The purpose of spiritual practices is NOT to earn more grace or love or mercy or forgiveness or power or more eternal life. The truth is, once we become believers in Jesus Christ, we have gained a heavenly inheritance which is complete and can not be added to by human means. To think that we can add anything or earn anything in addition to what Jesus Christ gained for us through His death, burial, and resurrection is unthinkable.
However, to believe that there is no way for us to enhance our connection to and experience of God, the Father; of Jesus Christ, the Son; and of the indwelling Holy Spirit in our day to day relationships with them … our daily walk as practicing Christians, is inconceivable. Throughout the history of the faith, the spiritual fathers and spiritual mothers of our faith discovered that spiritual practices (disciplines) were not only invaluable to “spiritual formation” but essential. Often these spiritual forefathers and foremothers suffered greatly because the intimacy that they gained via spiritual practices produced a visibly unique level of intimacy with God. This level of intimacy was uncommon and consequently many of the saints who practiced spiritual exercises were often jailed, burned, tortured, and caste out of the church as heretics. Anytime a Christian attained some sort of special connection with God, they were suspected of heresy.
Spiritual formation, also known as Christian maturity, is the ultimate goal for every Christian. Freely accepting the gift of salvation from God through Jesus Christ is just the initial part of our journey toward Him and maturity in Him (and we accept this free gift via God’s grace.) The major part of the journey is concerned with our connection with God. It must be deep and personal. It must be consistent…day in and day out so God will be glorified in our lives. (To me, glorified means that His life is increasingly and consistently expressed through each of us who belong to Him and His forever family.)
There are many spiritual practices. A few are:
· bible study
· meditation on scripture
· solitude and silence
· scripture memory
· praise and singing
The only way to approach God is with reverence and humility and meekness of heart. The bible is clear that “fear” of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A.W. Tozier, in Knowledge of the Holy, says that the way a culture views God is strategic. The spiritual practices are aimed at posturing us before the Holy Spirit so that He can work within us. His goal is to renew our minds, change our hearts and inner thoughts and attitudes, increase the presence and quality of His fruit (the Fruit of the Spirit) in our lives and make us more like Jesus (conform us to the image of Christ.) [Think how much sin we get into on a daily basis or how much sin we casually tolerate because we have a “low view” of God or we lack a deep respect for who He is and what He is capable of.]
Blessings to you.