Discuss your experience today learning about and trying some spiritual practices. What practices made you comfortable or uncomfortable (learning about or practicing), and why? How can you incorporate some of these spiritual practices into your daily life?
So today in class we discussed the book Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson which lays out spiritual practices for those who have never heard of them, and yet does it in a way that is not only for the novice but the expert and the teacher as well as one of my classmates said.
Practices discussed in Soul Feast are reading the word, prayer, worship, sabbath, fasting, self-examination, confession, Spiritual Direction, and hospitality.
Marjorie Thompson explains Lectio Divina, which is Divine reading, a way of reading scripture that focuses us on words and phrases. In the past, I have done Lectio Divina in a group setting where different voices read the scripture to us. Doing this individually is a little strange for me as my internal voice is usually always the same and one of the things I love about Lectio Divina is to hear the scripture and not read it. And to hear it from different voices with different inflections and emphasis. It opens the scripture in new ways and helps me to see passages from a different point of view than I have before. However we get into scripture it should be a daily thing. I have found myself reading the scriptures as I prepare my devotional. This allows me to freshly engage the scripture and see it from a different point of view given the circumstances of the world around us.
Prayer as explained by Thompson is communication with God. Good communication is both talking and listening. I know a lot of my prayer time is spent talking and not listening. When I lead prayer at Treehouse and we have extended silence I feel like people are looking at me, maybe to see if I have fallen asleep, or have lost my place when actually I am leaving space, but I feel self-conscious about what is happening and don’t leave a lot of space. But we need to fight the urges of pleasing others and allow God to speak to us. Thompson talks about journalling as prayer. Writing down our intimate thoughts between us and God is a way of communicating. And we can then go back and read those thoughts and see how God has influenced our lives and how we have grown and changed. Another form of prayer that Thompson spoke about, which I dearly love, is centering prayer. Centering prayer is where you choose a word or simple phrase as a way to bring yourself back or focus, and then you sit in a comfortable place and sit in silence, and if your mind starts to wander you just focus on the word or phrase to bring yourself back. This is a way I get to be silent with God but I do not do this as often as I would like. I have led spiritual practices workshops at Treehouse in the past and centering prayer is one of my favorite things to lead. And I think the students enjoyed it as they commented about sitting in silence being hard before we do it and when we finished they wanted to do it again. Other forms of prayer Thompson touches on are writing your own psalm or paraphrase a psalm, write a conversation between you and a Biblical character.
Worship is a form of spiritual practice as it helps us see how God lives in relationship and we need to be in relationship too.
Sabbath or rest is a practice I think we find hardest to do today. We are always in a hurry to get somewhere to do something. And yet, God created the sabbath for us. And Thompson says it best I think when she points out that the sacred rhythm of our lives starts in Sabbath and goes to our vocation or calling in the world (Thompson p. 72). Do we rest?
There are so many ways for us to connect with God. I have done worship, Lectio Divina, centering prayer, prayer of presence, and I try to do sabbath. These practices sometimes seem forced and other times seem freeing. It is in the moments they are freeing that we actually connect to God. I think if we start with something that is easy for us to do and then build after repetition we will see these habits form in our lives.
I am going to try and do a walk, at least, 3 times a week where I pray and focus on what God has to say to me. I have also intentionally taken Fridays off and do not read or respond to emails, on my work account, or to apps that pertain to work. I try to focus time on that day on my family and not doing work, however, this Doctor of Ministry has proven to be a bit overwhelming right now so I do do class work on Fridays.
I honestly believe we need to work on getting a spiritual aspect back into our daily routine. I know I continue to write my daily devotional blog because I know there are people who read that and I do not want them to not have that so they can stay engaged with God’s word. I know getting us over the fact that religion is not just gathering for worship, but also us daily connecting to God we will all deepen our faith and grow into the community that God has created us to be.
I will focus on my walks and writing my devotionals as well as continuing to make pocket roseries.