Practice a Spiritual Practice

Recently someone asked me, “What do you mean by spiritual practice?”

Spiritual practice is a bit like practicing the piano, practicing hitting a baseball, or even practicing making bread.  We repeat the movement with the intention to improve.  So how does this work with a spiritual practice?  Let’s use prayer as one spiritual practice you desire to practice and thereby improve.  Jesus provides a wonderful example of a role model for prayer practices, and I am going to take a leap here – that Jesus perhaps had some inside knowledge about prayer and communication with God!  Jesus took time for a private prayer life or prayer practice.   In Mark 1:35, Jesus gets up early – it is so early that it is still dark outside.  He went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.  So, you may consider following this model.  Perhaps you are invited to set the alarm a bit earlier than normal, get out of bed and go to a quiet place, and pray.  You may even wish to light a candle in this corner of your world.  But like Jesus, get up, get away, and pray.  If Jesus needed a prayer life, so do we.

What do you pray about?  For what you are grateful?  Bring it to God.  What is breaking your heart open?  Bring it to God.  What is trying your soul, or your peace, or love?  Bring it to God.  Perhaps using your hands to create a bowl, you lift your needs up to God.  Perhaps you raise your arms in praise of God who loves you and longs for you.  Perhaps you end by listening, in silence, for God’s voice.  And with a bow of your head or knees, you go into your day.

Now the first few days will be lovely.  But, a day may come when this practice is less than lovely.  Maybe doubt moves in.  You don’t feel God’s presence, maybe you stop thinking prayer works.  Now you are really practicing.  Oh, please keep practicing.  For this is when the spiritual practice does its deeper work.  This is when your spiritual roots deepen into the Soil to which God has called you.  Small step by small step practice.  For if you do, when your world “falls apart,” you will have roots that hold you in God.  Roots that are deep and not easily moved by life’s hard moments.  Yes, prayer is not just for today, rather we pray for all of the todays we will have, and we pray so we are deeply rooted in God.