[Hi Easter People! The second half of summer often includes preparing for the new school year: buying new clothes, signing up for extra curricular activities, and planning how and when homework will get done. While you are preparing for your academic growth, you might want to ponder whatever ways God is calling you to grow in your life of prayer and Christian service as an adult. I thought you might enjoy this post, adapted from my blog Spiritual Drawing Board. God bless! — Easter member, Julie McCarty]
In my last post, I wrote about branching out, trying new things. I mentioned exploring ways to expand your spiritual life.
I believe God wants to be close to each one of us. I believe God is full of compassion and mercy–and that God calls out to us, like a passionate lover longing for quality time with his or her beloved.
Various ways of praying do not earn us “extra credit” with God. God loves us immensely no matter what. However, if you love the Lord, you will want to spend some quality time together. There are various ways of being together, and some specific ways of praying that will enable you to be more present to God, and more aware of God’s presence in your life.
There are many ways to build a deeper relationship with God or a more developed prayer life. Looking for some ideas? Here is a list of 25 ideas of ways to expand your own spiritual time with God:
- Say grace–before breakfast. I don’t know why, but I don’t recall doing this even once. Why do I thank God for dinner but not for breakfast?
- Copy a sentence or two from sacred texts (such as the Bible). Place it where you will see it everyday, such as on the bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or screen saver.
- Walk a labyrinth, such as the one pictured at Easter by the Lake, reflecting on key points in your life as you make the turns. (Read more: Labyrinth: The Walking Prayer)
- Sign up for a retreat and mark it as high priority on your calendar.
- Read a spiritual classic. (Suggestions at Good Reads )
- Look for websites that help you learn about prayer–or actually guide you in prayer. For example, the “Daily Disconnect” offers a guided prayer reflection which includes an online timer to allow for some silent time at the end of your reflection.
- Visit a different house of worship. Been to church lately? Use the web to look at places of worship in your area, and then just experiment–visit a few in person.
- Take a prayer walk–drop everything and walk outside with God. (For more info, visit my post or other Prayer Walking Tips )
- Look for your “spiritual type.”Just for fun, try the “spiritual type” quiz on Beliefnet .
- Attend a bible study, women’s group, or other event offered at your place of worship. Don’t just read about it online. Get in touch with real people.
- Deal with your anger. Angry at your church institution? Try talking with a counselor or spiritual director about your confusion. Find a neutral person who will help you sort out the complicated, perhaps mixed feelings about religion, faith, God, and what is best for your life.
- Serve the poor at a soup kitchen and think about Jesus being in the midst of that soup line as you hand out the bowls.
- Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier each morning, sit up in bed and read the bible or devotional for those 15 minutes before getting dressed.
- Find a spiritual director and visit with him or her once a month, exploring your own spiritual dimension in a friendly, confidential, prayerful setting.
- Try coffee break prayer. Once a week, during your coffee break or lunch hour, slip into a church or quiet park bench for a few minutes alone with God.
- Make a gratefulness list. Write a list of 25 things for which you give thanks–and don’t forget to tell God about it.
- Sing a prayerful song. So what if you voice isn’t that great? Sing when you are alone–or play spiritual music during your morning commute.
- Keep a prayer journal. Write your thoughts about your religious beliefs, your feelings, your experiences, etc. in prayer form. Write letters to God about your life.
- Pray ahead of time. When you look at your calendar each morning, pray about the upcoming day’s events, asking the Holy Spirit to guide your every word and deed, to bless those you will see that day.
- Grow your spiritual mind. Want to understand your religion’s teachings at an adult level? Bring your questions to your minister, priest, rabbi, or other spiritual leader–or audit a class at a college (many religious colleges allow auditing for inexpensive rates, and/or special rates for seniors).
- Examine your conscience. During the past week, when were you especially alive to God’s presence? When did you “miss the mark”? Thank God for all that is good, and ask for forgiveness for your sins.
- Learn yoga as a way of quieting yourself in the presence of God. If you don’t feel comfortable with ancient yoga foundations, try a “devotional yoga” that combines the healthy body movements with Christian attitudes towards God.
- Ask God what things need a new home. Clean out your closet or garage in a prayerful way, seeking to give to others in a Christ-like manner. Pray for those who will receive your gifts.
- Do your normal prayer with a different body posture. For example, try reading the psalms in standing position, facing east (place of the sunrise). Or, try kneeling when you ask God to forgive your sins.
- Let the last thing you think about before going to sleep be God. Not the news, not Facebook, not your problems, but rather God. How to do this? Start a routine of prayer or spiritual reading just before you nod off at night. (Don’t worry if you fall asleep holding the prayer-book in bed. What better way to sleep, than in the arms of God?)
These are just ideas to get your creative spiritual juices going. Pick one and run with it. I’d love to hear how it goes.
Until next time, Amen!
P.S. Want little spiritual nuggets in-between blog posts? Visit the Facebook page “Spiritual Drawing Board by Julie McCarty” and click on “receive notifications” on the “like” button.