THEME: EMOTIONAL HEALTH AND CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY OFFER A SPIRITUAL REVOLUTION IN OUR LIVES.
BREATH PRAYER: LORD, REFRESH MY SOUL WITH YOUR NEARNESS AND LOVE.
- In a journal, note the day, time, and place you’re sitting.
- Open with a few moments of silence. Rest, and breathe deeply.
- Complete the following sentence in your journal: Today, I feel ________________.*
- Read these words slowly (aloud or silently):
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. (James 3:17-18)
Pray this week’s breath prayer and pause for a few moments of silence.
[A “breath prayer” is a short prayer that is meant to be repeated, often as we breathe in and out. This ancient practice helps quiet our noisy minds and remember that God is near. To pray the breath prayer, simply sit comfortably and close your eyes, repeating the phrase silently as you breathe in and out. After allowing this prayer to help you fully rest in the moment, continue on with the day’s practice.]
In the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero outlines the “Top 10 Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality.” Read through this list a few times and reflect on how much you see these symptoms at work in your own life. Then write a number between 0-5 beside each phrase to help you see which symptoms are most present. A “0” means “I do not see this symptom in my life” and a “5” means “I can clearly see this symptom in my life.” When you are finished, make note of 1 or 2 symptoms that really seem to grab your attention.
- Using God to run from God – Using Christian activities such as Bible Study, reading Christian books, or Christian responsibilities as a means to escape dealing with pain.
- Ignoring anger, sadness, and fear – Often due to the belief that these emotions are sinful and cannot be trusted.
- Dying to the wrong things – Dying to the healthy desires and pleasures of life such as friendships, joy, art, music, beauty, recreation, laughter, and nature.
- Denying the impact of the past on the present – Assuming that because we are a new creation in Christ, our past no longer impacts our present.
- Dividing life into “secular” and “sacred” compartments – Relegating God to only “Christian activities” such as church activities and spiritual disciplines.
- Doing for God instead of being with God – Prioritizing productivity in the Kingdom over intimacy with the King.
- Spiritualizing away conflict – Avoiding conflict in the name of being a “peacemaker.”
- Covering over brokenness, weakness, and failure – Presenting an image of ourselves as “having it all together.”
- Living without limits – Saying “yes” to opportunities or requests for help in spite of the fact that we are overloaded.
- Judging other people’s spiritual journey – Comparing ourselves positively or negatively to the perceived spiritual maturity of others.
Now get quiet for 10-15 minutes and take your one or two most evident symptoms to God. Ask him, “Lord, what do you want me to know about these?” Listen in the stillness and see what comes to mind, whether it be a thought, scripture, song, picture, etc. Be open to what He says. Write down anything you “hear” in your journal.
[Don’t be upset or frustrated if this step is difficult or uncomfortable at first. Even if you hear nothing, or can’t seem to rein in your thoughts, the Lord loves that you desire to spend time with Him and is always pleased with you!]
Digging Deeper … Read 1 Samuel 15:7-25 and make note of the times in this story where Saul exhibits any of these symptoms.
- Summary: Write a brief summary (five sentences or less) of what you discovered during your time of reflection.
- Closing: Rest in the fact that you are not a “finished product” and thank God for His grace in growing you where you need it most.
* “Today I feel …” This may seem like an unnecessary step, but it is one of the most important things you can do each day. Take a moment and notice how you feel, describing it in a few short words. For instance: “I’m feeling tired, happy, bored, restless, frustrated, weary, etc.” This is difficult at first, but in time this practice becomes easier, and it encourages you to be honest with both God and yourself.