Spiritual Renewal: A deeper walk of faith

Spiritual Renewal

  • All of us would like a deeper spiritual life.
  • To be more aware of ourselves, others and God.
  • To live in richer harmony with ourselves, others and God.
  • To have a greater peace with ourselves, others and God.
  • To be better at anything takes some practice.

The Spiritual Practices of Lent

  • A variety of traditional practices (or disciplines, since they make us better disciples) help deepen our spiritual life.
  • The spiritual practices that are central to this season are
“I had a friend who struggled with anorexia. Her Lenten fast was to eat three meals a day: a tremendous challenge for her, but an act of obedience and courage that helped her deal.”
–Pastor David
  • Worship
  • Prayer
  • Fasting
  • Study
  • Charity
  • Service
  • These practices are not separate from each other, but connect and enrich one another.
  • Spiritual Disciplines should call us into our deeper, better selves. 

Worship

By worship we mean: Gathering with others to hear the scriptures, to sing, to pray, to be reminded of the grace and love of God, to reflect on the art and images of the gathered community

  • Worship is an important element in Christian formation and practice.
  • During Lent people commit to worshipping regularly and more frequently.
  • Most Lutheran Congregations offer special services in the middle of the week (Wednesday or Thursday), usually connected with a simple soup supper.  For information about ours click here.

A few possible ideas:

Prayer

Prayer has many dimensions: We pray with others and by ourselves.  We pray for the needs of others and ourselves.  We quiet our restless minds and listen for the voice of God.  We rest in the presence of God.

In whatever way we pray, prayer asks God to come and reign in us and in our world.

  • Prayer, also, is an important element in spiritual formation.
  • Families may commit to a daily devotion, perhaps at the dinner table.
  • Individuals may commit to a daily time of prayer.
  • Prayer and fasting are also connected by the simple truth that our hunger reminds us of the needs of others and calls us into prayer and action for them.
  • Again, most Lutheran congregations offer devotional resources for Lent.  For information about ours click here.

A few possible ideas:

  • Keep a prayer journal
  • Start or change your practice of saying grace at meals.
  • Start a practice of praying with your children as part of your bedtime ritual.
  • Start or renew a time of meditation.
  • Pray one of the psalms each morning (Actually praying it out loud, not just reading it.)
  • Read a daily reflection or devotion.  (You might try Pastor Bonde’s at Watching for the Morning.)

Fasting

Fasting is the intentional commitment to withdraw from some particular pleasure or practice for a period of time for the purpose of deepening our connection with God and others.

  • From the practice of fasting during Lent we get the familiar idea of “giving up” something for Lent.
  • Fasting is usually associated with food, in keeping with the Biblical notion that “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
  • Typically, the Lenten fast is a partial fast, giving up one thing or category of things.
  • Fasting is not an exercise of willpower, but a dedication of our lives to God.
  • Fasting reminds us of the hunger of others.  It should lead us to deeper compassion for others.
  • Fasting reveals the heart.  In our hunger, we discover things about ourselves.
  • Fasting needs to be coupled with prayer, so that our hunger brings us to prayer for someone or something.
  • Traditionally people gave up sweets or luxuries.  In the medieval period people gave up fats, sugar and eggs – thus the tradition of “Fat Tuesday” (in French = Mardi Gras) the day before Ash Wednesday when people ate up all the fats and sweets.  It gave rise to such joyful traditions as Paczki’s and beignets (donuts).  Many congregations will have a pancake supper.  For information about ours click here.

The Spiritual Value of Fasting

  • The concept of fasting in Lent is especially connected to the needs of the poor.  We eat more simply so that we have something to share with the hungry.  Thus the idea of a soup supper.
  • Fasting is also connected to prayer.  The experience of hunger makes us sensitive to the needs of others and calls us to pray for them.
  • Fasting is also a discipline.  It is an action dedicated to God, calling us to put God first, ahead of our wants, needs or desires.
  • If we go without some of those things we say we “can’t live without” we discover that “life is more than food and clothing.”
  • A fast is not just what you stop doing – it may also be what you choose to do.

A few possible ideas:

  • Give up sweets and give the money to a local food bank.
  • Give up your daily Starbucks or Pete’s coffee and give the money to
  • Give up alcohol for Lent
  • Commit to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Some Practical advice

  • What you give up should be something attainable.
  • What you give up should be something you will notice.  It doesn’t accomplish anything in me to give up something that is not important to me or that I wouldn’t eat or do anyway.

Study

We should never stop learning, especially in our knowledge of God and the scriptures.  Every “discipline” – medicine, science, the arts, auto repair – requires that we continually learn and grow.  How much more should this be true in the life of the Spirit?

  • Reading and understanding the scripture is an essential element of spiritual formation.
  • There is value in reading the scripture privately, as well as reading the scriptures in community.
  • There is great value in reading a commentary that helps us understand the scripture more deeply.  One such helpful series is the “Everyman” series by N. T. Wright.
  • There are also many Christian classics as well as contemporary writers that can stimulate and enrich our understanding of our faith and life and the wider Christian community.

Lent is a great opportunity to commit to learning more about the scriptures and faith.

A few possible ideas:

  • Join a Bible Study
  • Commit to a book with a friend and discuss it together.
  • Com

For information about ours click here.

Charity

Charity has sometimes acquired a negative connotation – but it is the word with which the King James Bible translated the word love.  It represents the actions that flow from us when we recognize others as fellow human beings, members of a common human family with one heavenly Father.

  • Lent is a season for special attention to the needs of the poor.
  • In Europe this was a time at the end of winter when food stocks began to grow thin and new harvests were not yet available; the sharing of food was important.
  • Most churches offer special opportunities for giving in Lent.  The boxes of offering envelopes used by many congregations often have a special Lent envelopes for the weeks of Lent.  For information about ours click here.

Service

Service draws us into relationship with others.

Getting involved

For information about ours click here.

“What does the Loard require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?” — Micah 6:8

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