Intentionality – the Spiritual Disciplines Post Part 1 – CommunionPosted: February 7, 2010
We must not be led to believe that the Disciplines are only for spiritual giants and hence beyond our reach…
— Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline
About 3 or 4 months ago, I formed a plan for my own spiritual development, as part of my school curriculum. Since I’m going through this series on Intentionality, I figure why reinvent invent the wheel? So I’ll just review my goals and see how I’m getting on with it… or not.
In class we used the 3 Cs model of spiritual growth – Communion, Commission, and Community. I’ll review my goals under each. Since there are several components under each of these headings, I’ll do Communion here, and Commission and Community in follow-up posts.
What I Planned About Bible Reading
[My goal] is to go beyond the requirements of the class… I will try to spend at least 10 minutes in the morning and evening focused on a particular passage of scripture that relates to my current situation.
How I’m doing – This was going very well, right up until the holidays. Since the new year, school has been so busy that I almost always do only the required readings for school. Mind you, that’s a lot of reading… but I set the goal to go beyond that, and I’ve let it slide. I’m not too beat up about this one, because my required readings seem to be just what I need right now…
What I Planned About Meditation
My goal is to continue, strengthen, and engrain this practice into my routine…
How I’m doing – Again, the holidays. I was getting away for a half hour most days before the New Year, and that just fell off. I miss that, I’m picking it back up starting today.
What I Planned About Prayer
[The goal is] focused times of communion with God, that have been set aside for that purpose, rather than incidentally encountered… [my aim] is to pray [deliberately] first thing in the morning and in the evening, both for about a half hour.
How I’m doing – the morning prayer tends to work out. The evening… not the best. Of course I pray throughout the day, as things arise, but the goal here is to be more deliberate. This needs work.
What I Planned About Fasting
…to train my mind to view fasting as a response to various situations in life that is as appropriate as bible reading or prayer.
How I’m doing – I think I’m ok on this one. I think fasting is very situational, and in the one situation where it came up recently, my response was to fast.
What I Planned About Singing
My desire is to go through an entire songbook and become… familiar with all the songs…
How I’m doing – I’m gonna run with this one a bit. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m all messed up when it comes to music. I spent so much time being so close to the music of the world (let him that hath an ear, hear), that it sometimes seems like I *just* *can’t* get some of these songs out of my head. I don’t walk around whistling the tune or anything, but sometimes something will happen that reminds me of a line from one of those songs, and before you know it I’ve ran through 2 verses in my mind.
The goal of going through the songbook goes back to the principle of Luke 11:24-26: bad things need to be replaced with good things; otherwise, they come back, probably worse. In my place, I’m trying to replace songs of the world with songs of the church. So after all that, how’s it going? Pretty good, I think. I pretty much don’t listen to secular music anymore, other than a few old favorites that have passed a rigorous screening process. My “collection” of spiritual songs isn’t huge, mainly because I find I don’t have much time for recreational music anymore. When I do, it’s mainly in the car, and I listen to a lot of talk radio. So, not bad…
Overall, how am I doing with communion? God knows. Despite all of the things I just mentioned, I’m coming to understand that relationship with God is about being more than doing. To quote Foster again, “The needed change within us is God’s work, not ours.” If I just look at my performance next to my goals, I’d probably give myself somewhere between a 60 or 70 – and that’s only because I like myself, it’s probably far too high.
Thank God my relationship with God isn’t measured on a scale of 1 to 10. (Don’t you just hate that question?) Through my marriage, school experiences, and yes even my not-so-great-but-getting-better-every-day attempts at spiritual discipline, I’m growing closer to God in a more meaningful way than any time since I first named the name of Christ over 10 years ago.
How are you doing?