Millennials Talk about Spiritual Disciplines

Millennials Talk about Spiritual Disciplines

Millennials Talk about Spiritual Disciplines
by Janelle Koontz

 

Earlier this year, the Millennials Connect Group went through a four-week series on spiritual disciplines or rhythms. We were invited to address the following questions:

  • I want to experience God on a deeper level. What can I do?
  • What are some different ways to engage in prayer?
  • I read the Bible, but that’s about it. How can I read scripture more meaningfully?
  • I hear people talk about spiritual disciplines. What are they for exactly?
  • How can spiritual rhythms help me slow down?

We started the series with an introduction to the purpose of spiritual disciplines, basing the four weeks in the truth of Jesus transforming us. Spiritual disciplines get us to the place where change actually takes place. One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Craig Dykstra: “The Lord of the dance summons us to the floor, and it takes time and discipline to learn the steps, to cease tripping over our own feet, and to experience the obedient freedom of following God’s lead.” There is so much freedom and grace in the disciplines because we do not control our own formation or growth; so, we have the space to creatively build the environment where the transformation occurs through the work of the Spirit! Disciplines help us become truly beautifully holy as we live with Jesus.

Throughout the series, our class practiced several disciplines together: coloring scripture (drawing a picture representing a passage or colorfully writing a word that stands out in the passage); praying in community; putting together Bible passage puzzles as a memorization technique; practicing Lectio Divina (a Bible reading discipline with steps, which focus on one’s relationship with God through listening and help scripture sit in one’s soul); reciting others’ prayers; going through the Examen; journaling prayers; praying scripture; creating a breath prayer; diagraming intercessory prayers; and listening in prayer.

Through discussion, prayer stations, activities, and a talk about the true definition and effective practice of rest, the Millennials Connect Group looked into some practical ways to think about alignment—alignment of our hearts with the heart of Jesus and the settling of our souls—us in Christ, and Christ in us. We emphasized that growth is slow and requires more being than doing. Success or achievement often comes with a measurable win, but success in spirituality is often not immediately recognizable. And yet it is—spiritual disciplines impact the way we respond to a harsh word more graciously, how we ask to pray for someone more quickly when they share a difficult part of their life, the way we listen a little longer when someone is talking, and how we more acutely sense the beauty around us in nature and in God’s image bearers. This is living with Jesus.

From a personal standpoint, leading these four lessons on spiritual disciplines was a significant growth experience for me—in faith, in courage, in leadership, in knowledge. I was very excited (and also nervous!) to share what I loved about the disciplines with my Connect Group, and I wanted the lessons to involve a lot of hands-on, practical experiences for the class. I revisited Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Sacred Rhythms, as I crafted the content and was amazed at how her words were so fresh and reviving, and yet at the same time like I was hearing myself talk! I realized that over time, this language of transformation had really become my own, and I had not even realized that God had so worked in my heart in this way. These four weeks compelled me to be reminded of the gracious work of God in my life, through the Holy Spirit. Romans 12:1-2 indicates that all we have to do is “offer” ourselves, and God will do the work so that we may “be transformed.” He invites me to follow him faithfully and participate in his work, as he does the reshaping of the dis-integrated parts of my life into a whole that looks more like his Son.


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