Friday, March 25, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines

For some reason I woke up early, before 4 a.m., and only God knows why. So after a cup of coffee, heated in the microwave, I'm catching up on things in the ethernet. 

One of the things I've read this morning, and it's something I've been reading and thinking about for a long time is spiritual disciplines. What they are and can they or will they bring me closer to or more aware of God and his presence in the world?

So, on RevGalBlogPals this morning the discussion is on this same topic. Mary Beth noted that in her church they are doing a Lenten study using Richard Foster's book Celebration of Discipline.  I have the book and have read bits of it in preparation for Great Plains Presbyterian Pilgrimage. I've not sat down and read the whole book. I think that's the story of my life. I have many books that I've only read bits and pieces of .

Anyhow, spiritual discipline is a topic that has been on my mind for a while. I have been doing morning prayers for some time. I find that easier to do when I'm at work in the church than when I'm at home. There I can be centered in prayer whether I'm reading from the Bible or one of my other books I have in the corner of the pew where I sit. 

Prayer is, I think, central to my spiritual discipline. I have a continual conversation with God but I've found that I need to take time to just sit in silence with him everyday. To be honest all I hear is the creaking of the boards in the church but I like to believe it's His footsteps as he let's me know he's there with me. Hokey maybe, but's why couldn't God make his presence known like that. He showed Moses a burning bush and Balaam's donkey talked to him so why not creaking floorboards in the church?

When I was working full-time as a project engineer I would get up this time of day to read, think, and pray but since I retired from that and now work as a full=time pastor I sleep in.  I kind of miss that quiet time and I wonder now why I quit.  Maybe it's because I like to sleep and be warm wrapped in my blankets.

Right now I'm reading Henri Nouwen. It's a book about prayer and how it is so very central to everything. So it is excerpts from many of his different writings on the subject. Here is a person who asks the same questions I do and yet centered his whole life on service to other people and God. God being first.

From what I read it looks as if he struggled with the discipline and the mystery of it too, but he never gave up. He prayed morning, noon, and evening. And probably more I think.

So, how do we discipling ourselves to be near to God and experience his presence? I find that I do it by reading, the Bible, other books, blogs, music, and prayer. Oh, and by visiting, being in community with people in this community where I live. And not necessarily just the folks in my worshipping community.

So, as you can probably see my attempt at spiritual discipline is messy, disorganized, and maybe haphazard but it has helped come closer to God.

One thing has been instrumental in all of this and that has been going to Great Plains Presbyterian Pilgrimage.  When I'm there my whole focus is on what God is doing in and through all of us as we serve him and our guests. I'm not there this month and I do miss it. But I am praying for them all and I know they are praying for us as well.

So, good friends, what are your spiritual disciplines? What are you doing that works for you, that brings you closer to the One who created us and loves us?

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