January 2021 Sermon Resource

5 weeks of Spiritual Practices

As we walk through our vision series we want to take a look at a different spiritual practice each week. This is a guide to help you understand what each spiritual practice is, as well as a couple ways to practice it during the week. This is a tool to help you engage with God outside of Sunday mornings so you can approach each day with the Spirit of God.

MEDITATION (Wk 1 - Gospel)

Definition:

Thomas Merton has defined this well: "By study we seek the truth in books or in some other source outside our own minds. In meditation we strive to absorb what we have already taken in." (Dallas Willard)

Why?

God has called us to reflect on His word (Phil 4:8). This week we are going to practice that.

Try It Out:

  • Think about the message from Sunday. What resonated with you? How can you incorporate what the Lord taught you into your day?
  • Think through a moment that really stirred your faith. Meditate on that memory and thank God for that time.
  • Take some time to be alone with God and reflect over your relationship. Does your current walk bring Him glory? Are you closer to Jesus than you were this time last year? If not, ask yourself what circumstances (job loss, pain, new kid, lack of church involvement, no quiet times, etc.) have changed and what you can do differently.

SILENCE (Wk 2 - Formation)

Definition:

The silence we are going to be practicing can be defined in two ways: the absence of noise and the practice of not speaking.

Why?

We are practicing silence in order "to recognize God's voice, and how to distiguish God's voice from the voice of others." (Dallas Willard)

Try It Out:

  • Spend 10 minutes quieting your mind. Try reading scripture beforehand to get into a better mindset. Do your best to turn off the white noise of daydreaming and to-do lists and focus on who God is.
  • Read Psalm 139:23. For 10 minutes, repeat the words you have read silently in your mind. Let the Word of God speak to you.
  • When given the chance to speak or be silent, choose to be silent and inentionally listen. While you're spending more time listening, ask God to speak to you about other people or situations. This can be practiced in conversations with others or with the Holy Spirit in times of solitude.

SIMPLICITY (Wk 3 - Stewardship)

Definition:

Dallas Willard defines simplicity as "the arrangement of life around a few consistent purposes, explicitly excluding what is not necessary to human well-being."

Why?

Practicing simplicity "helps us to make space in our lives for other disciplines and graces of God." (Dallas Willard)

Try It Out:

  • Start by simply asking God to reveal where you spend most of your time. Abstain from the things that you would normally do to mindlessly fill your day (watching TV, scrolling through social media, crafting, etc.) and read a spiritual book or spend time in prayer instead.
  • God has called us to use our talents (spiritual gifts) to benefit others and to experience the joy of making a difference. Discover your spiritual gifts and find serving opportunities at our Volunteer Page.
  • Pray about how you can recommit to giving back to God the treasure that is His. This week avoid unnecessary purchases. Keep track of the money that you would have normally spent on coffee, clothing, or eating out. Give that money back to God at the end of the week.

WORSHIP (Wk 4 - Unity)

Definition:

Worship is a way of life that consistently gives God the worth that He is due.

Why?

The reason we worship is to experience God and lose ourselves in the fullness of Him.

Try It Out:

  • Worship is not only done through song. Try reciting the names of God, reading scripture, or worshipping in silence. Have a heart focused on God as you do these things.
  • Start your day by listening to worship music. Send a worship song to a friend who could use some encouragement.
  • Worship God in nature. Take a walk in your neighborhood or on a trail and observe God's creation. Thank Him for what He's made. (Dallas Willard)

PRAYER (Wk 5 - Renewal)

Definition:

Prayer is an honest and open conversation with our Lord. It is often overlooked that prayer is just as much about listening to the Holy Spirit as it is us speaking.

Why?

Oswald Chamers said, "Prayer is not simply getting things from God, that is an initial form of prayer; prayer is getting into perfect communion with God."

Try It Out:

  • Spend some time today asking God to give you the names of specific people in your life to whome you could be a light. If appropriate, send them a text to let them know you are praying for them.
  • Pray the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). Slowly reflect on each line as you go.
  • As you begin to practice prayer as a spiritual discipline, try to pray in new and different ways. For example, if you always pray silently, attempt to pray our loud. If you always pray with your eyes closed and head bowed, pray with your eyes open and face reasied to God. If you pray with your hands folded, consider praying with your hands open or raised. (Dallas Willard)