A prayer practice is just that: practice. It is taking time to learn how to listen to God. 

Prayer practice is the art of setting aside our own individual desires to seek the desire that God has placed on our hearts. It is becoming aware of the distractions of our minds and then letting them go, and as we repeat the disciplines over time, we become more skilled at seeing God in all that we do.

Daniel Wolpert 
Creating a Life with God: The Call of Ancient Prayer Practices

Copyright © 2003 by Daniel Wolpert. Published by The Upper Room.
Developing Regular Spiritual Practice

Spiritual practices open our hearts to God, allow us to grow in grace, and gain health and strength as the body of Christ. As spiritual leaders we sometimes convince ourselves that our days are filled with prayer, reflection on scripture, acts of justice and mercy, and heeding the promptings and warnings of the Spirit. But when we slow down — or crash — we may discover that very few of those activities actually touched our hearts, created space to hear God, or allowed enough time for us to be filled and renewed.

At The Upper Room Center we believe that the practice of spiritual disciplines draws us into conversation with God, calls us into new ways of living, and inspires us to be more Christ-like in our living. Our natural inclinations point us to life-giving practices. As our practices deepen, God begins to use them to speak, challenge, and call us in new ways.
Spiritual Exercise - Practice

Jesus went up on a mountain and called those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve and called them apostles. He appointed them to be with him, to be sent out to preach, and to have authority to throw out demons. 
-Mark 3:13-15, Common English Bible

Jesus called the disciples to share his way of life, to learn to live in his likeness. What are the practices that marked Jesus’ way of living in the love of God and neighbor. Reflect on the practices that marked life together for Jesus and his disciples.

Reflect on your story: What are the spiritual practices that have been a part of your sharing in the life of Christ and learning to walk in Christ’s way? Which have been most strengthening, challenging, or transforming? 

Reflect on your faith community: Name the key spiritual practices that mark your faith community’s way of sharing in the life of Christ.

Be still for a few moments in God’s presence. Share in prayer any memories or feelings that have surfaced. Give thanks for the grace you’ve experienced through this exercise.
Tending Your Soul:
A Seven-Day Experiment with Wholeness
by Lynn M. Baab

Our daily lives are often full of distractions and busyness. Over the next seven days, we invite you to experiment with various practices of wholeness and to see how they feel to you. Dedicate some time each evening, maybe after dinner or at bedtime, and evaluate your experience of wholeness during each day. Consider asking a friend or family member to partner with you in these experiments.

Day 1: Nature. Plan a walk, run, bike ride, drive, ferry ride, or some other outing in the natural world. Pay attention to the details of creation on your outing and all day long as you do ordinary tasks.

Day 2: Hospitality. Extend some form of hospitality, perhaps inviting a friend over for a meal or treating someone to coffee or lunch. As you offer hospitality, pay attention to the ways you are blessed by being with that person. All day long, try to be hospitable to everyone you interact with. Treat them as valuable children of God.

Day 3: Fasting. Pick something to fast from, perhaps a certain kind of food, coffee drink, or form of technology. When you find yourself reaching or longing for that thing, turn your longing into prayer for people who live with want.

Day 4: Thankfulness. Carry a piece of paper with you all day, and make notes about things you’re thankful for. See how many you can list: ten, thirty, fifty? Make a point of expressing thanks to the people you meet all day if appropriate.

Day 5: Music. Listen to music in a setting where you normally wouldn’t: in the car, while doing chores, after lunch or dinner. If you can arrange it, go to a live music performance. As you go about the tasks of your day, make an effort to sing or hum whenever you can.

Day 6: Moving your body. Do something physical that is not habitual for you. Perhaps dance as you cook, do some stretches each time you get up from a chair, rent roller skates and go for a spin, or go to a water aerobics class. All day long, try to be conscious of the gift of your physical body.

Day 7: Silence. Take some time during the day to be silent. Push yourself to experience a longer silence than you have ever experienced before. Focus on your breath. As much as you can, relax into a sense of rest and peace from God.

At the end of each day, as you evaluate your experience, pay attention to the aspects of the day’s practice that gave you a sense of wholeness. You may then want to make a plan for continued experimentation with the forms that felt whole and good to you.

This exercise and other spiritual practices may be found in our website's resource area

Excerpted from an article by Lynn M. May/June Alive Now. Copyright © 2016 by The Upper Room.
Resources for Soul Care

Creating a Life with God: The Call of Ancient Prayer Practices
by Daniel Wolpert.

Daniel Wolpert's book goes beyond the rote prayers that so many of us have experienced and found wanting. The author explains twelve prayer practices, including experiencing solitude and silence using your mind and imagination, using your body and creativity, and connecting with nature and community. Available in print and digital. Learn more


For Sabbath's Sake: Embracing Your Need for Rest, Worship, and Community
by J. Dana Trent

In our culture of constant busyness, most of us feel like we're never caught up. The lines between home and work have blurred as we stay tethered to our mobile devices and computers. Many people use weekends to catch up on errands and other work that doesn't get done during the week. Or we lead church on the Sabbath day! 

An ancient spiritual practice exists that can help restore balance to our lives: the practice of keeping sabbath. Dana Trent explores how we manage to build time for sabbath into our busy lives. Learn more.
Next week -- Experiencing God’s power for healing and resurrection

The Upper Room Center for Christian Spiritual Formation
The Upper Room
P.O. Box 340004
Nashville, TN 37203-0004

Copyright © 2018 The Upper Room, All rights reserved.

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