What if practicing doesn’t work?


Have you ever tried a spiritual discipline or practice, only to discover that it didn’t produce the results you were hoping for?  Then you’ll appreciate what I came across this past week.

Some of you, like me, have adopted one or more spiritual practices during the season of Lent.  One practice I’ve adopted for Lent is to eliminate “road noise” from my life.  When driving, I turn off the radio, the CD and the cell phone.  No music, no calls, no news.  Just me and God.  It’s a modern day equivalent of solitude.  And it’s really interesting what happens in those times.

I received a small book called, “Less is More: A Lenten Guide for Personal Renewal.”  (I know, the title didn’t work for me, either.)  But inside this book I discovered some great insights into spiritual practices, or disciplines.  I thought you may also find it helpful.

The writer was sharing that sometimes the practice of solitude creates some problems.  He writes:

A confession: I’d rather be studying, serving, and engaging others in life-giving conversations than just sitting and being quiet.  For years, I didn’t see the point.  Even when I did begin to understand the reasoning behind it, I couldn’t talk myself into it.  What’s the benefit?  What will I gain?  Will it work?

My questions uncovered the false assumptions I had about solitude in particular, and the spiritual disciplines in general.  I was assuming a cause and effect relationship with God.  “I am quiet.  You, God, speak.”  “I give. God, you reward.”  If I didn’t get the response I wanted, I would say something like, “That didn’t work” and move on to something else. 

Then one day my daughter said, “Daddy, come and sit with me.”  I assumed she wanted me to do something.  She just wanted me next to her.

Aha.  So does God.  Solitude became God’s invitation to “come and sit with me.”  If, in the quiet, I heard something from God, I was grateful.  But, it was enough just to be together.

Have you attempted to adopt a spiritual practice for Lent?  If so, does wanting something, or needing something from God keep you from just being with God?  Maybe God is content to just spend time hanging out with you.  Maybe your spiritual practice is “working” just fine.

If you’ve benefited from the practice of the Big Read (reading and reflecting on Scripture), be sure to add your comments in the section below.  Even if it’s just knowing that you were simply spending time with the God who made you.

-Pastor Mark

Posted on February 21, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Camille Bisceglio

    “The Big Read” was truly an answered prayer for me. I had been praying for something that would encourage me to explore the Word of God and then came “The Big Read”. Yes, this has been life-changing for me. I have spent time with my God and my Bible every morning without fail and believe that it changed my perspective and my focus. I felt so much more connected to the Lord over the course of the whole day and found myself thinking about what I read in the morning all day. I don’t want The Big Read to end and I think we should just continue till we have read every book and every chapter! Can I do this on my own? I have started a practice I want to continue. I am thankful and grateful for this series and it made all the hours I spent putting together those Big Read journals so worth it! : ) I pray so many others have benefitted as I have. Thank you Mark!!!

    • I agree with you Camille…I don’t want the Big Read to end either! I also found the thought provokinq questions in the journal helpful too. But most of all, I have enjoyed the perspective God has given me during this reading of Mark and John. Like you, I plan to continue the practice every morning…it has definately drawn me nearer and closer to the heart of God ❤

  2. During the BIG READ I have found that I am more engaged at a deeper spiritual level with God. The familiar stories I read in Mark and John revealed more detail and character about Jesus than I have ever noticed before. I have also experienced an increased desire to align more of who I am and who I want to be, with His character and purposes. Thank you SCCC for taking the time to put the BIG READ program together. I was blessed with a binder that was paid for by someone else…way cool!

    Thank YOU Jesus for moving the hearts of those who love you!!!

  3. I started the BIG reading a week late. I tried to catchup and was some how behind and missed few day. I made sure I read the rest of the scriptures by my own. Despite the fact that we have heard these scripture fro years but this time was so different to me. I wish we could continue as the rest of the people here.

  4. The “Big Read” was awesome! I wish we could keep it going. I really felt it benefits anyone trying to focus on a closer relationship with God. It helps set aside that “quiet together time,” and also gives you a deeper meaning to what you’re reading and meditating on.

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