Spiritual #1 and #2 – Hearing from God: Your Spiritual Disciplines (Part 1 and Part 2)

Goal: To identify and practice selected Spiritual Disciplines to maintain a conscious contact with God.

“The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us” – 1 Corinthians 2: 10 – 12 (TNIV).

     Have you considered how you hear from your God, and how your connection with God could help you to make wise decisions that are beneficial for you and your relationships?  The practice of my spiritual disciplines not only helps me to hear from God, but they also inspire, ground, and empower my ability to discern, counsel, comfort and live an examined life, which in total assists me to be effective in my interactions with the “neighbors” (people who live within or beyond my home) I encounter daily. 

     What follows in Hearing from God: Your Spiritual Disciplines” (Part 1 and Part 2) are selected spiritual disciplines I practice and how they help me to live my life meaningfully and with purpose, especially as I endeavor to live by my identified values and virtues. As you read them, I’ll ask you to keep these questions in mind: Which of the listed spiritual disciplines do you practice?  How do (or could) they help you to connect with God, and be(come) the person you wish to be(come)? Which ones help you to love yourself and within reason,  your neighbors, as you endeavor to grow fruitful behavior in your 7 Core Areas?

Suggested Activity:  Do a little research on the subject of spiritual disciplines.  Select 2 – 4 that you’ll practice over a 30-day period. Add or augment the practice of your selected spiritual disciplines until you settle on those which help you to be connected, inspired, and empowered with your God. 

The Spiritual Disciplines:

  1. Study: Studying the Bible and other books for inspiration and self-growth is probably the best way I hear from God. It’s clear what He’s saying to me and thankfully, I hear messages about love, mercy, grace and compassion, in addition to insight regarding the practice of values that make sense to me.
  2. Worship: Worshipping in a church or when I listen to inspirational music is another important way I hear from God, often helping me to become vulnerable and feel close to God in those moments.
  3. Prayer: Prayer connects me with a friendly and wise God with whom I share my thoughts, feelings, concerns and hopes. Prayer is also the process where I meet with God to seek divine insight, guidance and wisdom regarding how to best interact with others, whether inside or outside of my office. 
  4. Silence: Silence facilitates internal calm and intuition, and when I’m calm, the logical left-hemisphere of my brain helps me to determine what steps I’m to take, which words will be beneficial in my conversations with others and what actions will be useful to create therapeutic outcomes. 
  5. Confession: Confession helps me to be true to God, to myself and to others, and reminds me that I’m not alone when I make mistakes and that I have a loving God who is ready and available to help me correct my missteps.

Spiritual #2: Hearing from God (Your Spiritual Disciplines – Part 2 of 2)

Goal: To identify and practice selected Spiritual Disciplines to maintain a conscious contact with God.

The Spiritual Disciplines (con’t):

  1. Reflection: Reflection, another discipline typically coupled with the discipline of Silence, helps me to determine what’s important, what’s a priority, what’s the goal I’m aiming for and how do I best reach or accomplish this goal. Reflection also informs and guides my motives.
  2. Meditation: Meditation, usually paired with the discipline of Study, informs and empowers me to accomplish my spiritual objectives as summed up in one of my favorite scriptures in Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
  3. Fasting: Here’s one I haven’t practiced as often as I’d like by abstaining from food to sharpen my ability to hear from God, however, I do fast in another ways, from the media and the use of other forms of technology in order to experience the discipline of Silence, and therefore to keenly hear from God.
  4. Chastity: Chastity, or the purposeful focus, demonstration and control of my sexual passion, has gotten me into trouble in the yesterday of my life, but brings peace and contentment today in my life. Chastity helps me to give the “gold medal” and honor that is to be bestowed only to one (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), to one, and to no others.
  5. Solitude: Solitude is the intentional withdrawal from others or the public in order to “recharge my batteries.” Usually paired with the discipline of Silence, Solitude helps me to practice talking boundaries when I don’t need to talk, listening boundaries when I need to be discerning, and self-care behaviors when I need rest.
  6. Simplicity: Simplicity simply helps me to “keep it simple,” as things, purposes, motives and people all find their right and proper place in my choices and decision making. I wish I practiced this discipline earlier in the first half of my life, as I have no doubt my life experiences would have been less complicated or confusing to others!
  7. Fellowship: Fellowship is one of the golden disciplines that has helped me to grow into the man I like, have accepted and still endeavor to become. I’ve grown so much as Proverbs 27:17 has been true in my life, as I’ve been spiritually and psychologically sharpened by other men (and loving and wise women too)!
  8. Service: Service has been another golden discipline in my life as I’ve also grown and received so much personal and professional satisfaction when I’ve found ways to give to others. Service has helped me to realize that God gives “Love to a thousand generations” (Exodus 20:6) when we love Him and keep His commandments, and service brings me satisfaction when I know I’m doing my part for His purposes.

Skill(s) you’d like to develop?

Next: Spiritual #3: The Five Greek words for Love or return to the Table of Contents

Thanks for reading this excerpt from Cultivating Love: Wisdom for Life. As time permits, please visit the other blogs written by Dr. Ken McGill: Daily Bread for Life and “3 – 2 – 5 – 4 – 24″ for additional information that could be helpful.

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