a quest than a destination and that in this centuries old journey people of the Christian tradition have developed spiritual practices to seek greater communion and connection with God. As a result, there is a rich diversity of Christian spiritual practices, heavily influenced by times, circumstances, and the people who have met God in the midst of these practices.
Incorporating these new ways (to me) of praying, meditating, reflecting, experiencing, and reading scripture fueled a closer relationship with God and a new passion for the inner spiritual life than I had ever imagined possible. Marjorie Thompson, author of Soul Feast, describes the inner spiritual life as “simply the increasing vitality and sway of God’s Spirit in us. It is a magnificent choreography of the Holy Spirit and the human spirit, moving us toward communion with both Creator and creation. The inner spiritual life is thus grounded in relationship. It has to do with God’s way of relating to us and our way of responding to God.”
Words like discipline, exercise, and practice are common metaphors for God communing and connecting activities. I prefer the term “practice” because of its relationship to the athletic imagery used by the Apostle Paul. As with any sport, the more you practice, the better you get. You get in better spiritual shape the more you practice. You can listen to countless sermons and read innumerable books, but true transformation and real communion with the Creator happens only as we practice spiritual activities that connect us to God and His ways.
Most of us have experienced the benefit of practicing an instrument, sport, skill, or game and becoming better and better as a result. I suggest you think of the spiritual life in the same way, committing to practice regularly a few of the 25 Practices To Nurture The Inner Spiritual Life you can find by clicking here. Some, like Lectio Divina and the Jesus Prayer, have been practiced for centuries. Others are more contemporary and individualized expressions and variations of classic spiritual practices. What is the payoff? Henri Nouwen describes it best:
In the spiritual life, the word “discipline” means “the effort to create some space in which God can act.” Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you are not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied. In the spiritual life, discipline means to create space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on.
There you have it. Incorporating new spiritual practices into your spiritual regimen can create the space for a mystical connection, communion, and union with God that allows for something to happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on!
Posted on November 6, 2018