Spiritual Practices

Spiritual Practices and Disciplines

The practice of a discipline

two hands clasped in prayer

A spiritual discipline is a broad understanding of life choices that a person makes for the purpose of entering into deeper awareness and relationship with God. Practices are specific exercises or techniques one might employ in keeping with a more general discipline. For example, "honoring the body" speaks of intentionally raising up the sacred nature of the human body, and as such is a spiritual discipline; practices such as fasting, physical exercise, or dressing are specific things one can do to honor the body.

It is important to understand that disciplines and practices, like those that follow, are not understood as a means to make God love us more than God already does; there is no earning God's love. But such exercise does open us up to hearing God's love for us more clearly. Paul uses the analogy of an athlete for those engaged in spiritual discipline and practice, and it is an apt one. First, the strengths gained in one practice spill over into all of life; the endurance of the long distance runner makes for an easier trip when the elevator is not working, and saying "No," to food or certain types of food during a fast strengthens us to say the same to other temptations. Second, the athlete does not train for the last race, but for the one to come: we are not trying to gain God's love or forgiveness for what we have or have not done, but preparing to live out of God's love and forgiveness in the future. Read more about spiritual practices.

  May 2020  
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