Spiritual Disciplines

Hello friends,

Yesterday was a kind of a rough day on me, at least in the opening sections. I'm not even really sure why. Perhaps it was the stress of the day mixed in with some nerves over a teaching I was giving on social networking (incidentally, if you were at said teaching, the slides are available right now at www.befreeveritas.com), or perhaps it was something else, but I just had this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach like something was wrong and I couldn't place it.

What do you do when you have these days? Where do you turn?

This is why having spiritual disciplines is so important, and why I get so nervous when I realize how bad I am at it. A good baseball player has rehearsed every situation that could possibly come his way so that in a game situation, he's not thinking he's just reacting. The reason we commit scripture to memory, the reason we work through a liturgy of prayers, the reason we spend time in meditation is because when a game day situation arises, we will be prepared.

So what are some of the spiritual disciplines you can involve yourself with? I'm going to list a few that I want to work on, and perhaps we can work through them together.

1. Scripture Memorization
I have often brushed this aside in the past, partly because when I was growing up there were bible trivia teams in my church. There were actual competitions to see who had memorized the most scripture. But as I looked at these kids who had spent hours and hours memorizing scriptures and bible verses, I realized that very few of them knew what it meant. So I kind of wrote this discipline off.

It's only in recent days that I've really started to think about it seriously. If you memorize a piece of scripture, you can carry it with you everywhere you go. You don't need to open up a bible at every second to check on a particular wording. I think it's important to memorize not just quick verses that can quickly be taken out of context, but to memorize entire passages or stories. Right now, I'm going to try to work on memorizing the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7), because that seems to be where I turn most often when I need some comfort or some assurance.

2. Journaling
I used to be in this habit, but something as of late has gotten in the way. Keeping a journal is a great way for those of us who work in the writing world to get some prayers and some thoughts out on paper. You can write out your prayers, keep ideas for later, or even straight out diary it up! This has always been helpful when I take one of my silent retreats, something that I need to do a bit more often as well.

3. Prayer Liturgy
For a little while, I was working through a series of books called the Divine Hours. These are a set of prayers that you work through in sequence through the day. It's helpful, because often times I can relate to the Psalmist in Psalm 77, where I tried to open my mouth but no words would come. Often times, unless something is wrong in my world, I don't exactly know what to pray for. And yet opening up the communication lines with God is an important part of every day. So having someone offer the text is fairly helpful from day to day.

What did I miss? Are there spiritual disciplines that you've found helpful that aren't listed here? I'd love to hear them!

Also, if you're looking for new ideas, my good friend Ed Cyzewski did a great series on 5 minute retreats a little while ago at his blog, and I would absolutely recommend checking them out.




Luke said...

The spiritual discipline of solitude is one of my favorites. It's simple and does so much good. I guess it would be better called "soaking sessions." The act of sitting and listening to the Holy Spirit speak words, images, and situations into your life.

Let your mind unwind and your heart open up to what God longs to tell you!