Early in my Christian walk, I never heard the words “Spiritual Practice”. I heard words like Quiet time ~ Prayer ~ Worship, but not Spiritual Practice. As I matured, and, began looking outside my church, the words Spiritual DISCIPLINE came to light. I learned of a book by Richard Foster called Celebration of Discipline, but frankly, I never thought the words “Celebrate” and “Discipline” should be used together!! Who wants to CELEBRATE DISCIPLINE!!?? RIGHT!!?? ~ Of course, I am mostly kidding, and I respect Richard Foster and his writings, but I was still unsure of this idea.
Beginning about 4 years ago I started down a path that taught me new things. I learned words like: Liturgy, Holy Space, Lectio Divina, Kingdom Living, Spiritual Journey, Listening prayer, Meditation (previously I had only heard Meditation in a negative way), Practicing the Presence of God, Christian Spiritual Formation and started thinking things like
What WOULD my friend Jesus say?
What DOES my friend Jesus say?
I learned processes like “Spiritual Practice” ~ “Rhythm of Life” and things and ideas that were much more grace-filled.
Much more life-giving.
I began a path to learn the Spiritual Practices I do today. I have an entirely different Rhythm of Life. I start most days with a prayer card of prayers that I pray. I read from the Book of Common Prayer. I read other daily reading books as well. I spend time in silence, listening to what Jesus might have to say for that day. After I read & pray, I might listen to a podcast as I ride my exercise bike.
One of my favorite Spiritual Practices, that I do not take time to practice NEAR often enough, is Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina is taking a passage of scripture and reading it more than once. Each time you read it, reflecting more & more deeply on what God is possibly showing you with this passage. Maybe an idea, a feeling, or intention you want to embrace out of that scripture.
One of the things I MOST enjoy doing is visualizing myself IN the Bible Story. WHICH character am I? And visualizing ME AS that person (for example, I am Zacchaeus up IN the tree, or maybe I am ON the boat as Jesus walks on the water towards the boat, AM I Peter, do I try to join him? Am I afraid? Or maybe I am his Mother, Mary at the foot of the cross). Another way is to “Observe” as if I were a fly on the wall, observing all that is happening. What do I hear, taste, touch, or smell?
For more help learning about Lectio Divina, one of my favorite resources is the book, “Meeting God in Scripture: A Hands-0n Guide to Lectio Divina” By Jan Johnson.
As I have embraced these, new to me, spiritual practices it is almost difficult for me to put into words what God has done to shape me into the person I am, compared to the person I was.
I have always loved Jesus, as long as I can remember.
I have always believed that Jesus was the son of God, as long as I can remember.
But, the difference between my Spiritual journey before I began these Spiritual Practices and since I have been doing them is unbelievable. I FEEL Jesus beside me. When I have my personal time with Him, I KNOW He is there. That song “He walks with me and He talks with me and He hears me when I pray.” I LIVE THAT in a way I never lived it before.
As a very busy, ‘gotta get the next thing done’ person. I am more relaxed now. I find myself much more forgiving of myself if I am running late somewhere. I relax INTO what I am doing. I am MUCH more present WITH the person, situation, or what I am doing than I was before. Do I still find myself running crazy sometimes? Well of course. Do I have to remind myself to relax into things sometimes?
I am still the same person I was before. I still have the same personality and the same challenges, but the deep abiding changes I feel inside of myself are impossible to deny. And, speaking of the person I AM, God created me this way. That is the other thing I realize is that GOD MADE me the ‘gotta get the next thing done’ person and THAT is also ok! I just need to put HIM FIRST and everything else falls into place.
For this you need: A vase or large glass
Enough large rocks to fill the glass
Enough pebbles to fill most of the glass
A glass of water to fill most of the glass Pour the water into the glass. AFTER you have the water in there, add all the large and small rocks, WITHOUT spilling ANY of the water out, does not work, does it? However, try it this way:
FIRST, place the large rocks IN the glass.
THEN, Pour the small pebbles, and they will go around the rocks in the glass.
AND then, pour the water around all of the rocks.
It is easier to do when you SEE it, but ~ WHEN you do the things in this order, you CAN fit it all in.
You have probably guessed it, but the LARGE rocks represent the Spiritual Practice(s) you want to add to your life. The small pebbles represent the other important things in your life, your family, friendships, etc. AND the water represents the other things you need to do. Like your job, housework, responsibilities.
There is a time and a place to get it ALL in when the FIRST things happen first.
One last thing I want to mention that I have learned: WE ARE ALL BEING SPIRITUALLY FORMED, every day it is happening. It’s just a matter of WHAT or WHO we want influencing that formation.
*Photo Credit Daniel Salcius from Unsplash
Deb Shirkey lives in Wichita, KS with her husband Mike. She is a Director with Tupperware and her husband is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She is also on the Board of an amazing non-profit organization called Family Promise that helps homeless families with children get back on their feet in a real, sustainable way. Deb and her husband have two amazing adult daughters, Shawntel and Kalyn, who is married to her favorite son-in-law, Adrian.