A spiritual discipline is something that should take a considerable part of human life and change it in the way that makes a person closer to God.
On my opinion, a spiritual discipline is the one that has to be taken seriously, from the bottom of a human heart. It is crucially important to take it regularly in order to keep proper relations with God and make use of them during this life. Personally I, a 28-year old non-denominational Christian, believe that spiritual disciplines are the activities, which can make people more valuable and create a kind of space, where God will play a leading role. This time, I have to concentrate on such concepts like lectio divina, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio. After practicing sacred reading, as one of possible spiritual disciplines, I get a chance to comprehend deeper the essence of my life, the role of God, and ministry, improve my self-awareness, and become closer to God and universe.
Practicing Sacred Reading
My spiritual practice consists of several steps. One of the most responsible steps is to pick out a book that can be easily readable.
It should not take too much space, the paper has to be white (it is my personal desire), and the author should prefer not too complicated style of writing. I make a decision to read Holy Bible in an easy-to-read version. The next step in my practice is to find a quiet place with enough light in order not only to learn lection divina but also enjoy the comfort and burn a desire to read more. It is also very important to choose time for reading the book. For me, not too late evening is just fine.
Proper chosen book and the place for reading make it possible to concentrate on meditation. With the help of accurate suggestions of the prayer, the way to contemplation may be open to me. This plan for my spiritual practice is almost perfect. The only issue that is obligatory is my desire to complete this task.
It is a new activity in my life, this is why the more time I spend on preparations for this practice, the more desire I get to start this affair.
Self-Awareness and My Place in the World
Tony Jones (2003) admits that “reading without meditation is dry. Meditation without reading is subject to error. Prayer without meditation is lukewarm. Meditation without prayer is fruitless. Prayer without devotion leads to contemplation whereas contemplation without prayer happens rarely or by a miracle” (p. 43). This information has a considerable impact on my perception of this practice and the desire to achieve the best results.
When I read the book, first, I try to imagine how other people can react to the same information. The idea become rather different; my imagination starts working. It is necessary to stop and concentrates more on my personal perception of the world, my role in this world, and my place. I realize that nothing and no one can improve my life except God and me. God can hear my prayers if they sound sincere and honest. It is useless to ask God to provide people with money or sex, with respect and recognition.
All these issues may be achieved by a person independently. However, it is possible to ask for health or patience, support or luck. This practice helps me comprehend that there are lots of things I can reach independently, just make certain efforts and believe in myself. People are all equal before God, and it is impossible that one person is worthy of God’s support and care, and another person is not.
What did I learn about God?
I want to admit that I am too happy and proud that I get a chance to pass through this spiritual practice and learn more about God and his power. Many people still cannot believe that it is possible to communicate with God.
Of course, He does not come to your house, knock at the door, and ask for a cup of tea. However, if a person takes seriously lectio divina and believes in the possibility to ask God for help and get the answer, a kind of illumination will certainly come. God opens his heart to any person: it does not matter whether you have sins, do not believe in God, or spend all your life on praying. Very often, people complain of inability to communicate and get a piece of advice. However, they ask God for help subconsciously, and usually, get answers or at least some hints while they are sleeping. In the morning, people wake up and have several ideas of how to solve their problems, find more inspiration, or even start this new day properly. God knows what each person wants, and He will certainly find time to satisfy human needs and promote their actions, their beliefs, and their hopes.
What did I learn about ministry?
My background knowledge about ministry and its roles in religion and in a church is not too rich. I know for sure that it is a kind of religious organization that aims at providing various religious services, which are crucial for people. These services may involve weddings, funerals, or some sermons. These six weeks of practicing help me to comprehend how important and indispensible ministry’s duties are. These organizations give other people a chance to be closer to the Bible, to its content, and the messages, which are left for people and are intended to help them believe, enjoy this life, and respect any human being in this world. Ministry is a kind of stairs or even handrails, which help not to fall or stumble over. Ministry may have numerous faces, but one goal – to be available for people, who need or search for help.
Many tragedies and challenges are waiting for people during their lives, and the ministry should care about humanity and give people a chance to communicate to God. Sometimes, it is enough to look at a minister in order to realize what should be done next. And I think that only ministry is capable to complete these functions on a proper level. This spiritual discipline and the practice I have to pass through is a wonderful chance to learn more about God and ministry, about myself and my place in this world, about human abilities and people’s usual complaints. Each of us has good and bad mornings and days, and it may happen that no one can support or give a hand.
The help of God is invisible for many people, but still it exists and is available for any person. The point is that not every person is able to use it properly, to believe that everything is possible, and to improve own life. I want my family trust in God in order to be sure that one day, when I am far away, God will care about my family and show them the necessary safe way.
Jones, T. (2003). Sacred Reading.
In Soul Shaper: Exploring Spirituality and Contemplative Practices in Youth Ministry. El Cajon, California: Youth Specialties.