Every Moment Is HolyBlog / Produced by The High Calling
I was baptized into the church when I was seven months heavy with my first child. There was the bending of my head to receive the sprinkling, the awkward straightening back up, and I was made new. I had no idea what I was getting into; I only knew my heart burned within me to walk with Jesus.
The first ten years of my life as a Christian were spent in the nursery or teaching the youngest in our church. In hindsight, I can think of no better root system. The seed of my faith was planted in the rich soil of teaching the hearts of children. When I emerged from this season ready to assume my place in the adult classroom, I felt a strange sort of letdown. After a time of grown-up faith, I began to wonder, “Is this all there is?” I missed the wonder in the eyes of the children. I missed the burning in my heart.
Then I read a book by Richard J. Foster called Celebration of Discipline.
What Is a Spiritual Discipline?
What exactly are spiritual disciplines, and how do they impact our spiritual formation? A discipline, or practice as it is sometimes called, is anything we do deliberately on a regular basis that promotes spiritual growth. Dallas Willard says,
Spiritual formation … is a matter of reforming the broken soul of man in a recovery from its alienation from God. Really, it is soul reformation … through “spiritual disciplines.” These … are all matters of utilizing the body in special ways that access grace and truth to the whole person. It is in union with these activities that God “restores my soul.”
Spiritual disciplines are the things we do that bring us closer to God.
Richard Foster explains that the disciplines are not something we must do, nor are they reserved only for those we might perceive as spiritual giants. “The primary requirement is a longing after God,” he says. And he reminds, “nner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within is God’s work, not ours.”
In this two-part audio interview with Christian Doctor’s Digest, Foster talks more about spiritual formation and the ideas that led to Celebration of Discipline.
Foster divides the spiritual disciplines into three different types: inward, outward, and corporate. Under these headings, he includes such practices as fasting, prayer, study, solitude, service, confession, worship, and guidance. These are all familiar Christian activities. But are there other ways?
The Integrated Life
At The High Calling, we believe that all of life is holy; there is no barrier between what is secular and what is sacred. When we are deliberate with each moment, everything we do impacts our spiritual formation. Eugene Peterson captures this view well in this audio interview with Sheridan Voysey. “I really don’t think of that time as devotional time,” he says, referring to his early morning study and quiet time. “When I leave my room, my study, that’s when I begin … then you’re in the world and you’re praying. That’s when the praying starts to be a kind of grappling with life in Jesus’ name … ”
Is it really possible to make all of life a prayer? To dedicate each moment as holy and live it for the glory of God? Because of our brokenness, pursuing this at all times is impossible. Integrating spiritual disciplines into our life can help. But it’s important to keep in mind our individual differences. What works for one may feel stifling to another. This is why, in the same interview previously mentioned, Eugene Peterson says we all need to figure out our own best way to order our spiritual life, instead of copying others (though you might be interested in what he says is the one practice that changed his life).
It’s about what brings one closer to God. Christian Wiman writes poetry. Jan Richardson paints. Frederick Beuchner uses words to help him put “a frame around a moment.” Jamie Arpin-Ricci feels that confession leads to authentic community. Seth Haines relies on a dear friend and spiritual mentor for guidance. Kimberlee Conway Ireton prays the Jesus Prayer. Dallas Willard “works through” the Lord’s Prayer each morning. Me? I’ve found an entirely new way to recapture the wonder I found in the children’s eyes when my faith was new.
Because God made us all different yet all in his image, we are free to practice the habits that conform us to the image of Christ. Scripture tells us that whatever we do, we should do it with all our hearts, as if working for God.
When we dedicate every moment—every activity we engage in—to God, every moment is holy.