Friday, February 26, 2021

Spiritual Practices to Accompany Your Word of the Year. And Life


Spiritual Practices to Accompany Your Word of the Year. And Life

This month we have looked at exploring our word of the year in God's Word. We have done word studies, made Bible studies for our intentions, selected a theme Bible verse or passage and looked at how to study it, and today we are going to look at developing spiritual disciplines to accompany our word.

The term spiritual disciplines has been around for a long time. Depending on your faith tradition or denomination, practicing spiritual disciplines may or may not be a familiar practice. Simply put, spiritual disciplines are the practices we take part in that draw us closer to God and that put us in a position to be transformed by God. Ruth Haley Barton puts it like this in her book, Sacred Rhythms:
"I cannot transform myself...What I can do is create the conditions in which spiritual transformation can take place, by developing and maintaining a rhythm of spiritual practices that keep me open and available to God." 

 We won't change, we won't grow more Christ-like, we won't live a holy life by doing nothing or by simply saying we are a Christian. We have to put action to our words and to our life. The actions in and of themselves do not make us holy, produce change, or transform us into Christ-likeness, but they do help open our hearts, minds and wills to God, who is the One who transforms us.  God calls us throughout the Bible to live a holy life and it takes training on our part.

"Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)

The above verse is just one example. I won't go in depth into the spiritual disciplines for there are many, many good books on them. I'll add a list of books from my library at the end of this post. 

I have practiced spiritual disciplines for years. There have been times in my life when some of the disciplines were needed more than others. Each year when I have chosen my word and set my intentions for living out my word, I begin to think about which spiritual disciplines will benefit me in relation to how I have sensed God leading me for the year. 

I do have some that have become regular parts of my everyday life for drawing me closer to the Lord. Disciplines such as Bible study, solitude and giving have become naturals for me, but I do need to be diligent in making time for them, I don't have to work hard at practicing them because they have just become vital parts in my flow of life. But there are others that God moves me towards at times that don't come as naturally to me. Disciplines such as engaging in community or practicing fasting of things that have a hold on me during Lent don't come as naturally, but are so good for stretching my faith and leaning more on Jesus. In recent years I have added times of memorizing Scripture, which is a way of meditating on God through His Word. I felt God calling me to memorize Scripture a few years ago as a way to remind me to pray more often. Prayer is another discipline that just doesn't come naturally to me. But, there is a reason why they are called disciplines, they require intention and focus and determination on our part to make them a part of our lives. And by being intentional about practicing them, God uses them to help shape and form us into righteousness and holiness.

Here is just a brief list of some of the spiritual disciplines mentioned in the Bible and in the books written on the topic: Bible intake - reading or studying, prayer, fasting, meditation, serving, solitude, silence, simplicity, giving or generosity, celebration, worship, confession, fellowship or community. And the list can go on and on. These are just some that have been written about the most.

For my word this year, rhythm, I want to actually re-connect with some of the spiritual practices I have some to rely on. It felt like the flow of my life got off-kilter during this past year of pandemic living. I need to once again be intentional about making time for those practices that keep me grounded and help me draw closer to God. I also feel God calling me to practice gratitude more and to pray more.

How about you? Are there spiritual disciplines or practices that are your naturals that you go to time and time again to draw closer to God? Are there other disciplines you sense God calling you to this year?

I hope you will join us in the Words Art & Faith Group on Facebook and join the conversation. This post wraps up our theme for February. I'm not going to have a specific theme for March as I want to take the time to prepare for a Words Challenge in April: Resurrection Words. The Resurrection Words Challenge will look at the significance of the Easter events and at the resurrection life we are called to live. I hope you'll join me. The words list will come out later in March.

Resources on spiritual disciplines: All from my library.


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