Friday, March 25, 2011

Spiritual Practice (Friday Five)

"My Sunday school class has hit the "pause" button on our study of First Corinthians and is spending Lent on Richard J. Foster's classic Celebration of Discipline. I have had this wonderful and very readable book on my shelf, along with the study guide for it, for years, but have never discussed it with a group.

Because there are only five Sundays in Lent, we are fairly galloping through the book, getting a quick introduction to the various disciplines. The church is also sponsoring a Lenten Centering Prayer group, allowing some of us to sample this discipline in community.

Following the image above, I like to think of the spiritual disciplines as vessels that prepare us to ride the wave of God's amazing love and presence in a new way.

For today's Friday Five, please share with us five spiritual practices or disciplines from your experience. They can be ones that you have tried and kept up with, tried and NOT kept up with, ones that you flirt with at various times, or even practices that you have tried and found are definitely NOT your cup of tea. Let us know what's worked for you...and not."

1. I listen to Pray as You Go on a fairly regular basis, usually more or less first thing in the morning.  Sometimes I listen closely and pray through it, sometimes I journal my reactions and responses as I listen, sometimes I do yoga while I listen.

2. I do a lot of writing as I explore my spiritual life.  I started journaling about my spiritual adventures (and lack thereof) seriously when I made the Spiritual Exercises five years ago and have kept that practice up, to the point were I have filled something like fifteen journals.  Plus a lot of my blogging reflects my spiritual life.

3. Photography is a spiritual practice for me much of the time. Even as I write more and preach more, I am increasingly interested in the visual reception and expression of faith.

4. Reading and listening are critical spiritual practices for me.  I am endlessly interested in what other people have to say about the spiritual life, whether explicitly or implicitly, in nonfiction books and periodicals, in novels and poetry,and in blogs and conversation.

5. This list so far says little about communal spiritual practice, which has been the most challenging arena for me since Josh died.  Three years ago, words like hospitality and worship in community would have been high in the list, but those are matters I am having to reconsider and reframe in light of my sense of vulnerability and fragility.  I am so changed on the inside that I am still working on how to be both genuinely and lovingly engaged and  appropriately reserved on the outside. 

And the all-encompassing spiritual practice for me, the one that can't possibly be reduced to a number on a list, is prayer.  I was thinking about this last night, about how much over the past fifteen years or so my life has tilted, ever so slowly, toward a constant engagement with prayer: formal prayer, intercessory prayer, communal prayer, solitary prayer, visual prayer but, most of all, an increasingly steady prayer of contemplative listening.  This one, I think, gets a post of its own in the next few days.


  1. I have really come to think that whatever practice we practice is prayer.

    I am so grateful you share your writing, learning, and photography with the larger community.

  2. contemplative listening as a form of prayer - I'm not sure I've thought of it exactly like that, although I totally get it.

    but, like purple says, so many ways and forms of prayer - because it's the intention that supports what we do - that makes it prayer...

  3. thanks for this sharing. I love your photography and when I am out looking (which is my version of that)I often think, I wish Robin could photograph this... :)

  4. Just today someone quoted a phrase of Mother Teresa--"everything begins with prayer." Thank you for sharing; you always have supported me with your heartfelt words showing grief, love, and faith.

  5. Thank you for sharing this with us. xoxo

  6. I am so with you on #2 even though I took it off my try to stay with "five things" :) it is a very important spiritual discipline and way of prayer too I think.

  7. The idea of photography as a spiritual discipline and "visual prayer" are new for me, but I absolutely love them! Thank you!

  8. I love his books! This one was a real eye-opener for me, many years ago when I needed my eyes opened!

    1. Centering Prayer.... smaller increments of time (5-8 minutes) more often through the day (7-8 times a day). I find I stay much more grounded and centered in my heart, and in God, and I also feel like I have much more than 24 hours in a day.

    2. LOH - reading it three times a day with my husband. It has become a true cornerstone of the day/night.

    3. Gratitude List - each night, 5 things I was grateful for that day. Can be anything but it has to be something that I was not involved in achieving. Totally opens up the reality of God operating in my life.

    4. Intercessory prayer - I have a book that I carry with me, and it is filled with the names and requests for prayer that I receive. I try to spend time each day holding these people and prayers in my mind and heart. I feel like I am in community with them .... and that we are all in the Community of Saints.

    5. Journaling/Writing - I'm more sporadic at this than I wish I was. But I find it an amazing and direct way to my connection with God. It is prayer.... spiritual writing, not creative writing or the old kind of journaling where I was complaining about everyone in my life. :)

    Thanks Robin - I wish I had some talent with the camera, your photos are wonderful openings into prayer and meditation for me!


  9. reading has plummeted on my list, drumming has increased. hope to get to that blog post today.