ONE A DAY (ISH)
The spiritual practices on this website are designed in a one (or more) a day style. I like to do the Prayer of Recollection daily (which is great for getting to know Jesus and increasing your awareness of him inside of you) plus one or more of the other practices. I highly recommend taking intentional breaks throughout the day to connect with Jesus. These breaks can be long or short or any blend of the two. During these breaks you can use these spiritual practices or anything else that helps you connect with Jesus and gives him space to transform you. Some of these practices integrate right into what you are doing in your daily life.
I originally designed these practices to be used in a retreat setting and then taken home to be assimilated into everyday life, but it’s not always easy to get away for a two-day retreat (especially these days when we can’t leave our homes). So I have brought these practices right to you in your home with step by step instructions for each one. If you would like to schedule a couple of blocked days to do in a private in-home retreat, that would be wonderful, but perhaps it is not realistic for some of us at this point. (Let me know if you would like to get information about future retreats as they become available.) One good addition to consistently connecting with Jesus is having regular times of extended (but not too long) solitude and silence at home. This is described in Solitude and Silence During Social Distancing.
In some ways the practices provided are like ordering a sampler platter of food while at a restaurant (remember when we used to do that?). You may want to try one of each, you may have special ones that you gravitate towards, or any combination of those. So as you are deciding which practices to use on a daily basis, here are some possiblities:
Use them in order: The practices are meant to both stand alone and also build on each other. One option is to just start at the top of the list and do one a day as you work your way through. When you are done, you may have favorites that you are inclined toward focusing on more exclusively, or you may want to go through the list again. You will notice that the practices on the website use Psalm 23 as the core scripture (inspired by Dallas Willard’s Life Without Lack). You are welcome to use a different scripture throughout the practices.
Pick and choose: You may want to just go where the spirit leads you, picking and choosing from the list of practices. Perhaps you will find some you want to settle on for daily practices or perhaps you will want to keep on the move.
Starting at the top and stick with practices for a while: If you are working your way through the list, you may prefer to camp out (figuratively—or perhaps literally!) with practices that are especially helpful for you. Let’s say you really like lectio divina, you may want to stay there and use that every day with your Bible reading for a while.
PLANNING FOR YOUR TIMES WITH JESUS
The practices range in duration from a couple of minutes to a half hour or more. Any one practice can vary tremendously in how much time you spend with it. On the more predictable side, you have a practice like the Prayer of Recollection, which is recommended for 30 minutes (plus a few minutes for journaling prayer afterward). But if your schedule doesn’t allow for that on a given day, you may only be able to do it for 10 or 15 minutes. In another example, the core of Palms Down, Palms Up could be done quickly during the flow of your regular day and may only take a couple of minutes, or maybe you can escape to your special prayer space (or even the bathroom) and take a slow meditative approach for 15-20 minutes. I mention these things to help you think about and imagine what the practices might look like in your own schedule. It’s important for us to find a balance that allows us to embrace the practices fully without worrying about time or trying to put ourselves on a schedule, while at the same time, realistically planning for what we can and will do. Arranging our lives to bring the practices into our days, both in focused times with Jesus and throughout the moments of our day is a big part of the section that is coming to this website soon, Spending Your Days with Jesus, which will explore two areas:
Meeting with Jesus throughout the day
Bringing Jesus into your regular moments
If you are curious about which practices lend themselves to being brought into your regular daily activities with only short pauses in what you are doing, as compared with practices that lend themselves more to focused time alone with Jesus, check out this list.
STRESS, PROBLEMS, AND CRISIS
Stress, resentment, crisis, and perpetual problems! In my own life, I have found a certain series of practices to be especially helpful for dealing with stressful situations, bitterness, crisis, and getting at the root of the problems that keep me stuck in my life. When you are in a difficult place or situation, you can set aside time to work through these; either all at once or one a day. You can also use them on a regular ongoing basis. Read more about this in the context of Solitude and Silence for Social Distancing practice. An optional, but great framework for these practices are two podcasts, Don’t Waste Your Crisis (Part I and Part II).
Here is the series: