Spiritual disciplines help us answer the question: How do we know? Because we can neither build a physical tower nor a metaphorical tower to God, especially since Pentecost God himself in His Holy Spirit has worked with us in the spiritual disciplines to answer this question. This is sometimes referred to as the process of sanctification.
Spiritual disciplines may serve at least three objectives.
- One objective is to help remove impediments that affect our relationship with God—things like sin.
- Another objective is to respond to a special path of grace that God has uniquely given us.
- A further objective is to facilitate the process of reconciliation with those we have sinned against.
Contemplative prayer focuses on reducing impediments to our relationship with God. For example, one author sees three steps in contemplative prayer: recollection (concentrating our minds to become fully present), quieting our spirits, and spiritual ecstasy—God’s response.
By contrast, another author sees nine spiritual personality types that lead us to God’s grace. These are: naturalists, sensates, traditionalists, ascetics, activists, caregivers, enthusiasts, contemplatives, and intellectuals. For example, the traditionalist experiences God through three main elements: ritual, symbol, and sacrifice. By contrast, for intellectuals, the sermon is not just part of worship—it is worship.
The process of reconciliation is seldom addressed as a separate spiritual discipline, but needs to factor into many disciplines and may even be part of church governance. We see it addressed, in part, in Christian service, in work relationships, our marriages, our small groups, and our worship. If the spiritual disciplines are ranked in order of need, reconciliation would clearly rank near the top of the list.
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