Maturing Toward Wholeness in the Inner Life
Exercises for Inviting God’s Healing Presence into My Inner Life
1 – Spiritual practices are exercises to facilitate spiritual growth. We learn them from Jesus and our Judeo-Christian fathers and mothers.
2 – Spiritual practices have been used for millennia—Abraham on a pilgrimage; Moses in the desert; David in the pasture; Jesus in the garden.
3 – Spiritual practices serve to
- counteract the effects of our fallenness
- open our lives to the healing, transforming Presence of God.
4 – Spiritual practices must be chosen voluntarily. They cannot be forced on me. What is forced on me by-passes my will—it is not really “me.”
5 – The healing and transformation of my person must be directed by my will—my choices. Re-forming my person begins with the re-forming of my will.
6 – Spiritual practices have no power at all to help me gain favor with God. They are like the exercises an athlete uses to train his or her body.
7 – We must avoid legalism at all costs—believing that doing a certain thing will make us more righteous before God. This is only self-reliance.
8 – I can do nothing to make myself more righteous before God except to rely continually on him as he transforms me. Jesus teaches me how.
9 – Spiritual practices have also been called “spiritual disciplines.” One protection against legalism—allow love to supersede the discipline.
10 – In love Jesus set aside the practice of Sabbath in order to heal. He interrupted times of solitude to respond to the needs of the crowds.
11 – Time-proven ways to open my inner life to God prevent him from only being an abstraction. He is calling me into a relationship of intimacy.
12 – It is tragic when God is only a concept, a theological proposition, a part of my upbringing, but I do not experience living in his Presence.
13 – When ways to invite God into my inner life are not being practiced, the dysfunctions that have negatively shaped me remain unaddressed.
14 – Resource books on spiritual practices: Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster and The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard.
15 – There is no complete list of these practices, but it is helpful to group them into disciplines of
16 – Disciplines of abstinence are practices to weaken or break the power of habits that hinder or block my ability to live in God’s Presence.
17 – Practices of abstinence are for emptying. Solitude, fasting, chastity are some examples. The Spirit removes the old and Christ’s death works in me.
18 – Disciplines of engagement are practices to open my inner life more fully to God’s Presence and support me as I learn how to live there 24/7.
19 – Practices of engagement are for filling. Study, celebration and prayer are some examples.The Spirit imparts the new and Christ’s life works in me.
20 – What I do with my body affects my soul. Using my body to sin, I wound my soul. Using my body to place myself in God’s Presence leads to healing within my soul.
21 – The parts of my being engaged:
- will—I choose to seek God
- body—I act on my choice with my body
- soul—I welcome God into my person.
22 – Solitude (abstinence)—I withdraw for a time from social contact, physical movement, and sounds, except perhaps the gentle sounds of nature.
23 – Solitude—Being still and quiet before God, I allow my soul to come to rest and clarity. I ask the Holy Spirit for healing insight and I obey.
24 – Solitude—In a way solitude is an entry point into other practices. A life ordered around listening to God will result in a heart of wisdom.
25 – Fasting (abstinence)—I refuse food for a time. This reinforces my ability to focus on God. I use each bodily impulse for food turns my thoughts to him.
26 – Fasting—I learn that I am not bound by the demands of my body. I do not have contempt for my body, but I discover its appropriate place in God.
27 – Fasting—Like other practices, fasting should begin in moderation and develop naturally. We can fast from things other than food—media, etc.
28 – Study (engagement)—I work to reshape my thinking. Old thought patterns rooted in unreality are harmful. I work to establish new ways of thinking. I prioritize the Bible.
29 – Study—I seek more than knowledge. When I don’t understand something I don’t rely only on my analytical mind. I ask the Spirit for insight.
30 – Study—I am discerning about Christian books. I gravitate toward classics of proven value over time. In new books I look for old wisdom.
31 – Study—Modern “wisdom” says read as many books as possible. The result can be much superficiality. It might be better to focus on proven texts and go deep.
32 – Study—I seek to go below the surface and enter into the author’s thought patterns. I ask “Where did he or she get that?” I ask God for wisdom.
33 – Celebration (engagement)—There is value in the parallel practice of abstinence and engagement. Celebration is a counterbalance to fasting.
34 – Celebration—If I am unable to celebrate, I may not yet be ready to fast. For centuries the church year has included both feasts and fasts.
35 – Celebration—Teresa of Avila expressed joy in both fasting and celebrating: When I fast, I fast; and when I eat partridge, I eat partridge.
36 – Focus and intensity, not compulsivity and heroics, are key in spiritual practices. I can’t have a shower with only one drop of water a minute.
Draft: Last edited—November 29, 2016
Copyright © George Miley. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles or reviews. To obtain permission to use this material, contact us.