Examples: Prayer, Sabbath, and Fasting Leaders Guide
Special Considerations for the Spiritual Practices Episodes
- Spiritual disciplines are means of grace; that is, they are ways to
help us be active and intentional in our relationship with God, now
alive to Him by grace. They help us withdraw from relying on ourselves
and engage in dependence on God. Although the understanding of
spiritual disciplines is growing, some members of your group may be
fearful or suspicious of the language of spiritual disciplines, fearful
that they may become ends in themselves and become a form of works
righteousness. If this is the case, emphasize that these practices have
no value in themselves, only as they help us actively love God and love
our neighbors as ourselves.
- The theme of this DVD is experiencing God in the everyday. These
spiritual practices only have meaning if they help us interact with God
in our daily lives, and make us more aware of how our daily activities
affect our relationship with God. We are conditioned to think that many
of our daily activities are “secular,” having nothing to do with God.
Help your group to reflect on how their daily activities (sleeping,
commuting, shopping, eating, working, etc.) actually do have an
influence on their relationship with God.
- Suggest the following exercise to your group. At the end of the
discussion of the first episode, have each member of the group pick a
spiritual practice (ideally a new one they currently are not doing) to
implement for the remainder of the time you will be discussing this
DVD. In the last two meetings, have each one share their experience
with the practice; struggles with doing it, things they learned about
themselves, and how God used it in their life. Below are some of the
Disciplines of Withdrawal
Keeping a Sabbath
Disciplines of Engagement
Study (Spiritual Reading)
Join the Conversation
Record thoughts and questions here that come up as you watch the
episode. Explore them later with the group.
to God’s Word: John 15:1-7, Mark 2:23-28, Matthew 6:16-18
Discuss the Episode
- Lauren and Don discuss the idea that prayer is more than talking
with God; it is entering into and participating in God’s life. Have you
ever thought of prayer that way? Read Colossians 4:2. How can this
Scripture guide us in bringing prayer into our daily activities?
- Sabbath-keeping is a way of honoring the pattern of work and rest
that God established in Creation. Practically speaking, Lauren described
it as “resting with God.” She mentioned two components; 1) not working,
and 2) doing joyful things, such as worship, meals with friends, naps,
and walks in the outdoors. How and when do you rest with God?
- Lauren believes that of the spiritual practices most often mentioned
in Scripture, fasting is the least practiced in contemporary
Christianity. Why might that be so? Have you fasted or considered
fasting? What has your experience been or what concerns do you have?
- Fasting is most commonly from food, but Lauren mentioned that she
also has fasted from books and technology. What things in your daily
life might distort your relationship with God? What would a fast from
these things look like?
Reflect on What Others Have to Say
Underline and mark ideas you would like to discuss.
prayer is our response to the God who speaks to us. God’s word is
always first. He gets the first word in, always. We answer. We come
to consciousness in a world addressed by God. We need to learn to
answer, really answer—not merely say Yessir, Nosir—our whole beings in
Eugene Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant: An
Exploration in Vocational Holiness
we keep a Sabbath holy, we are practicing, for a day, the freedom that
God intends for all people. We are practicing life outside the frantic
pace set by financial markets and round-the-clock shopping and
entertainment venues. We are practicing independence from the forces of
injustice. We are trying on a new way of life as we begin to allow our
weeks to be changed in response to God’s promises. We are
practicing—pun intended. Like a novice learning to play a musical
instrument, we may be off-key at times. It may be years before we are
in harmony, and we will never get it perfect.
Bass, Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for
Opening the Gift of Time
fasting, we abstain in some significant way from food and possibly from
drink as well. This discipline teaches us a lot about ourselves very
quickly. It will certainly prove humiliating to us, as it reveals to us
how much our peace depends upon the pleasures of eating. It may also
bring to mind how we are using food pleasure to assuage the discomforts
caused in our bodies by faithless and unwise living and attitudes—lack
of self-worth, meaningless work, purposeless existence, or lack of rest
and exercise. If nothing else, though, it will certainly demonstrate
how powerful and clever our body is in getting its own way against our
Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God