Posted by: Philip Rushton | January 7, 2013

Rediscovering the Spiritual Practices

Luke 11: 1 “Lord, teach us how to pray . . .”

Growing up in the church I longed to have a deeper spiritual life but I did not know how to grow. People talked about the importance of prayer, scripture reading, and “doing devotions,” but it was never explained to me. It seemed as if it was just assumed that we should know how to pray.

Part of the reason why I did not learn these practices was because my evangelical heritage was somewhat suspicious of this kind of instruction. My church emphasized spontaneity in the spiritual life, so actual discussion about how to pray was deemed inauthentic. The result, however, was that I had no grounding in the basics of the spiritual life. In the name of spontaneity I had received mediocrity.

It was not until my early years in college that I discovered that there were all kinds of wonderful resources out there to teach us about the different spiritual practices of our Christian faith. It all started when I read Richard Fosters classic, A Celebration of Discipline, where he draws on 2000 years of rich teaching about how to pray, meditate on scripture, fast, practice the Sabbath and experience many other the other spiritual practices. I discovered, like the disciples did in Luke 11, that I needed to be taught how to do things like pray.

What is more, I discovered that learning these spiritual practices did not impede the spontaneity of living with God but actually enhanced it. Like a jazz musician, I needed to learn some basic scales before I could experience the freedom of improvising. It is important to note that the vibrant, charismatic disciples we see in the book of Acts sustained their spiritual life with regular rhythms of prayer. In Acts 3:1 we see that the disciples practiced daily prayers at the temple.

I suspect that many of you have a desire to grow in your understanding of the spiritual practices. When I surveyed the congregation to find out what topics they would like to see covered in our adult education classes, a course on prayer and the spiritual practices made the top 3. What is more, many of you indicated in our survey that you were experiencing a disconnect between your desire to pray and your ability to sustain a meaningful prayer life.

sacredwauStarting this week I am going to lead an interactive study on the major spiritual practices of the Christian faith. We will take time looking at different ways to practice solitude and silence, practice simplicity, meditate on scripture, fast, practice the Sabbath, and so on. I will be drawing on a number of resources including Tony Jones’ book The Sacred Way: Spiritual practices for everyday life, Brian McClaren’s, Finding our Way Again: The return of the ancient practices, and Richard Foster’s, Celebration of Discipline.

Along with this, we will also be discussing some of the contemporary challenges we face in implementing these practices. We will have some discussions about the spirituality challenge the cell phone, how to use media wisely, and how to incorporate spiritual rhythms into our busy schedules. In this course you will be encouraged to try out these practices throughout the week and share about your experiences when we gather together.

This course will begin on Wednesday January 9 at 6:45 pm after our simple supper. We will be meeting weekly in the journey room adjacent to the fellowship hall. If this is something you think would help you on your spiritual journey we would love to have you join us!

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Responses

  1. It would be fantastic if an opportunity like this could be repeated at another day and time during the week for those of us who have other commitments (ie choir) and are not able to attend on Wednesday evenings.
    merry

  2. Hi Merry,
    Glad you are interested in the material. At the very least I can give you some resources for you to explore this on your own time. But perhaps there will be a time in the near future to repeat it at another time!

  3. okay, will books be available? or are you printing out some handouts?
    Shannon

    • Hi Shannon,

      I have not ordered books but will be making handouts available for people on Wednesday nights. I’ll be photocopying select chapters from a variety of books. If you aren’t around Wednesday’s let me know and I will get some resources to you!

      • Phil, Please add me to your resource list….email perhaps??
        much thanx
        merry


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