The secret garden of spiritual practice
It is one thing to have faith, to believe, but we are not called to just believe, we are called to discipleship to Christ in which we also practice faith. Practice, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “To do something regularly, as an ordinary part of your life.” Practice is, in essence, a transition from the head to the heart, the mind to the body. It is a deliberate move that requires stepping away from the noise of daily life.
“Through individual action – prayer, reading scripture, breath work – we enter a quiet place where we hear the voice of God more clearly and are transformed.”
– Julia Metcalf
As early as the 1st century AD, devoted followers of Jesus Christ made their way into the wilderness to remove themselves from the things that distracted their hearts, minds and souls from loving the Lord. Some hunkered down in caves and lived alone as hermits like St. Anthony, “Anthony the Great.” Others created communities which upheld collective rhythms, or a “rule of life,” such as the Benedictine monks or the Carmelite nuns.
For those reading this, however, that is not the particular call on our lives, and yet we too are invited to “Love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds.” For us, the
wilderness is not a physical place set apart from society, but rather a spiritual posture we assume. It is an approach with daily devoted practices which help us embody the statement from the prophet Jeremiah, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13.)
Perhaps this wilderness can be created through our own rhythm of life – the way in which we reorder our days around our devotion to Jesus. Such a restructuring makes time for reading the word, engaging in worship and sitting still in God’s presence. Through continuous practice, the wilderness becomes a secret garden, where silence feels more like peace, and where the living water is plentiful and abundant. With time, practice makes us feel directly connected to the source of true life (John 4:14) and more grounded in the truth of the Lord.
Finding your own practice is accessible through spiritual disciplines that have been passed down to us through centuries of devoted Christ-followers. They encompass a large swath of tools, exercises, and postures with which we bring ourselves to the foot of the throne and are transformed by the presence of God. Disciplines, however, do require … well, discipline! But such discipline becomes joy through the daily choice to cultivate a closer relationship with Christ.
Will you join me on this journey as we explore practical ways to apply the spiritual disciplines to your life? Look for a follow-up story complete with a resource list in the next issue of Tidings.