“Deep inside every man there is a private sanctum where dwells the mysterious essence of his being. It is the man’s I am, a gift from the I AM who created him.“ ~A.W. Tozer,
The quote above has long been a favorite of mine. It is taken from the first sentence in the first chapter of the book, “Tozer: Mystery of the Holy Spirit.” My relationship with God began early in life and continues to be shaped by His unyielding grace and mercy for which I am in awe and grateful beyond comprehension.
As I write this article, I cannot help but get excited about the timing of writing about spirituality and the publishing of this article in the month Christians celebrate the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ.
Provided your spiritual practice is guided by the fruits of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – it can be prolific and inform a positively lived life amid suffering. Suffering is unavoidable and a natural part of life, however, a substantiated spiritual practice as part of your daily life can have profoundly positive effects on your cognitive and mental well-being. Spirituality has been shown to help people recovering from substance use disorder, depression, anxiety, and numerous other life challenges.
As a Christian my spiritual practice is informed by the belief that God created all things and Jesus Christ was born, died, and resurrected for me to have eternal life with God in heaven, which gives me hope in the most challenging of times.
Below are three steps you can take to develop your spiritual practice.
1) Assess your spiritual practice. Reflect on how much time you spend with God, how you understand God, how you understand your purpose in life in relationship to God as your creator, how you influence others relationship with God by the way you love and care for yourself and others, the community with which you share in a common belief and faith of who God is and who you are in relationship to him.
2) Spend time reading God’s word and praying with intention, daily. Intention can be to learn, to hear, and to be heard. Devoting time is probably the biggest challenge to anyone’s spiritual practice. It is important to cultivate a personal relationship with God through the scriptures and praying. The personal messages I have received from God through scripture and prayer have been life shaping and saving.
3) Connect with a spiritual mentor that knows the word of God and exhibits a Christ like love. A Christ like love is gentle, honest, patient, graceful, and merciful. Knowledge of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit come through time spent reading the Bible, praying, and discussing both what you have read and experienced through your reading with those who share your common faith in God and can help you discern truth. A Christ like mentor will not use the word of God as a weapon, but will speak truth with love, grace, and mercy.
Recently, I attended a Christian based weeklong retreat. It was so good to dedicate time to my spiritual development. Two of my favorite affirmations from the week were:
♥ My past mistakes do not diminish my worth and value.
♥ I have a God that knows me intimately, forgives me completely, and loves me unconditionally.
I share them in hopes you may find solace in claiming them for yourself. Wherever, you are in your spiritual development affirming words are important reminders and provide encouragement.
As we think and believe so we are and as we are with ourselves, we are with others. Which is why it is important for us to promote a healthy spiritual relationship with God to garner internal well-being and work toward reduction of self-suffering and the suffering of others. A disciplined spiritual practice promotes resilience during times of difficulty and enhances our relationships. Throughout scripture God reminds us that empathy, compassion, gratitude, joy, inclusiveness, acceptance, and equality are matters of the mind and heart most dear to Him and the basis of quality of life.
During this season of lent and Easter, I end this article with a poem I wrote when I was 15 (37 years ago) and a prayer.
“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
Alone in my life and feeling so bored
I pick up my Bible and speak with the Lord
When no one else is around I have no fear
I turn to my Bible and soon He is near
As I flip the pages and look for a chapter to read
He hears my prayers and tells me just what I need
He speaks to me yet utter not a sound
I skim the page and the perfect verse is found
As I read and learn I see him in vision and think how great
He’s always there for me to help set life straight
Michelle Reynolds (Johns), 1985
*As seen in At Home Memphis and Midsouth