A Thought on Spiritual Disciplines

chimney-top-mtnDo you ever feel that your spiritual exercises are producing little in the way of results? However we might measure or define the word “result” we’ve all experienced times when prayer, participation in worship, meditation, or other spiritual disciplines seemed hollow and rote. I recently came across this quote regarding contemplation, but I think it applies to all the spiritual exercises:

[Any spiritual exercise] . . .is a skill, a discipline that facilitates a process that is out of one’s direct control, but it does not have the capacity to determine an outcome. The gardener practices finely honed skills . . . But there is nothing the gardener can do to make the plants grow. However, if the gardener does not do what a gardener is supposed to do, the plants are not as likely to flourish. . . In the same way a sailor exercises considerable skill in sailing a boat. But nothing the sailor does can produce the wind that moves the boat. . . Gardening and sailing involve skills of receptivity. The skills are necessary but by themselves insufficient. ~ Martin Laird, Into the Silent Land, pp. 53-54

God is not a tame creature that can be called upon to perform. God is like the wind or like a garden – we pray, we come to worship, we meditate – and when the wind blows or the seed sprouts these spiritual skills make us ready and receptive to receive what God is doing. We can’t tell the Father, Son, and Spirit when to show up, but we can follow the pattern of Jesus’ life of spiritual exercise to be ready when they do.

~ Jonathan Stepp

3 comments so far

  1. Al Carden on

    Thanks Jonathan! You’re contribution is just what I needed today!!!!

  2. Daniel Gore on

    Saw this pull up — Very interesting and relevant topic, thanks. I am writing an article on something similar. Is God strictly sovereign or is He also cooperative. Though we do not control Him or make Him do anything, He has chosen to put His grace on certain activities to such an extent that there are results or manifestation to some degree, every time. The SPiritual Gifts work and He works through and with us so that it becomes very cooperative. Its a mutual process. The grace to function in those blessings is so strong, that it is more unusual if nothing happens, than when there is an encounter or miracle. GLory to God.

  3. Daniel Gore on

    Blessings blessings!


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