“The Disposition of Prayer”
(from a talk by Rob Des Cotes at Redlands United Church, Florida, Dec. 13, 2013)
“Make every effort to add to your faith..for if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. ”
Shared Practices for Cultivating the Spiritual Life
These rules, or “ways of life,” are divided into two sections: general (ongoing) and particular (daily). The phrase, “as you can,” which precedes each rule suggests that you should freely accept the limitations of your life at this time. Those who wish to commit more intentionally to these practices can change the phrase as you can, to I will commit to.
Perhaps the most important practice to help ensure our intentions bear the fruit we hope for is to have a soul friend—someone with whom to share our spiritual intentions and the practices we are committed to maintaining in our lives.
Consider someone with whom to partner as soul friends. Share with each other the “ways of life” that you already enjoy as part of your spiritual practice. Take opportunity to consider other practices you feel God inviting you to grow in. Pray for one another for the Lord’s fruit in your lives.
General Practices for the Spiritual Life
- As you can (or I will commit to), meet with a “soul friend” monthly or quarterly to discuss with each other where you have struggled and where you have found encouragement from God in relation to these practices. Pray for each other that God would continue to sustain you in these intentions
- As you can, meet regularly with a small group of people who know and share your deepest desires for relationship with God. Enjoy prayer together, communion, meditations on Scripture, and worship. Share your experiences of the journey of faith as you commit to encourage each other in your spiritual longings.
- As you can, live a simple and uncluttered life. Enjoy time for hospitality with everyone you meet in your day, especially God. Invite others into your life, your home, your journey.
- As you can, meet regularly with a spiritual director who can help you remain objective about your spiritual life. Be cautious about overly assessing spiritual progress or setbacks on your own.
- As you can, find a regular outlet through which to offer your time, money or labour for the sake of others. Visit the sick, care for the poor, remember the elderly and befriend those around you who are needy in any way.
- As you can, tithe to the ministry we share as we promote this work in the lives of others.
- As you can, continually equip yourself for the sake of others. Study, learn new skills and cultivate the gifts you have so that others may be blessed by them. Endeavour to persevere in your spiritual direction so that the integrity of your spiritual life will encourage the same in others.
- As you can, plan dedicated times for spiritual retreat throughout the year—a day, a weekend, or a week away in silence with God. If you are married, help your spouse get away for times of renewal and recovery of spiritual focus.
- As you can, endeavour to grow in Christian virtue (see 2 Peter 1:5-8). Focus on one virtue you wish to be your intention for this time period. Keep a journal of your relationship to this virtue—what God is communicating to you in the desire or the challenges you face in cultivating this trait. In the same way choose one trait you wish to see removed from your life–a habit, a fear, a possession, or an inordinate desire. Consider sharing these with your soul friend or spiritual director.
Particular Practices for the Spiritual Life
- As you can, begin each morning by thanking God for all that will happen in the day ahead. Anticipate goodness and the Lord’s love for you in all that will take place.
- As you can, begin each day with 20 minutes or more of silent prayer, remembering the ground of who you are, and of who God is in your life. Do this as a way of preparing the disposition of your heart before you apply yourself to your day. The quality of truth that you bring to your day will determine your effectiveness within it—how you respond, how you interpret, and how you contribute to the events that will take place.
- As you can, recall throughout the day one of the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. Let the unique character of each of these petitions impress itself deeply on your day. (see “The Lord’s Prayer”)
- As you can, practice reading a short passage of Scripture as a Lectio Divina each day—a time of slow spiritual reading that has as its purpose the conversion of the heart more than the accumulation of knowledge. You may also find it helpful to meditate on the spiritual wisdom written by Christians through the ages. Let these truths remind you of your first love as they elicit your response to God. (see “Lectio Divina I, Lectio Divina II, Lectio Divina III)
- As you can, take 5 minutes between the prolonged activities of your day in order to recollect your soul before God. Let times of rest be among the many activities of your day.
- As you can, each evening, spend another 10 minutes or more in silence before God. Review the events of your day, especially noting times of spiritual freedom or of difficulty. From what God reveals to you, try to adjust your life accordingly. (see “Awareness Examen”)
- As you can, conclude each day in gratitude for all that has happened—for what has been given to you, and for what God has given to the world through you today. Be grateful for the simple fact of life and for the invitation you have each day to play a constructive part in the incredible story of Christ’s presence unfolding in this world.
In keeping to these practices of response to God we will be formed together as a community committed, in an identifiable way, to transformation in the direction of our greater availability to God. As we become more familiar with these practices in our own lives we will also know how to best encourage them in others.