The Inward Disciplines

If . . .
If the purpose of the church is to love
and obey God and to love people, then
this mandate also becomes the purpose
of intentional disciples of Jesus—the
Head of the Church.
 If Christian spirituality leads to the
realization of the unique self that God
envisions each one to become, then
each disciple must learn to look at self
deeply, while remaining in relation to
God and others.
If . . .
If Christian spiritual formation refers to
the intentional, communal process of
growing in relationship with God and
becoming conformed to Christ through
the power of the Holy Spirit, then
disciples learn to pay attention to God in
order to respond to God while paying
attention to oneself and one’s chosen
practices and disciplines.
Then . . .
Based on biblical images of spiritual
formation, then, disciples pay attention
to a variety of responses:
 The Vine and the branches (Jn 15) – In what
or in whom am I abiding?
 The Potter and the clay (Is 64:8) – Who or
what is shaping me?
 Hunger and thirst (Mt 5:6) – What is the
source of my longings?
Then . . .
The practices of Christian spirituality
become more responsive in nature
rather than stagnating in a sanctifying
process characterized by human
 “The practices of faith are not ultimately
our own practices but rather habitations
of the Spirit, in the midst of which we are
invited to participate in the practices of
God”—Craig Dykstra
Assessment Tools
Fruit of the Spirit
 Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness,
meekness, faithfulness, self-control
 To consider: What may be blocking the
healthy growth of the Spirit’s fruit in life and
Assessment Tools
Gifts of the Spirit
 Particular gifts are discovered and
 Other spiritual attributes are also practiced
and developed
 After a while, the more balanced spirituality
reveals an ever-growing responsiveness to
God as disciples are being conformed to the
image of the Christ
Assessment Tools
Spiritual Disciplines
 Practices that strengthen apprentices of
Jesus as they move toward spiritual balance
 Practices that are habit forming in a
spiritually healthy way and move from
“discipline” toward a more well-rounded
spiritual lifestyle
 We will begin with the “Inward Disciplines”
although it is good to remember that all of
the disciplines are holistic in nature.
What do you think of when you hear or
see the word “meditation”?
 An attempt to define
 A long, ardent gaze at God, God’s work, and
God’s word
 The giving of one’s undivided attention to
 The ability to hear God’s voice and obey
God’s word
Why should disciples meditate?
 God desires fellowship, communion, and
 The practice of meditation creates sacred
space—construction by Christ of the inner
sanctuary which is continually present, no
matter the circumstances
 Spiritual formation depends on the ability to
hear and obey
“Meditation has no point and no reality
unless it is firmly rooted in life”—Thomas
 “True godliness does not turn men out of
the world, but enables them to live better
in it and excites their endeavors to mend
it”—William Penn
 The practice of meditation
 Spiritual Classics (6-7, 11-12)
 Spiritual Disciplines (172ff)
What is prayer?
 An attempt to define (Calhoun)
 Relationship with God
 Attention to God
 Divine dialogue through intentional
encounter with God
Why should disciples pray?
 Prayer catapults disciples into the frontier of
the spiritual life (Foster)
 To pray is to descend with the mind into the
heart and there stand before the face of the
Lord, ever-present, all seeing, within you
 Prayer is the central avenue God uses to
transform his disciples (Foster)
Something to be learned (Foster)
 Prayer disciplines provide ways to enter
into prayer (Calhoun)
 Breath – God becomes the “oxygen to the
 Centering – the act of quieting the spirit
 Contemplative – the act of waiting with an
awake heart
 Conversational – natural dialogue with God
The practices of prayer
 Spiritual Practices (204-18)
 Spiritual Classics (31-2, 48ff)
Small Group Exercise – “Breath Prayer”
Additional prayer disciplines
Inner Healing
Prayer Partners
Praying Scripture
Prayer of Recollection
Prayer Walking
What do you think of when you consider
 An attempt to define fasting:
 Abstaining from food for spiritual purposes
 The self-denial of normal necessities in
order to intentionally attend to the concerns
of God (Is 58)
 A physical awareness of emptiness used as
a reminder to turn to Christ
Why should disciples fast?
 To let go of an appetite in order to seek God
 To replace a lesser practice with something
of greater value, at least for a time
 To remember the source of one’s
 To achieve a greater sense of balance in
one’s life
What is fasting not?
 Manipulation of God
 Spiritual way to lose weight
 Appearance of piety
 Magic
The practices of fasting
 Spiritual Classics (57-61, 75-6 Reflections)
 Spiritual Practices (218-222)
What comes to mind when you hear the
word “study”?
 An attempt to define follows:
 Careful attention so that the mind will move
in a certain direction and experience spiritual
 The framework with which meditation can
successfully function (read, reflect, and
Why should disciples study?
 To gain perspective into the reality of
situations, encounters, books, etc.
 To learn and then to apply
○ Repetition – ingrains habits of thoughts
○ Concentration – centers the mind
○ Comprehension – leads to insight and
○ Reflection – defines the significance of what is
The study of books (in this order)
 Understanding: What is the author saying?
 Interpreting: What does the author mean?
 Evaluating: Is the author right or wrong?
How does study differ from spiritual or
devotional reading?
The study of nonverbal “books”
 The observation of reality in things, events,
and actions
 As with the study of books, begin by paying
○ Nature
○ Relationships
○ Oneself
 Learn to ask good questions
Spiritual Practices
 Memorization, 176-8
 Bible study, 164-7
 Contemplation, 48-51
 Examen, 52-5
 Journaling, 56-8
 Practicing the presence, 60-2
 Teachability, 82-4
Small Group Exercise – Lectio Divina

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