Strengthening Your Christian Spirituality
Grace & Peace to you in the name of our Lord & Savior Jesus.
There are four fundamental habits of the heart which will indubitably strengthen and broaden your spirituality. These are four practices of spiritual discipline which guarantee to invigorate, revitalize and imbue your walk with Christ on a daily basis.
The first one is Prayer...
Here's how you can pray...
You can pray on your knees, standing up, writing a letter to God, or a poem, singing songs, playing an instrument, listening to music, meditating, journaling, hiking, through centering prayer, lectio divina, painting, sculpture, graphic design, alone, in community, through social outreach, sitting down, with eyes opened wide or closed, prostrated, through hip hop, jazz or chant, with a prayer book, in tongues, anytime - you can pray.
As long as you are focused on practicing the presence of God, keeping Him as the center and purpose of whatever it is that you are engaged in, you will be in communion and community with the Triune God. That means that you will be abiding and in company with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit - three in one person.
The hardest thing for most of us to wrap our minds around is the wonderful reality of prayer as a genuine, supernatural and accessible gift God has made all the possible for anyone who calls on our Lord and Savior. As soon as we break the mold of our spiritual limitations brought about by the lies of the adversary, we will be free to engage God in the fullest expression of heartfelt surrender and joyful abandonment. What must we do in order to break said bonds? Turn the chains that bind our hearts and minds over to God. He will take care of the rest.
The second practice is daily reading, reflection and application of Holy Scripture...
Third on our list is fasting...
Fasting is one of the most misunderstood spiritual disciplines in Christian history. This is remarkable when you consider that Jesus fasted: and even said that once He no longer was physically present among His disciples they would fast, too. Guess what? We're His disciples... are we fasting?
The idea behind fasting is that we abstain from anything that causes distraction or influences us to grow unfaithful and rebel against God. There are so many possibilities and this is the reason why prayer and Bible study go hand-in-hand with fasting. Prayer is the means of communication. The Bible is the source of conviction. Fasting is the means of confession. Through prayer we ask God for guidance, revelation and direction. Through the Scriptures, the Lord guides us and reveals to us the wretched condition of our hearts and intentions. We see and come to terms with those things, practices, attitudes and people, that make us grow deviant and move away from God's will and purposes for our lives. Once we are convicted and are in a state of repentance, we fast from those things and give them over to God. Like any addict in rehab, we may experience bouts of relapse and struggle with remaining perseverant in the faith. This is called acknowledging our full and total dependence on God. This is where we are taken to through fasting... to the brink of our
control, to the end of our reason, to the point of brokenness. In this state, we are lifted up, clothed in power and set apart. Once we have been restored and reconciled, whatever we fasted from, we will no longer call master - again.
How long should I fast for? It depends on God's guidance and word. I am not necessarily sure that the "fasts" that are food-based are effective any longer. In the case of Daniel, (Dan 1:5-17) the question was not about food. Instead the issue was rooted in the food not being prepared in a manner compliant with the Torah and therefore not appropriate for consumption. Obedience and faithfulness to God was the concern for Daniel and his friends.
Fasts may take a few days or perhaps months. What does matter and is of utmost importance is that when you fast, you are not alone. In your weakness, God will strengthen you. In your frustration and despair, you will be comforted. Ultimately, you are clay in the hands of the potter. You have been wonderfully and fearfully made. Through fasting, God continues to perfect you to the highest expressions of His love and will.
The fourth and final discipline is fellowship...
We are the sheep of His pasture...
The truest sign of our faith in Christ is our dedication to being a member of His body, of His flock. To love, serve, edify and care for our family in Christ. They are now our blood family, made so through the blood of Jesus that was poured out from the Lamb's body through torture and execution. We are called to be in fellowship as the Trinity is in fellowship. We are called to be in fellowship just as Christ was in fellowship with the disciples and with all who walked next to Him, ate with Him, fished with Him, witnessed His preaching, His healing and prayed next to Him... these were ultimately sent out to all nations to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name - not as individuals, but as members of one body, the body of Christ, the Church.
Prayer will foster a love for one another. The Scriptures will provide the narrative of salvation, of our identity as the people of God. It will instruct us, inspire us and propel us into new heights of sacrifice, love, compassion and joy. Fellowship makes us humble. It reminds us that the world does not orbit around us and that we are to serve others rather than expect to be served. That we are called to understand rather than expect to be understood; and that we must grow to forgive each day more and more to the measure that we have been forgiven by God. We are the communion of saints.
May you, my dear reader and family in Christ, be willing to make these disciplines habits of your heart. It is my prayer that you will afford them a sincere opportunity to transform them through the Spirit. Allow God in and see what marvels and wonders He does for you and for others through you.
Always in Christ,