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.