Spirituality and Prayer
Spirituality is part of all faith traditions. Here are some Christian defintitions:
- For John Bell "spirituality is the oil which fuels the machinery by which we relate to God, to God's world and to God's people."
- For Kathy Galloway, spirituality is "that which ultimately moves you - the fundamental motivation of your life."
- For Alister McGrath, "Spirituality ... arises from a creative and dynamic synthesis of faith and life, forged in the crucible of the desire to live out the Christian faith authentically, responsibly, effectively, and fully."
- For Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, "Spirituality must now touch every area of human experience, the public and the social, the painful, negative, even pathological byways of the mind, the moral and relational world."
- For Philip Sheldrake, "spirituality is the core, centre and axle on which the wheel of theology runs."
Spiritual Direction / Companionship
If you are interested in finding someone to meet for spiritual direction/companionship, contact Revd Graham Green, Prayer and Christian Spirituality Officer tel: 01928 722151, email: email@example.com
Might God be calling you to the
A newly revised course in Spiritual Accompaniment, for both clergy and lay people, will commence in September 2015 and continue until the summer of 2016. Training days will be approximately once a month, on a Monday. If you are interested, please contact the Prayer and Christian Spirituality Officer, Reverend Graham Green, for further details.
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01928 722151
Deadline for applications is 31 March 2015
Jesus promised his followers the Holy Spirit as a life-giving and love-giving gift. This gift (and continuous giving) is the basis of our spiritual direction. Licensed ministers support (and are supported in) the discovery and celebration of spiritual direction. This support usually comes through the practice of local churches, including their shared prayer, teaching, preaching and liturgy. Local ministers are able to offer spiritual direction, and their details are usually available on parish websites and noticeboards.
Besides support from local ministers, many people also find a one-to-one relationship with a spiritual director helpful in developing their spiritual direction. Spiritual directors are also referred to as "soul friends" and "spiritual companions."
The Diocese has a list of trained spiritual directors which is available on request from the diocesan Prayer and Spirituality Officer, Revd Graham Green.
Here is how one person describes her experience of spiritual direction.
Prayer is an essential part of Christian discipleship. There are as many ways of prayer as there are people. From the disciples’ first asking Jesus about prayer so many methods and patterns of prayer have developed as people have explored their personal relationship with God. Prayer has ranged from contemplative to charismatic, and has used silence, art, study, movement and pilgrimage. Spiritual direction involves developing ways of prayer which can be as simple as the way of prayer taught by Jesus in the “Our Father”, and as regular as the prayer for morning, evening and night derived from the monastic tradition. Saint Teresa of Avila defined prayer as "spending time with a friend whom we know loves us."
Being still before God is not an easy thing to do, after all so many things fill our minds, but it is a kind of prayer which is worth attempting. The text ‘Be still and know that I am God’ from psalm 46 is well known but the original Hebrew is slightly different ‘Empty yourself and know that I am God’. In my moments of quiet time in the early morning I try to think of coming to God empty and being filled with His love. He is there waiting for us long before we go to pray.
In the silence there are little nuggets of wisdom that come to mind that the saints have passed onto us. ‘ We don’t find God by trying to be more religious than we are or can be. We are near to God by being ourselves in sincerity and then God begins to fill our emptiness.’
We may come to God feeling unworthy but we need remember ‘to accept that we are accepted despite our unacceptability’.
‘In this is love’ said St John, ‘not that we love God but that he loves us.’ We may let go of God often in our lives but He never lets go of us.
Julian of Norwich has many wise things to say when it comes to drawing close to God. ‘So we ought to learn at least this much in life, that if only we trust in God then He can do great things with us, however inadequate others think we are or we may feel ourselves to be.’
It is sometimes the case that we find it difficult to give ourselves to God. I often think of this old prayer which Archbishop Michael Ramsey often prayed.
‘Lord take my heart from me, for I cannot give it to Thee.
Keep it for Thyself for I cannot keep it for Thee.
And save me in spite of myself’.
Yes, we don’t find God by being more religious than we are or pretending to be anything other than our true selves. We are near to God by being sincere and then God begins to fill the emptiness.
‘ Be still and know that I am God’.
Retreats are for ordinary people at any time in their lives. There are no expectations on anyone going on retreat and you don't need to be a churchgoer.
Retreats offer the opportunity to step aside from life to rest and just 'be' in a welcoming, peaceful place. They can be a real treat, giving time for prayer, reflection and recovery. Jesus gave himself times of retreat and prayer away from others. Retreats are part of the Sabbath provision.
Anyone can go on retreat. There are no expectations and retreatants aren’t all churchgoers. Some retreats are individually guided, taking place in the midst of daily life, like this one in Wilmslow, described by Revd Magdalen Smith, or a parish quiet day.
There are also many retreat houses throughout the country, including Foxhill near Frodsham, which has its own programme of retreats, as well as twin-bedded accommodation for those wanting to spend time away on their own. Retreat houses have a rich tradition of hospitality and welcome.
Parish clergy are happy to advise about retreats. There is further information about retreats at the Retreat Association website. Here’s a list of more local retreat houses (please email suggestions to add to this list).
Here are some links to sites exploring contemporary spirituality:
Blogs and websites that may be worth following as resources for spirituality. Here is a sample:
- http://www.moot.uk.net/blog/ - this is the website of a new monastic community authorized by the Diocese of London in which Ian Mobsby is involved.
- http://www.thestillpoint.org.uk - StillPoint is a project based in the Diocese of Oxford which aims to deepen spiritual practice. It is resolutely focused on practice rather than study and is therefore seeking to be experientially based rather than academic.
- http://www.home-online.org/blog - Home calls itself “a progressive, all-age, Christian community of spiritual seekers sharing spiritual practices in the city of Oxford, UK.”
- http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/jonnybaker/grace/ - Jonny Baker’s blog is full of grace – and ideas for prayer and liturgy
- Jan Richardson is a writer and artist who is based in Florida. She has three helpful blogs: http://paintedprayerbook.com/ , http://sanctuaryofwomen.com/blog/ and http://theadventdoor.com/
- http://bequietforachange.blogspot.com/ - is designed for “personal transformation through meditation”, and is written by Kelvin Wright, Bishop of Dunedin, New Zealand.
- http://www.renovarelife.org/ - The Renovaré approach to spiritual formation draws on six traditions or streams rooted in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. We practice these streams through spiritual disciplines and exercises that help to mature us in our life and faith.
The Bible Society has developed an online resource for small group conversation on the Renovare approach to spiritual formation that draws on six traditions rooted in the life and teaching of Jesus
Cursillo is a method for supporting and encouraging spiritual confidence as we seek to live and work to God’s praise and Glory Small groups meet regularly for inspiration, sharing successes and problems in individual’s prayer, study and witness chestercursillo.org.uk