This past Sunday we launched a new series at The Vine Church, called “Old School: Enrolling in the School of Jesus.” In it we are digging into spiritual practices which bring us into deeper communion with God. I’ve asked some friends – some of the best spiritual seekers I know – to share what they’ve learned and experienced about spiritual formation. Today’s guest post is brought to you by Lance Boley (bio after post).
Beginning a spiritual discipline can be frustratingly complicated. First, there are so many kinds of disciplines from which to choose. Dallas Willard speaks of the disciplines of abstinence and the disciplines of engagement. Richard Foster breaks it down according to the inward, outward, and corporate disciplines. Urban Holmes, not for the faint of heart, defines them in terms of apophatic vs. kataphatic and speculative vs. affective. Sounds like a lot of fun, right?
Putting all categories aside, what if I simply want to pray more? Which prayer form will I choose? Mark Thibodeaux outlines four kinds of prayer: talking at God, talking to God, listening to God, and being with God. And if I want to swim in the contemplative prayer stream, will it be Centering Prayer, Breath Prayer, or Welcoming Prayer?
But wait. It gets even more complicated. Isn’t all of life spiritual anyhow and thus one big discipline full of countless disciplines every day? Responding kindly to a hateful email is a spiritual discipline. Practicing peace in a tense staff meeting is a spiritual discipline. Doing church is a spiritual discipline. So now I have formal (planned) and informal (unplanned) disciplines!