Spiritual Practice


     Each week in the classroom I have a chance to say to a diligent child, pressing in while poring over his or her math work, “Keep at it.  You know, practice makes better.”

     The phrase has been “Practice makes perfect” for way too long–practice will never make us perfect, but it will make us better.
     About two years ago I began a spiritual practice that has greatly impacted my life, especially lately.

     I sensed God telling me to fast 2 meals every Friday as a way to intercede for a struggling family member.  I somehow knew in ‘my knower’ that the action itself would just move things.  Don’t ask me how, I was simply confident in the power of fasting.  Unschooled but confident.

     Fasting now has been a regular part of what I do every Friday, so much so that I actually look forward to it. My list of people I pray for (out loud and in my spirit) has grown. Denying my flesh is letting my spirit grow more in tune with God, and skipping meals is getting easier.

     Now, I cannot go away to a quiet place to pray.  There is no closet………I spend my days at an elementary school.

     But I can stand aside at recess and pray in place with one eye on the playground.
     I can walk and talk quietly to my Heavenly Father while in the hallways to and from music and PE and all the other places I’m to and fro-ing.
—————————–
     Fasting is NOT a traditional part of my spiritual background; I have been a believer for 40 years in the Protestant/Charismatic faith, with a more ‘modern’ view of church practices.  But I often think important things have been lost in all that modernity–there is something powerful in pursuing spiritual practices as we observe the seasons in our life.

     To that end, I have been been paying more and more attention to the liturgical calendar and the seasons–such as Lent–researching the Biblical references to fasting.  What does The Word have to say about it anyway?

     In his book “God’s Chosen Fast”, Arthur Wallis reminds us that our Saviour didn’t say I F  you fast, He said W H E N  you fast (Matthew 6:16-18).

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do…
but when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting,
but only to your Father, who is unseen…”

     Jesus urged his followers to do something new, stepping aside from their Hebrew ways, to instead anoint themselves with oil and wash their faces when they fasted–so they would shine–shine with joy and peace and light.
     That is my desire–to lift Christ up wherever I am and be a witness for Him, drawing people to my Father’s light.

Wallis goes on to define God’s chosen fast as,

“that which He has appointed,
that which is set apart for Him to minister to Him
to honor and glorify Him,
that which is designed to accomplish His sovereign will.”
     And what is God’s sovereign will?  One thing I know for sure is He wishes that all people would come to Him; that is my to-myself prayer for my loved one each Friday. 
     In my set apart time I am certain it is accomplishing God’s will and my in-my-spirit prayers, in the words that I don’t say, are prayers from the Father.
     Last Friday morning, with all of this on my mind, I read a post by Mark D. Roberts on The High Calling dot org “Called to be Faithful, not Successful”, which got me to thinking about witnessing at work.
Here was Mark’s encouragement:
“So, when it comes to sharing your faith with others,
your job is similar to that of Ezekiel.
You are to take to heart God’s Word and
then share it with others as
truthfully and honestly as you can.
To be sure, you should do so in ways that are
appropriate and respectful.
Yet, you do not have to worry about whether or not you will succeed.
That’s God’s business. Yours is to be faithful.”
     Right then and there, I bowed my head and prayed for a specific person for a specific opportunity at a specific time at work for that day. And because of the foundation I had built of honesty about how God had made a difference in my life, I knew there would probably be an open door.
      Amazing thing is, 30 minutes later I parked my car, walked up the steps to my school alongside a friend, who so very quietly and nonchalantly……………asked a question –a perfect door-opening question for me to respond about my faith.  And there I was, ready to give an answer.
The rest, as they say, isn’t exactly history, but it is a story. Stay tuned.
~~~~~~~~~~~
Sharing in Community with Ann Voskamp  at a Holy Experience and
 with Jennifer Lee for
because that question and conversation weren’t no ‘coincidence’………..

Top photo by the Author, ‘Angelus’ painting by Francois Millet, sourced from Google Images.

4 thoughts on “Spiritual Practice

  1. Jody, this is such a thoughtful post. My tradition has also not been one that espoused a lot of the traditional practices. But I am being drawn into them now, even while I remain engaged in my current church community. There is much to be said for letting Him work in us through these rhythms.

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