Insights into the Practice of Spiritual Disciplines

Today, I have the treat of leading a day retreat here in Sacramento, CA. About thirty of us will enjoy an unhurried day in God’s presence.

Yesterday, I shared some spiritual direction I shared as I reviewed final papers of some of my students from a few months ago. Here are a few more comments I thought you might appreciate:

  • It’s interesting that a focus on fasting by the desert fathers was, in part, because they felt that gluttony was a gateway sin that needed to be addressed early on in the lives of those who came for their counsel.
  • There is a difference between results-focused and God-focused spiritual practices. Results are always a secondary, indirect concern in their healthy practice. Primary is our attentiveness to God Himself.
  • Key to fruitful fasting is what we do instead of eating…with our time, our energy, our desires.
  • Even what feels like a small space opened up for God in our lives can be very fruitful (because of Him and not because of us).
  • It’s tragic when any ministry, as good as it may be, becomes a person’s focus, rather than the God Who gives ministry.
  • God really is enough. And we spend our spiritual lifetime learning this simple insight more and more deeply.
  • It’s challenging to keep our seeking focus on God Himself, trusting Him to provide whatever it is I am feeling a need for from Him. It’s a most practical application of “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well.” Doesn’t work so well when we get those reversed!
  • Spiritual disciplines are a way of choosing to be open to God before hard circumstances may press us in this direction.
  • It’s good to remember that spiritual disciplines are about progress, not perfection.