My blog focuses on noticing God’s work in daily life–that’s my particular spiritual growth edge. If it were the only thing I was doing spiritually, my growth would be very limited. We all need a combination of spiritual prodding from others and the Holy Spirit, and spiritual habits to strengthen our connection to God and healing. I’d like to provide some resources to you in these other areas.
If you really resonate with my blog and find this is exactly where you’re at right now, then check out my Amazon list of Resources for New Contemplatives for books on paying attention to God in daily life.
We all need to grow spiritually to remain connected to God in our Christian walks, but it’s easy to borrow someone else’s way of growing and find it doesn’t really work for us. Here are some resources for figuring out how you best connect and relate to God. Remember that we are called to God not just as individuals, but as a community, so don’t just use these tools in a vacuum. Talk to your friends, mentors or pastors about them and allow yourself to be challenged to act on what you’ve learned.
- The Enneagram – The enneagram is a personalty finder that determines both our strengths and our weaknesses and therefore can be especially helpful for spiritual growth. My favorite book is The Wisdom of the Enneagram. It is, however, a lot to take in for someone who hasn’t done a personality test before, so you might want to try the Meyers-Briggs or DISC personality tests first.
- Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas. Do you try to read the Bible and think you might as well be eating sawdust for all you get from it? Then you probably relate to God in way that’s not intellectual. Gary Thomas outlines 9 paths to connection with God: naturists, sensates, traditionalists, ascetics, activists, caregivers, enthusiasts, contemplatives and intellectuals. If this is a topic you haven’t thought much about, this book is a fantastic place to start.
Spiritual disciplines are methods of training ourselves spiritually. Think of a marathon runner: she cannot go out and run 26 miles without first running a mile, then three, then five and working herself up to the full race. Spiritual disciples allow us to practice being spiritual in a way that builds over time. Spiritual disciplines are not quick-fixes for our lives–they are good habits learned over time in collaboration with the Holy Spirit. Note that this is not an exhaustive list! If nothing here appeals, check out Adele Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, spend some time in the table of contents and the check out the disciplines that interest you.
- Daily Bible Reading – Yes, it’s the big one. I would recommend everyone try and get some Scripture within them each day, even if it only a verse, even if you hate reading the Bible. Remember there are different ways to read the Bible! Lectio Divina is a contemplative Bible reading style. The Ignatian Exercises are a method of putting yourself within the stories of the Bible, particularly the Gospels. If either of these seem to big, put your favorite verses on cards and read one each day.
- The Daily Office – An online version of the prayer service for morning or evening based on the Book of Common Prayer, 1979 edition. Great for intellectuals, contemplatives, traditionalists and even sensates. (And gives you your daily dose of Bible to boot.)
- Prayer Walking – I think any walking can be prayer walking, but there are many good resources available that give some guidelines (at least, use them as such) for praying while walking. I find walking the labyrinth a valuable kind of prayer walk, but if that weirds you out, don’t do it! (Here’s a great story from CNN on what walking a labyrinth can do.) Great for naturists, contemplatives and activists.
- The Examen – The Ignatians are known for this spiritual practice as well. Do it before bed as a way of noticing where God felt present & absent throughout the day, and to practice gratitude.
Jesus preached, taught and healed in his ministry. Healing is an ongoing work that can be necessary before spiritual growth can happen, but it also enables us to be strengthened in our spiritual disciplines–in other words, we need healing throughout our Christian journey. These can be radical, miraculous healings or healings that take place over the life span.
- Experiencing Healing Prayer by Rick Richardson. If you have tried reading Leanne Payne but get lost, try Rick’s book.
- Immanuel Prayer Approach to healing. There are many contributors to this approach. It always starts with helping others get connected to God and as such, it has power as a spiritual discipline as well as a healing approach. If you love brain science, you’ll love Immanuel. Their website has great material; for a prepackaged intro, check out Karl Lehman’s book, Outsmarting Yourself.
Spiritual direction is a spiritual discipline; I also see it as a healing ministry. In spiritual direction, you sit with someone a little further along in their spiritual journey and tell them about your life with God. The point is not for the director to guide you, but for them to ask you questions that allow you to hear the voice of God for yourself. Great for mature Christians, people who feel stuck or in crisis.
- Listening As Spiritual Hospitality by Henri Nouwen
- What is Spiritual Direction?
- Seek and Find Guide – a search tool to find a spiritual director
- Tending the Holy – A spiritual director preparation by The Christos Center in Minneapolis. They do distance learning and have a satellite program in the Chicago suburbs.
Are you interested in receiving spiritual direction and live in southeast Wisconsin/northeast Illinois? I’d love to be considered as your spiritual director. Email me at email@example.com or call 630-709-5492.