Summer brings a rush of relief from a busy Fall and Winter (which is soon to be around the corner). Summer also brings us more margin, allowing us to engage in activities that Fall or Winter kept us from. But summer can also be a time when we fill those margins so full with activities, desiring to experience all that we could before fall arrives. Ironically this leaves us feeling exhausted and surprised at how “fast” the summer went by. As I wrote in the previous blog What our souls need more than beachsides and margaritas this summer is that our summers can also be a time to feed our souls.
I know for many of us, our brains are fully in summer mode and maybe even resisting the thought of a fall schedule. But let’s take hold of the next couple weeks and build a new habit that will feed our soul and bring a new sense of peace to your busy fall.
Why Practice Spiritual Practices
When Paul spoke about being rooted and established in love to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 3:14-21), he was not merely talking about do’s and don’ts but addressing a new way of being in the world. As followers of Jesus, we have new eyes to see the world and a completely transformed way of processing the happenings around us. We are called by God to live in this new way of seeing and knowing. However, our ability to slip back into the old blurry vision we once had before we knew Christ, is far too easy especially if we take a casual and leisure approach to our faith. We cannot approach the throne of grace causally and expect God to change us or for us to grow in our faith. This is where spiritual practices can take a feeble and fickle faith to a level of strength and resiliency. We become rooted and established in the love of God. Spiritual Practices alone are not what hold us firm to the Father, only the blood of our resurrected Savior can do that but they consistently draw us to the truth that we are radically loved by God which changes everything, establishing a new world order and enabling us to walk in it.
Spiritual Practices are also known as Spiritual Disciplines but I prefer the word “practice”. Perhaps it’s because I have a Bachelors in Music and practicing is what you do to become more competent and confident in any skill. When we engage in spiritual practices we strengthen our faith and gain greater confidence in God. These practices include activities like fasting, silence & solitude, scripture reading & study, meditation, and journaling. Just to mention a few.
Be Mindful of The Approach
Many look at a list and feel a sense of dread come over them but that’s because we are starting in the wrong place. When we approach these practices, we often take an inventory of our life, our personality, our strengths, and weakness, and then judge ourselves accordingly. We either deem ourselves capable and make these practices into tasks that we proudly accomplish. I call this group the Capable Christians. Or we simply disqualify ourselves before we even enter the race believing that we would fail so why try. This group is called the Crushed Christians. There is a third party approach however that I would like to address which I think may be the most difficult: those who see very little need to engage the spiritual practices. They look at a list of spiritual practices and shrug their shoulders with a sense of apathy. They are completely content with a mediocre faith. Friends, unfortunately, this group is larger than you think because they hide in our churches and are faithful attendees of their small group. This group is called the Casual Christians.
When it comes to these spiritual practices we must not start with our own capabilities because our hunger for achievement will overthrow our hunger for a Savoir. We also can’t begin with our inadequacies because we end up declaring ourselves unfit to even begin, making ourselves judge when only God has that role. And for those who see no need, there is only one way to get around that: repent and ask God to make your heart more pliable.
All three groups (speaking of confession, I totally fall into the Capable Christian group if your wondering) is ultimately trying to do these practices through our own flesh. We did not begin walking with Jesus in the flesh but by the Spirit,
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? ~ Galations 3:3
It is far too tempting for us who were called by God through the Spirit to work out our faith in the flesh. The flesh is what we see and feel and know so intimately but what if we are able to know the Spirit more intimately than our own bodies?! What if our mind and hearts are so raptured by God’s love that we easily can distinguish our fleshy thoughts from that of the Holy Spirit’s? How amazing would that be? Well, these Spiritual Practices are not just a form of anger management or rehab for our flesh but our way of participating in our Divine nature that is the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.
How to Begin
The only place to start these practices is grace.
But then you actually have to do something.
That means scheduling them. Preparing for them by having a plan. Ask for accountability from a friend. Taking whatever measures you have for them to be apart of a regular life rhythm. That might mean saying “no” to something else (like Netflix for example which has always been my weakness).
But remember you have to start with grace and end with grace.
So let’s get started!
As one who loves to accomplish goals, I have realized I do best by starting small and building from there. I keep the big picture in mind but create a 5-minute goal to accomplish! Here are a few great suggestions on where begin:
GOAL: 2x a week for two weeks and go from there. These are a few practices I recommend you begin with and some even have apps!
Centering Prayer (Prayer & Listening)
A method of silent prayer that prepares our hearts for contemplation. This type of prayer is more about being than doing. Being with God and His presence with no agenda. Read more about Centering Prayer.
- 5 minutes of Centering Prayer 2x per week (Prayer & Contemplation) – start small and build from there. Add more time or more days when you feel ready.
- Try this APP: Centering Prayer App
Lection Divino (Scripture & Contemplation)
The underlying process of Lectio Divina engages the whole person before Christ as it flows through the four R’s as we slowly read, silently reflect, prayerfully respond, and simply rest in God’s presence.
Read Scripture (Study)
- She Reads Truth: Whatever current plan – keep in mind this is daily but pretty doable. They have a blog, app, and a newsletter – sign up here
- The Bible App also has great reading plans.
Memorize Scripture (Reading & Meditation)
- Grab a plan in the Shop. I suggest the 1 Corinthians 13 plan to begin with and take your time if you are new to memorizing scripture. Do one or two cards a week.
Plan ahead. Schedule it. Begin!
Like any other goal, you need preparation and a time scheduled. I pray that you will engage in these practices and over time they become apart of your life rhythms.
Godspeed, my friends!
Photo by Allen Taylor on Unsplash