St Johns East Malvern

Spirituality

An Introduction to Christian Spirituality

Finding communion with God in community with others is at the heart of Christian life and practice. Christian spirituality avoids escapism and is never singularly focused. The practice of Christian spirituality is intentionally related to discovering the God and Father of all in all.

Often though when we try to find communion with God, our words quickly come up short. Yet in the depths of our being, the Spirit of God is urging us towards greater communion with others and with Him.

God never stops trying to communicate with us. The voice of God is often heard only in a whisper, in a breath of silence. Remaining in silence, in God’s presence, open to His Spirit, is already a prayer.

The road to communion with God is not a path of forced piety or practiced techniques, in order to achieve inner silence or create a kind of emptiness within. Instead, if we let Christ pray silently within us, then one day we will discover that the depths of who we are is inhabited by a presence – the Spirit of the God who loves us.

At times, therefore, prayer becomes silent. Peaceful communion with God can do without words. “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother.” Like the satisfied child who has stopped crying and is in its mother’s arms, so can “my soul be with me” in the presence of God. Prayer then needs no words, maybe not even thoughts.

How is it possible to reach this place? Calming our souls and finding inner silence requires a kind of simplicity. Silence means recognising that my worries can’t do much. Silence means leaving to God what is beyond my reach and capacity. A moment of silence is like a holy vacation – a sabbatical rest – a truce of worries.

The turmoil of our thoughts can be compared to the storm that struck the disciples’ boat on the Sea of Galilee while Jesus was sleeping. Like them, we may be helpless, full of anxiety, and incapable of calming ourselves. But it is in these moments that Christ comes to our help. As he rebuked the wind and made the troubled waters calm, he can quiet our heart and still our fears and worries – if we let Him.

In the words of the Psalmist, ‘Silence is praise to you, O God’. When words and thoughts come to an end, God is praised in silent wonder and admiration.

These two approaches will help you focus on your inner life and God’s presence with you.

Sit down. Sit still and upright.

Gently close your eyes. Sit relaxed but alert.

Breathe calmly and regularly.

Silently, interiorly, begin to say a single word, for example:

‘Jesus’ or ‘Ma-ra-na-tha’.

Maranatha means ‘Come, Lord’ in Aramaic and is one of the earliest Christian prayers

Listen to this word as you say it, gently, with love and continuously.

Do not think or imagine anything – spiritual or otherwise.

If thoughts or images come, simply return and say this word.

Light a candle.

become conscious of where we are…

the space you’re in… the place you are sitting…

feel the pressure of your back or your body upon the seat…

feel the carpet beneath you… your feet in your shoes…

Now become conscious of your breathing…

follow each breath.

Breathe deep.

Feel the air flow through your body like a blessing…

Draw in that air that connects you with each other and all creation…

Now focus on what is going on in your feelings…

allow yourself to feel it all,… and let go…

Now focus on your mind…

any particular thoughts that may be occupying you…

go to them… then let go…

Candles