|So much to do in spiritual development|
|Written by Tom Ehrich|
A client recently completed a report on best practices in Spiritual Development. It made me tired just to read it.
They were so thorough. They identified 12 forms of prayer, six forms of study, three forms of service, as well as detailed thoughts on other spiritual disciplines such as fasting, giving, worship, confession, and silence.
I know these forms exist, and I know that I don’t need to understand or practice them all. Why, then, did their report make me tired?
It made me realize once again how varied and vast is the work of knowing God. There is so much one can do to draw closer to God, and still much remains to be done. If I pour my heart into a certain discipline, such as centering prayer, I have to know that most people around me are seeking God in other ways, if at all. We won’t have a common language for our seeking and our finding.
There is no easy way out of this dilemma. But as with so much in life, it helps to know the problem, namely, we are so varied as individuals, our approaches to God are varied, and God’s responses to us are just as varied.
Here is what I suggest: I suggest teaching a single class on prayer. It’s the most basic element of spiritual discipline. A better grasp of prayer will build confidence about exploring other ways of drawing closer to God.
Rather than seek out a curriculum, I suggest that you teach what you know. Whether you are clergy or laity, you can teach the practice of prayer as it has already touched your life. If it is nothing more than saying grace before a meal, grace is a fine place to start. You are inviting people on a journey, and you teach them by showing the way you have gone.
Your aim isn’t to produce “experts” in prayer, but “practitioners,” that is, people who pray.
Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant, and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the publisher of On a Journey, and the founder of the Church Wellness Project www.churchwellness.com.