The Spiritual Disciplines-
Door to Liberation
The Spiritual Disciplines are intended for ourgood. They are meant to bring the abundanceof God into our lives.
Celebration of Discipline, p. 9*
Reading: Celebration of Discipline, Chapter 1
Reflecting on the Spiritual Disciplines
Read through the chapter in one sitting, and, in the space provided, write down any significant thoughts or questions that occur to you. After you have finished this first reading, take time to gather your thoughts about the journey ahead into a deeper life. You might find it helpful to read the chapter through a second time a little later on, and then return to portions of it throughout the week--as often as time and desire permit--to refresh your thoughts. Use the following questions to help guide your thinking.
- Why are you embarking on this journey into the Disciplines of spiritual growth?
- What are some of the most significant spiritual experiences you have had in the past (positive or negative) that are shaping your expectations or apprehensions in starting this journey?
- What are your hopes for your experiences as you work through this book in the months ahead?
- What are the anxieties or questions you have as you look ahead?
- In what areas of your life are you seeking greater liberation?
A Light for the Path
In Psalm 42:1-2, the psalmist beautifully expresses one of the most elemental of all human longings:
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, 0 God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
- How would you describe your own spiritual longings?
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom But that freedom of Christian living does not come from the human spirit. No human capacities or possibilities or strivings of any kind can achieve this freedom.
When it happens that man obtains that freedom of becoming a hearer, a responsible, grateful, hopeful person, this is not because of an act of the human spirit, but solely because of the act of the Holy Spirit. So this is, in other words, a gift of God.
-- Karl Barth
THE PRACTICE OF THE DISCIPLINES
The Disciplines are means to receiving Divine grace, not exercises in selfimprovement. As you begin your journey through the Spiritual Disciplines, take time this week to prepare by affirming God's presence with you.
Consider spending ten minutes in silent listening to God or taking a short "prayer walk." Use any of the following suggestions as you find them helpful for focusing your time with God:
- Reflect with thanksgiving on the presence of the Spirit in your journey through the Disciplines.
- Invite God to direct your thoughts regarding your expectations for the journey and where it might lead.
- Ask God to refresh your perspective on why it is important to practice the Disciplines.
- Ask God to give you an appropriate orientation of the heart regarding the purposes of your journey.
Use this section to write down your most significant thoughts or experiences from this week, unless you prefer to use a personal journal you may already be keeping. If you would like, use the following "reflection points" as springboards for your thoughts.
- Reflection point: What insights from Foster's discussion of the Spiritual Disciplines are most relevant to you personally? With which do you agree or disagree most strongly?
- Reflection point: What significant experiences, encounters, conversations, or thoughts have you had this week related to your focus on the Spiritual Disciplines?
- Reflection point: Record any significant questions or insights triggered by the questions suggested in "Reflecting on the Spiritual Disciplines" or by the ideas listed in "The Practice of the Disciplines."