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Brief Guide to Spiritual Disciplines

  • Centering Prayer:  a form of contemplative prayer where the pray-er seeks to quiet scattered thoughts and desires in the still center of Christ’s presence.  Resources:  Centering Prayer by Basil Pennington, Seeking Stillness Handout.

  • Breath Prayer:  a form of contemplative prayer linked to the rhythms of breathing: 1)breath in calling “Ya,” 2) breath out calling “Weh” (Yaweh)

  • Fixed-Hour/Liturgical Prayer:  written or memorized prayer that serves as a framework for individual or corporate worship and devotion.  Praying the Hours is a traditional form of liturgical prayer practiced in many monasteries.  Resource:  The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle

  • Intercessory Prayer:  praying on behalf of family, friends, and the entire world.

  • Walking Prayer: physically walking with Jesus through places (hospitals, homes, businesses, churches, neighborhoods, etc.) that you are concerned about and offering prayers that God causes to rise in you.

  • Labyrinth Prayer:  praying by walking a simple marked path.  Can be treated as a pilgrimage 1) entering the labyrinth and leaving behind the world; 2) walking to the center of the labyrinth to meet and spend time with Jesus; 3) returning to the world renewed and ready to serve.  Resource:  Walking the Labyrinth:  A Place to Pray and Seek God by Tavis Scholl.

Self Examination and Confession: process by which the Holy Spirit opens your heart to what is true about you.  Confession results from God shining light on sins and areas of disobedience.
  • Daily Examen:  daily discernment of God’s perspective on your life and activities based on writings by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Resource:  Reimagining the Ignatian Examen by Mark E. Thibodeaux, Seeking Stillness Handout.

  • Gratitude:  periodically and intentionally reflecting on how God has provided for you – the things (large and small) for which you are grateful.  Capturing these things in a journal is often a helpful reminder in times of stress.  Resource:  One Thousand Gifts:  A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.

Bible Study: engaging the mind and focusing attention on Scripture in an attempt to understand and apply truth to every part of life.  Resource: Discovering the bible for Yourself  by Judson Poling.
  • Lectio Divina (Divine Reading):  contemplative reading of the Bible with an open, reflective posture.  This type of reading fosters a relationship with God more than gathering knowledge and information.  Resources:  Shaped by the Word by Robert Mulholland, Seeking Stillness Handout

  • Scripture Memorization:  continually remembering the words, truths, and images God uses to shape us.  Memorization provides us with a store of learning, which can be accessed anywhere and anytime.  Resource:  The Word of God:  Unleashing the Power of Scripture Memorization by Michele Miner.

Sabbath: repetitive and regular rest.  Sabbath provides for our communion with God and renewal of energy and focus.  Resources: Living the Sabbath:  Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight by Norman Wirzba, Sabbath Time by Tilden Edwards.

Worship: taking time to intentionally cherish and honor God above all else.  This can be either an individual or communal act.  Worshiping in community is a vital element of maintaining the Holy Spirit’s presence in a church.  Resource:  Worship is a Verb by Robert E. Webber.

Simplicity: intentionally loosening attachment to material objects, activities, and other things that distract you from God.  Simplicity brings freedom and with it generosity.  Resource:  Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster. 


Waiting: the ability to sustain a deep desire with patient hope, trusting that God is at work.  Resource:  Soul Keeping by John Ortberg.

Hospitality: creating a safe, open space where a friend or stranger can enter and experience the welcoming spirit of Christ.  Inviting others to share in the bounty God has provided, no matter how small.  Resource:  Making Room by Christine Pohl.

Service: offering resources, time, treasure, influence and expertise for the care, protection, justice, and nurture of others.  Acts of service give hands to the second greatest commandment “Love thy neighbor as yourself,” but must be entered into with the highest level of motivation and integrity.  Resource:  When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett.

Fasting: self-denial of normal necessities in order to intentionally attend to God in prayer.  Physical and psychological awareness of emptiness is a reminder to turn to Jesus who alone can satisfy.  Resource:  Fasting: Spiritual Freedom Beyond Our Appetites by Lynne Baab.

Journaling: writing as a tool for reflecting on God’s presence, guidance and nurture in daily comings and goings.  Journals can be kept regularly or during times of transition.  They may include a wide array of visual representations (words, drawings, photos, etc.).  Resource:  Journal Keeping:  Writing for Spiritual Growth by Luann Budd.

Artistic Expression: expression of God’s movements in artistic and creative works (painting, art journaling, music, dance, body movement, etc.).  Resources:  The Spirit Moves:  Handbook of Dance and Prayer by Carla De Sola, Creative Bible Journaling by Megan Wells.

Spiritual Direction: meeting regularly with another who helps you pay attention to God’s movement in your life.  A trained spiritual director listens to the Holy Spirit with you and helps you build an intimate relationship with God.  Resource:  The Art of Spiritual Listening by Alice Fryling, Seeking Stillness Handout.

Rule of Life: establishing regular rhythms that free and open each person to the will and presence of Christ.  The spiritual practices of a rule provide a way to partner with the Holy Spirit for personal transformation.  Resource: Crafting a Rule of Life by Stephen Macchia.

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