Spiritual Practices Explained Leaders Guide

Special Considerations for the Spiritual Practices Episodes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 main disciplines:


Disciplines of Withdrawal

Solitude
Silence
Fasting
Keeping a Sabbath
Frugality
Sacrifice

Disciplines of Engagement

Study (Spiritual Reading)
Worship
Service
Prayer
Submission
Physical Exercise

 

Join the Conversation

Record thoughts and questions here that come up as you watch the episode.  Explore them later with the group.






 
Listen to God’s Word: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Discuss the Episode

  1. Spiritual practices are activities we engage in to help us experience God in our daily lives. Don and Lauren discussed some practices that are common among us, such as prayer, Bible study, fellowship, and corporate singing and worship. Describe specific benefits and struggles you have had with spiritual practices.
  2. Lauren says that the Gospel calls us to “live in our bodies well.” Most of us are aware that our sexual behavior affects our faith. Do you think our eating and exercise habits affect our relationship to God? If so, when are they beneficial? When are they harmful?
  3. Lauren states that we are to be disciples in everything we do, and that our daily activities influence our relationship with God. Do daily activities like shopping, commuting, or sleeping move you toward or away from God? How could these activities be done in such a way to experience God within them?
  4. What are your thoughts on spiritual practices? Are there practices you are doing or would like to try? How can communities encourage each other in spiritual practices?

Reflect on What Others Have to Say

Underline and mark ideas you would like to discuss.

Spiritual disciplines…are designed to help us be active and effective in the spiritual realm of our own heart, now spiritually alive by grace, in relation to God and his kingdom.  They are designed to help us withdraw from total dependence on the merely human or natural (and in that sense to mortify the “flesh,” kill it off, let it die) and to depend also on the ultimate reality, which is God and his kingdom.
Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God

Disciplines are intentional ways we open space in our lives for the worship of God.  They are not harsh but grace-filled ways of responding to the presence of Christ with our bodies.  Worship happens in our bodies, not just our heads….Offering our bodies to God lands us smack in the middle of our weakness and limits. We don’t have unlimited energy, time and personal resources. We are finite. We need to be realistic about what our body can do and sustain…Spiritual disciplines are ways we give our bodies to unhurried rhythms of grace. They are ways we unhurry our souls before God.
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us

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