A spiritual practice is any regular and intentional activity that establishes, develops, and nourishes a personal relationship with the Divine that allows us to be transformed.
So what’s stopping us?... I don’t have time – I can’t possibly find an hour each day… I’m simply not comfortable with silence… I live my life in action – I can’t imagine what I’d find in retreating from the world… (I don’t believe in that kind of stuff…)
Not all spiritual practices require silence and stillness, or withdrawal from the world, or meditation, or retreats, or ascetism. Not all spiritual practices require a lot of time. The good news is…
Transforming the secular into the sacred From the point of view of God’s Dream for humanity (the “Kingdom of God”) there is no distinction between secular and sacred: every activity we do either helps or hinders the God’s Presence in this world. So, how do we retrain ourselves to see everything we do as “prayer”?
For busy people: Five different ways to be spiritual “in the world” 1. The Jesus Prayer 2. The Practice of the Presence of God 3. Saying prayers for all occasions 4. Engaging in Mindfulness Practice 5. Seeing your Day as your Prayer
1. The “Jesus Prayer” Traditional: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me.” Contemporary: any invocation of Jesus that you can repeat easily over a long period of time. Kallistos Ware, promoter of the Jesus Prayer
The “Jesus Prayer” You pray it until it prays itself It provides a “vessel” which contains your day (your day unfolds within it) It reminds us of who we are and whose we are It helps make every action sacred Try it when walking the dog… shopping… raking the lawn… doing the dishes …
2. Practice of the Presence of God Perform every action as if you were performing it directly for God Consider every action as a contribution to building God’s Kingdom Be mindful and present to every action, and sense its inner perfection – wash dishes with love, bring the garbage out as a contribution to the Kingdom…
3. Prayers for all occasions Many religious traditions have evolved prayers for all occasions –Celtic spirituality –Islam –Judaism –Monastic Christianity Some of us still pray at meals and at bedtimes, but…
Prayers for all occasions What might our life look like if we memorized a repertoire of prayers for every activity of our day?... What might that do to our image of God? Of our life? Of the world? Your local bookstore has many examples of books on prayers for different occasions. Find one you are comfortable with.
4. Mindfulness Practice Our Buddhist brothers and sisters focus on mindfulness in every task. Be fully present to everything you do. Do every action with full intention, never as a routine, never absentmindedly. Learn to appreciate the intrinsic beauty, complexity, skill in each action See each action in context: in what ways does this act contribute to greater beauty, love, justice?
The “Breath-prayer” Pay attention to your breath. As you breathe, say: “ I breathe in God’s Presence; I breathe out my tension…” Find “triggers” during your day to remind you to say the Breath-prayer – stoplights; feelings; mealtimes… Pray the Breath-prayer while walking Use Breath-prayer for thankfulness, peace, centring Use Breath-prayer when angry, confused, worried…
5. The Day as Your Prayer This is about a balance between action and contemplation Start the day with an “Intentionality prayer” End the day with an “Awareness Examen” Throughout the day, see each action as a contribution (or not) to God’s Dream of a just and compassionate humanity.
The “Intentionality Prayer” Whom will I meet today? How might I be God’s Presence to them? What graces do I need for the day?
The Awareness Examen When did I feel closest to God today? When not? What contribution might I have made today to God’s Dream for humanity? What opportunities did I miss?
The keys to a spirituality “in the world” Be intentional – set your mind to seeing the presence of God in every event Be mindful – pay attention to what is truly happening in each situation See everything as sacred See every act as potentially helping to bring about God’s Kingdom