A spiritual discipline is any regular practice that helps you feel close to Spirit. From reading scripture, to walking, to singing, there are many ways to nourish your relationship with the Divine. Reading the Daily Quaker Message is a spiritual discipline, too!

This month you are invited to reflect on your own spiritual journey and try different spiritual disciplines on for size.

The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins

The journey begins with longing, a desire for greater intimacy with God. This longing is experienced in many different ways, often as a heartfelt yearning for connection with God, or the need to be obedient to the divine will. Sometimes it manifests as dissatisfaction with the religious beliefs or practices in which one has been raised, or in dissatisfaction with the ways of the world.

A Great Discovery

A Great Discovery

The first Quakers, of the middle seventeenth century, had obviously made a great discovery. It not only changed their lives, giving them peace of mind and great joy, but it also fired them up to share what they had found and to hold it even when they were imprisoned and beaten for doing so. But what had they discovered?

Down Into the Light

Down Into the Light

There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship, and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings.

The First Step to Peace

The First Step to Peace

Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit, from thy own thoughts. Then thou wilt feel the principle of God, to turn thy mind to the Lord God, whereby thou wilt receive God’s strength and power from whence life comes, whereby thou wilt receive Gods strength to allay all blustering, storms, and tempests.

Pursuing the Kingdom of God

Pursuing the Kingdom of God

Something becomes a spiritual practice once it is done with a sense of deliberate intention, with a purposeful determination. It also requires discipline. A spiritual practice requires regular practice! Spiritual disciplines root you in the present moment, and open you to mystical experience.

“Prayer” by Any Other Name Would Sound as Sweet

“Prayer” by Any Other Name Would Sound as Sweet

Prayer is a tough word for a lot of Friends; if you need to do so, translate it into a more comfortable word as you read along. Many contemporary Friends want no part of a practice in which one dials up God to make demands. Some Friends don’t believe in a personal God who is there to hear and respond. Others think that making demands is a poor way to enter into relationship with a personal God.

The Refuge of the Inner Chamber

The Refuge of the Inner Chamber

A true mystic believes that all men have, as he himself is conscious of having, an inward life, into which, as into a secret chamber, he can retreat at will. In this inner chamber he finds a refuge from the ever-changing aspects of outward existence; from the multitude of cares and pleasures and agitations which belong to the life of the senses and the affections.

There Are Many Ways to Be Contemplative

There Are Many Ways to Be Contemplative

I’ve never, and still don’t really, find myself easily called to sitting in silent centering prayer. I haven’t given up on that! What I have learned […] however, was that there are many ways to be contemplative. That it’s more about the Holy Listening and less about what I may or may not be doing with my body in the moment. Chanting, body prayer, yoga, lectio divina, painting, poetry writing, and more became creative endeavors where I found myself being present to the moment, present to the Holy.

What Discipline is Right for You?

What Discipline is Right for You?

It is part of our formation in a listening spirituality to find which practices, at this time in our lives, are most supportive of our inward listening for the word, the guidance, the challenge, the reproof, the love – or simply intimations – of God’s presence. These can take many outward forms. It is a matter of some listening and discernment to find those which are right for us at any given moment.

Journeying Together

Journeying Together

The purpose of journeying together in spiritual friendship and spiritual community (whether there are just two of you or whether you are in a small group) is to listen to one another’s desire for God, to nurture that desire in each other and to support one another in seeking a way of life that is consistent with that desire.

What do they mean by ‘the Light of God’?

What do they mean by ‘the Light of God’?

I came to Experiment with Light by accident, almost, because I was not into things like meditation or spirituality at the time. I was very much an intellectual. I was happy; I was a university academic. But I was getting stuck on some very important aspects of my own life. My personal life, but also my understanding. I was doing some research on the Quakers, and I wanted to know, what do they mean by “the light of God”? And “that of God”? It’s a strange phrase. What do they mean by that? So I said, “Alright, I’ll find out.”

Does Scripture Move You?

Does Scripture Move You?

In the above painting, 19th century British prison reformer and Quaker Elizabeth Fry reads the bible to inmates at Newgate Prison. At Newgate, Fry established a school for children imprisoned with their parents, worked to get sentences commuted, and successfully campaigned for men and women to be separated to improve women’s safety. She taught female prisoners handwork skills to help them earn an income while incarcerated.

Iconography as a Starting Point for Prayer

Iconography as a Starting Point for Prayer

I have occasionally found the experience of sitting before an icon to be startlingly similar to the experience of intentionally opening myself before God in prayer and worship. If the attention stays with the visual object, that object may become an idol: that which intervenes in the place of God. As something that opens, leads or guides to God (another meaning for icon in the early church), it can be a legitimate starting point for prayer.

Quakers and Fasting

Quakers and Fasting

Fasting was commonly practiced [by Quakers] as a spiritual aid in the mid seventeenth century. Hogwill fasted when in prison in Appleby, Nayler had been fasting prior to his “sign” in Bristol, and Farnworth issued a challenge to a fast in the course of a debate at Cambridge.

What Are You in the World For?

What Are You in the World For?

Our first single glimpse of Jesus’ interior life must be got without the help of any actual word of His. It is given to us in the gospel accounts of His discovery of His mission. How long the consciousness of mission had been gestating we cannot tell. What books He read, if any, are never named. What ripening influence the days of toil in the carpenter shop may have had, is unnoted.

Offer Yourself in Joyful Abandon

Offer Yourself in Joyful Abandon

How, then, shall we lay hold of that Life and Power, and live the life of prayer without ceasing? By quiet, persistent practice in turning of all our being, day and night, in prayer and inward worship and surrender, toward Him who calls in the depths of our souls. Mental habits of inward orientation must be established. An inner, secret turning to God can be made fairly steady, after weeks and months and years of practice and lapses and failures and returns.

Today I Went Noticing…

Today I Went Noticing…

Today I went noticing… and I noticed how the flooding across this gravel road created a lovely reflection of the sunrise and the telephone poles. I seriously looked all around for an interesting subject — a tree, a barn, something — to photograph at sunrise. But when the time came, the closest thing I could find was ditch water. And yet I think it will end up being my favorite photograph from the outing. I do really like it.

Images Are a Primary Language For the Soul

Images Are a Primary Language For the Soul

Images are a more primary language for the soul than words, and for many they are an important way to receive inward spiritual guidance. Some inner images that come in prayer, meditation, or dreams contain great wisdom and truth. If contemplated, they may assist in needed transformation or healing or provide guidance leading toward a new way of doing things, a service that may be required, or the best possible future.

Meditative Drawing Practice

Meditative Drawing Practice

I do not have any image in mind when I start. I follow the movement within me. I start out with meditation and prayer and thank God for the materials before me to use. I like to have soft music in the background. For me, it’s a form of prayer. It can take me deep within and I feel very close to God.

The Spirituality of Togetherness

The Spirituality of Togetherness

A couple weeks ago, we invited our neighbors over for dessert at our table in our backyard. Sue made one of her ‘award winning’ trifles and since our neighbors are Indian, they made some wonderful almond cookies. We sat on our back porch on a beautiful night sharing stories, eating dessert, and learning about how we each had met our spouses. We heard of their journey to America and shared some of our journeys as well.

Searching for Treasure

Searching for Treasure

We read in silence; we read looking for God. But we read in a particular way. A man drops a rare diamond in the leaves of the forest floor. Carefully, he kneels down. One by one he lifts each leaf. Slowly he searches, knowing his lost treasure is in the leaves. And this is how it is that we must read, listen to another and wait in silence.