contemplative monk : Intentional Spirituality Transforms

Why The Emphasis on Our Spirit?

 

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The purpose of our spiritual practice is to work out what God has worked within us. It is a divine discovery process whereby we integrate the sacred into our everyday common life. 

In the West, we are highly trained to ask our soul to accomplish what only our spirit can do.

I see Believers all the time, working their souls to death, jumping through the right hoops, doing all the right things, and wondering why they’re exhausted, guilt-ridden, and can’t find a drop of peace. Why is God so far away? I’ve done this, and this, and this. I’ve fasted, I’ve prayed, I’ve given…why won’t it work? What am I doing wrong?

Your soul can never bring you into the presence of God. It’s not designed that way.

Let me share a little story

I came to Jesus out of a combination of Buddhism, Native American Shamanism and other a sundry adventures of the 60’s into the Jesus Movement. It was a wonderful and magical time. God was everywhere. For example, we’d hit the Blue Ridge Mountains and go camping on Looking Glass Mountain, in Linville Gorge, or behind Craggy Gardens at the waterfall, and discover new Believers there worshiping Jesus. We help found the Cup of Water, as a sort of Jesus Movement outreach. Then we founded Sweetwater Fellowship in Love Valley, and Judah, a Christian community with a common purse. That’s where I really got serious.

I was working 45 hr a week, praying three hours at one sitting every day, total fast two days a week, seven day fasts bimonthly, memorizing huge chunks of Scripture. We formed a band, Face to Face, I was writing songs, praying on the intercessory prayer team, and after a year and a half of this, God stopped me. He simply said, “What are you doing?”

So thinking my methods were off, I went to into Missions and off to Bible college.  We went through a 40 year Wilderness in the Church, looking for the right structure, who was doing it right. We went through Presbyterian, Plymouth Brethren, Southern Baptist, Messianic, Charismatic, the Shepherding Movement, Liberty, The Brownsville Revival, Episcopal, Theatre Church, and Anglican…looking for the perfect structure. Somebody had to have it right. I broke. My family fell apart. I ended up in deep dark suicidal depression.

That’s when I fought with God for 5 more years about Contemplation. I thought it was of the devil. The church had trained me well 🙂

So I went back to where I started, into the mystery of God instead of the will power of man. It’s taken another 5 years to make sense of the wreckage of my life.

What is seared on my heart is the love of God. That when ‘we are faithless, God is faithful, he can’t disown himself. Jesus is all I’ve got, and he’s drawn me in, every step of the way.

So Why Be Vulnerable?

The only reason I’m sharing this is a lot of us have been trying sincerely and have been suffering profoundly, without hope.  Our soul work will never, never, ever get us into the presence of God.

Here’s What You Need To Know

Jesus put it this way, God is spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.  Our spirit must lead the way, but to do that we’ve got to get our old self, our old fallen, broken soul, our old man, our spiritual pride self, and get him out of the way.

Spiritual Practices Helps Us To Remove Our Self

Spiritual practices, as the name indicates, help us to practice our spirit. This is what every spiritual practice is developed to do, be it a breath prayer, lectio divina, centering prayer, prayer and fasting, devotions, etc.

Traditions of the Ancients lists twenty-eight main practices. Practices that help us to die to our old self, so we can live to our new, whole self in Christ. Bethel and IHop use intense worship music. Ian Morgan Cron gives us a snap shot in Becoming The Liturgy, but you get the idea. There’s not just one way, except thru Jesus.

This is why we learn and tailor our own spiritual practices. They tend to grow and morf with the changing seasons of our lives. Only use those practices that help develop your access to your spiritual life…to exercise your spirit.

It’s really simple, but we in the West are profoundly analytical and thought bound  It’s hard for us. And on top of that, we live an Age of Distraction, which makes it doubly hard. Have you checked Facebook while reading this???

Letting go and letting God is seriously hard for all of us. It’s why I wrote The Art of Letting Go, to remind myself. I hope it helps.

For me, The Daily Office is awesome. I use the Book of Common Prayer. As the years flow by, it helps keep me connected…Abiding. Most days when I go through the confession and receive forgiveness, there’s a shift. I breathe in forgiveness, I breathe in the Holy Spirit by faith, and just rest in the forgiveness, mercy, and presence of God.

It’s like an old black woman I once saw rocking in the hospital, repeating, ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,’ with a smile of peace on her face. My breath prayer has become the presence of Jesus.

Come Into The Quiet Every Morning

So become a beginner every single morning. Stop throughout the day and pause time. Awaken and enter in. To walk or to live in the Spirit, we first must be in our spirit.

What sways your heart?

~*~*~*~

Photo by Carlo Bevilacqua

 

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  • Bob, this is such an interesting, insightful and helpful read. You have been on quite a journey, as indeed many of us have, and arrived at a place of knowing our souls never actually ‘arrive’ at an end point in this earthly sojourning. The journey itself is what makes and shapes us. We grow in the falling and rising again, living and loving imperfectly and always seeking to know God better. It’s His love which draws us into faith and irresistibly invites us back whenever we wander.

  • Thank You Joy! You’re always a breath of fresh air.

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