What has helped you sense God’s presence in your life? For the past couple of months, we have considered how various practices and environments increase our sense of God’s presence. Practices such as prayer, studying scripture, and spending time in solitude can help us to sense God’s love and care for us. Enjoying nature and spending time with friends can increase our appreciation for God’s majesty and the gift of Christian community.
While we occasionally bump into and relish such experiences with little effort on our part, there are ways we can on a daily basis deepen our experience of God’s presence and transforming work in our lives. In the past 40 years, much has been written about the value of practicing the spiritual disciplines in our walk with God. In his seminal book “Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth,” Richard Foster proposes that “the spiritual disciplines open the door...to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received.” (1). It has been my own experience that I am more able to recognize and receive God’s gifts through engagement with various spiritual disciplines.
Adele Calhoun makes the observation in her “Spiritual Disciplines Handbook” that since its inception, the church has “linked the desire for more of God to intentional practices, relationships and experiences that give people space in their lives to keep company with Jesus.” (2). Apostle Paul writes in Romans 5:1-2 that as we open the door of our hearts to God, we find that God has already open the door to us through his loving grace. Through these open doors, we can enter “out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory.” (3) Over time, by keeping ourselves open to God’s grace and work in us, we will deepen our relationship and faith in God and experience an inner change that aligns more closely with God’s will.
For the next several months at this blog site, we will cover a wide range of spiritual practices with respect to what they are and how we might engage in them. No one has enough time in a day to practice all of them. However, you may find a couple of practices particularly helpful to you in your spiritual journey.
1. Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (New York: HarperOne, 1998), 6.
2. Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 17.
3. Romans 5:2. The Message. Bible translation by Eugene Peterson.