In yesterday’s post I shared how God made me special…a choleric sanguine. Based on my personality I am self-motivated to spend time with God. I also thrive in a community of believers who encourage me as I develop my spiritual life.
Not only do I need to be aware of the spiritual disciplines that I am naturally drawn to, I need to become intentional about pursuing disciplines that address sin patterns God is working on in me. The chart I shared yesterday listed weaknesses I often demonstrate: insensitivity, impatience, inability to relax, exaggeration…
Ruth Haley Barton has created a list of areas in need of transformation and the corresponding disciplines we should incorporate into our rhythms for transformation:
Sin Pattern Spiritual Discipline
- Gossip & sins of speech…………………………Silence, self-examination
- Anxiety & worry………………………………Breath prayer, scripture reflection
- Envy & competitiveness……………………….Solitude, self examination
- Self-reliance……………………………………..Silence, prayer, community
- Over-busyness………………………………….Solitude, discernment, sabbath
- Anger & bitterness……………………………..Silence, self-examination
- Lack of faith………………………………………Prayer, scripture
- Selfishness & self-centeredness…………….Prayer & worship in community
- Guilt, shame………………………………………Solitude, confession, forgiveness
When I saw her list I was overwhelmed by the fact that my biggest struggles (controlling my tongue, envy, over-busyness) required the spiritual discipline of “solitude”. As I think about my “time with God” I realize how I little I spend in solitude. I may pray TO Him. Read His word. Answer questions about His word. But am I available for Him to speak to Him through His word or through His Holy Spirit?
photo credit: aigle_dore
In the book “Invitation to Solitude & Silence”, Ruth Haley Barton outlines how to execute the spiritual discipline of solitude. “Remember, the purpose of solitude and silence is just to be with God, to commune with Him on that beyond-words level that those who are in love know so well.” (again back to the relationship analogy!). Here’s the step-by-step from her book:
1. Identify your sacred space & time. Home? Outdoors? Morning? Lunch? Nap time? “Experiment with what works & what doesn’t until you find the best time & place.” I find a big leather chair in my office, with only the light of a lamp, before the boys or my hubby wake up is the perfect space & time for me.
2. Begin with a modest goal. “Ten, fifteen or twenty minutes of time spent in actual silence is realistic…the amount of time is not as important as the regularity of the practice.” I am starting with 10 minutes and setting a timer on my phone so I don’t have to be consumed with checking how long it’s been.
3. Ask God to give you a simple prayer that expresses your openness & desire for God. “Choose a prayer phrase that expresses your desire or need for God these days in the simplest terms possible. It’s best if the prayer is no more than 6-8 syllables so that it can be prayed in rhythm with your breathing.” Some examples are: “Come Lord Jesus”, “Speak Lord your servant is listening” or “Here I am.” Pray the prayer several times to start your time of silence and to focus you away from distractions. When you feel your mind getting distracted go back to that prayer.
4. Close your time in silence with a prayer of gratitude for God’s presence with you.
5. Resist the urge to judge yourself or your experience in silence. “The purpose of time spent in silence is just to be with God in whatever state you are in and to let Him be in control…it was exactly as it should be.”
Day Three Action Points:
1. What negative areas of your life do you feel God calling you to transform? Look at the list and see what corresponding spiritual discipline you need to integrate into your spiritual rhythm (if you need to know what a discipline is or how to execute it…email me or comment below and I can explain it).
2. Do you practice the discipline of solitude? Try to integrate a small amount of time Thursday or Friday of this week to try being silent and available to God, following the steps outlined above. Then perhaps find a time & space in each day to make time for solitude…even a few minutes.
**Tomorrow I will write about some simple tools for engaging with Scripture as part of our spiritual rhythm.**
Linking up with
Sounds like some reasonable goals you’ve got there. Is this a long term project or are you following a book? I noticed the numbering of days. Solitude is something i’ve come to yearn for more and more of.
I love this one today. It is beautiful and I really think I want to get that book! For me, I fall into the busyness category. I think I will try her suggestions and see what works out.
I found the chart you included today to be helpful. I may need to check out this book sometime. Thanks for sharing and glad I stopped in today!
Very helpful chart — that will really help me work on my own challenges of self-reliance, lack of faith, and selfishness. I’m so glad you shared this and linked up today!
Realize has been a few years since you posted this, but hopefully you are still here. Been having trouble dealing with what life has brought my way. Came to feel that it is because I am self centered and not God centered. In search for help I came across your site. Sounded like just what I needed. Anyway, I’m finding from today’s plan that I need to self exam. Please help me with an idea of how to begin to do this. I am a recovering addict of nine years and know all about taking my own inventory. Should revisit this step? Thank for helping others.
Thank you Linda for your comment. I would do less self-examination and focus on the qualities of God. Have you ever done a study on the different names of God? I feel like the less time I “navel gaze” and the more time I “lift my eyes to the hills”…the happier I am. God has a big plan to redeem this broken world. Keeping His view of circumstances helps keep perspective in place. Part of replacing “me” with “He” is admitting your pride, the next step is changing your mindset to think of what matters to God and not assuming everything is about you. The more you can study Scripture to learn about who God is and what His plan is, the less you will be consumed with your problems. Does that make sense? If not, please comment again. Thank you!