Why Spiritual Disciplines – Part 2

In a previous blog post I described two reasons why a person might practice spiritual disciplines. One was to cultivate intimacy in your relationship with Jesus and the second was to increase your awareness of God and the world.”

The idea of increasing your intimacy with Jesus is meant to reflect what Jesus talks about in John 17:3 and elsewhere. ‘And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’ (ESV)

Before I move on to the primary topic of this post stop reading. Take a long minute to sit with this question, “What does it look like for me to know God in the way Jesus talks about in John 17:3?”

Welcome back

Now, consider what is meant by ‘increased awareness of God and the world’
There is a section of scripture in John 5 where Jesus explains to us that his authority is relational authority. In other words, his authority arises from his intimacy with the Father. Then Jesus explains what relational authority actually looks like. He only does what he does because of His ‘awareness of God and the world around him.’ You can read the entire passage later but for now, consider how Jesus says that he can do nothing on His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that He Himself is doing. (my paraphrase of John 5:19-20)

One of the primary reasons for practicing the spiritual disciplines is to nurture one’s awareness to God, people, creation, ourselves.

Scripture tells us that Jesus would only do what the Father was doing. However, scripture also makes us realize ‘Intimacy’ and “Awareness’ precluded ‘Doing.’

David Benner has a book scheduled to release Sept 2014 called Presence and Encounter. Recently he offered a brief quote from the book, “Being present involves an intentional shift from a mode of doing to a mode of being. It is an orientation towards one’s experiences in the present moment that is characterized by openness and curiosity.”

He also references a quote from John O’Donohue . “Where there is depth of awareness, there is reverence for presence. But where consciousness is dulled, distant, or blind, presence grows faint and vanishes.”

Even if you have never read any literature on the spiritual disciplines, I’m believing you can think of one or two things that if you were to engage in them as a practice, there is a pretty good chance you would experience an increase in your awareness and curiosity?

For instance, have you ever actually stopped to smell a rose? Try it. It’s true. You immediately increase your awareness of the present and it’s actually a pleasant experience.

What might you begin doing as early as tomorrow that would help you cultivate your awareness, curiosity, and openness to what is going on around you? Consider all of your senses as you ponder that question.

What might you cease doing as early as tomorrow that would help you heighten your awareness of what is going on around you, and in you?

Why not try a couple of experiments this week and put to the test John O’Donohues’, ‘where there is depth of awareness, there is reverence for presence.’ And I might add, ‘there is reverence for God’s presence through His creation.’

Let me know what you discover. Post some comments below. Perhaps others will benefit from your experiences too.

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