The Walk-on-Water Syndrome
Laity need a constantly renewed sense of direction from the church, and need to work together to set and achieve goals for dimensions of Christian life; the inner upbuilding of faith;
1.Take seriously the example of Jesus in our prayer life: ‘keep our lives warmed at the heart of his life’. We are called first of all to belong to him as Savior and Lord – nothing else is more important for one’s vocation as a Christian.
2.The persistence of an Olympic athlete is needed in the pursuit of spiritual growth. Continuing theological study, as well as prayer and meditation, involve our emotions, so we are tempted to neglect all such disciplines during periods of vocational or familial stress or when God appears to be absent. The only answer is an exercise of the will and persistence in the spiritual disciplines (and see Richard Footer, The Celebration of Discipline).
3.The use of a range of devotional resources can undergrid our determination to persist in honing our gifts and expanding our experience of spiritual growth. For some this primarily involves the Bible. Others find the classics of spirituality a great resource.
4.Participation in prayer retreats, a resource now undergoing a widespread ‘revival’. Silent retreats, private but structured retreats, and led or taught retreats, are among the variety of experiences readily available. Quiet days, weekend or three or four day retreats are now reasonably commonly accessible, but there is as yet little attempt to emulate the extended retreats. The extended retreat, is still in the process of rediscovery and theological exploration to determine the format and content appropriate to the late twentieth century. The saints who have continued in the faith through great tribulations, have much to share with mature Christians.
5.The keeping of a prayer diary or spiritual journal, to clarify one’s experiences, and perceive, usually in retrospect, the evidence of God’s guidance (and see above).
6.The need to ‘personalize’ one’s devotional life. By this is meant the identification of when, where, and how to pray in the context of one’s work and family commitments, temperament, and stage of spiritual growth. There is no one right pattern for all, and no one pattern that will be equally helpful to one person across all phases of his or her life. By ‘trial and error’ a family or individual has to work out what ‘works for them’ at this time – early morning solitary prayer, family devotions at the tea table,, bedtime prayers with young children, a Sunday night family circle, and so on. The busy lay worker can find a suitable time slot in the day’s routine, whether it is in one’s office, or a lunchtime stroll or park bench quiet time.
7.What are the reality factors? What are the constraints as to time, money, family, work commitments, recent or impending job change, program availability and flexibility, and my ability to schedule appropriate blocks of time for continuing education? How will I obtain the necessary books, study guides, supervision, equipment (audio or video players, etc.)? Can I work at home, free from interruptions, or do I need to find an alternative study location?
8.What is being accomplished? What changes are resulting from participation in continuing education opportunities? Do the benefits justify the costs in time, money and effort? How can I evaluate the effectiveness of the program, or time spent? What are the relative costs and benefits for me personally.
9.What is being planned for the future? Have is set myself goals for further education, and are these being achieved? Are my short-term and long-term vocational goals clearly established, so that I can discern whether or not they are being met? Have I considered my continuing education intentions for this month, this year,, the next five years, the next ten years?
10.Take time to read back over these suggestions, and consider their implications for your growth in spiritual maturity and vocational effectiveness. Do you need more information on what is available in your area? Who would hold information on the names and contact points of teachers on prayer and spirituality, the location of retreat centers, devotional materials, or training in the conduct of prayer workshops and retreats? Note down the questions which arise for you, and ideas for your own growth which are worth further exploration.
- Spot-Check Inventory: (georgehach.wordpress.com)