Doing Our Spiritual Exercises: Why it Matters
I suspect you are all too aware of the consequences of not doing physical exercise— loss of muscle tone, cardio pulmonary issues, etc. But have you thought about the consequences of not doing your spiritual exercises?
Most of us glide through the day without giving much thought to our spiritual self: set aside time to focus on that. It can happen anytime: on the drive to work, before you go to bed, on a business trip. It doesn’t take a lot of time or energy, but it does take some degree of planning and mindfulness.
So what specifically are we talking about? Obviously prayer is a central exercise and your prayer life is important and very private. But what about other less obvious things such as thinking about coworkers or friends or church members who are in need. Go beyond just hearing about it to proactively trying to help. A good phrase to use in conversation when you hear of someone’s problems is, “How can I help you with that?“ (That’s a lot better than “Let me know if I can help.”)
Something I enjoy is a quiet bath focusing some mental energy on the blessings I enjoy and how I might be of help to others who are less fortunate. This has led to a number of projects and my involvement in other causes. When you focus your mind on getting outside yourself, your spiritual wavelength is broadened and you see opportunities that you may have missed before.
Some of my Jewish friends also recommend this exercise: When you get in bed each night, spend some time thinking about who might’ve been offended or hurt by your words or actions during the day. Forgive yourself for those oversights, but plan how you will set them right tomorrow. Whether it was your fault or not, carelessly spoken words can harm other people. Apologize even if you are not sure that you hurt someone. It’s not up to them to let you know.
A huge part of our spiritual life is our relationship with our spouse or partner. A powerful way to increase intimacy between the two of you is to share your innermost thoughts and specifically your spiritual thoughts. This deep level of sharing adds to the relationship, but it also gives you some spiritual clarity about yourself and your own values. The payoffs are wonderful and and it is easier to do than you might think. You will need to take a risk and volunteer a comment about your thoughts. Put your concerns aside and be vulnerable for a moment and you might be surprised to see that she follows suit. It’s worth a try.
Finally, think about your worship life. Even if you are not attending worship services regularly, do some deep reading on spiritual topics that will deepen your faith and cause you to reflect on your own life. Remember, the purpose of church is not to chastise us. It is to help us see ourselves differently through the presence of and interaction with others.
Get these ideas a chance. Try them out and let us know how they work for you. There are numerous other resources on the website to spark your creative thinking about this topic.