Find a quiet place, put your earphones in, and pull out a pen and paper. Ensure you won’t be interrupted or distracted for the next few moments.
Take a few deep breaths before beginning, and allow your body to be at ease. Recognize that the Lord is with you. Give thanks that he is near.
At times like these, in the midst of a blizzard of uncertainty and confusion, we can feel tossed around by factors beyond our control. We can doubt whether God is with us, as news items and the ever-changing landscape and climate of COVID-19 inundate our day, disorient our minds, overwhelm our hearts, take over our schedules, and disrupt our lives.
Hear the Lord’s invitation to move at the pace of his grace, and to follow his lead to live in the rhythms of his grace daily and weekly.
Pause to wonder about the desires he’s placed within you during this season as you listen to the desires expressed in song by United Pursuit.
Read the following passage slowly. Let the words wash over you as you lean in to hear Jesus speak. If appropriate, read it out loud, or have someone read it to you.
Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Sit with the passage for a moment before moving on. Allow the Holy Spirit to draw your attention to words or phrases.
Here are a few reflection questions to ask yourself slowly and prayerfully, letting the Holy Spirit lead you to answer honestly. Don’t rush to the next question before truly pondering the first. Take the time to think on each question and perhaps even slow down enough to write the answers in a journal.
- What draws you to God? When do you feel closest to God? Are there any particular experiences, practices and relationships that help you enter into an awareness of his love for you?
- What is most important to you? Who do you want to become? What desires has he placed in your heart to pursue in this time?
- What limitations does he ask you to embrace in this season?
- What are your God-given responsibilities that you have stewardship over right now?
- Where is your life out of control and not centred in Christ?
- What are you sensing as God’s invitation to you toward transformation that you want to make space for at this time?
In light of your reflections from the questions above, ask the Spirit to lead you to create some rhythms that help you to love God and others, honour your desires and limits, and are based on your individual needs and the way you uniquely draw close to God’s heart.
As Adele Calhoun writes,
“The Holy Spirit knows the spiritual practices, relationships and experiences that best suit our unique communion with God. He knows how to help us move into the “unforced rhythms of grace” that Jesus offers to teach us. Spiritual transformation, “recovering your life,” comes from partnering with the Trinity for change. That doesn’t mean we give the Holy Spirit an agenda or a demand. We simply desire. We bring our ache for change, our longing for belonging, our desperation to make a difference. Then we keep company with Jesus by making space for him through a spiritual discipline. Our part is to offer ourselves lovingly and obediently to God. God then works within us doing what he alone can do. Our desires don’t obligate the Holy One. God is free to come to us in spiritual disciplines as he wills, not as we demand. But unless we open ourselves to him through spiritual practices, we will miss his coming altogether.”
- Choose a spiritual discipline* that you would like to include in your day to try out for a week (or a month), that orients you to God and that suits your limits and the realities of your life.
- Determine a limit that you need to set on something that draws you away from God (and need to protect yourself from).
- Decide on a way you can share your life with others in this unique season.
- Pick an activity that will help you steward your body.
*See appendix below for examples of spiritual disciplines and spiritual rhythms.
You may need more time with the reflection questions, and to discern what rhythms you want to commit to in the four aspects of your daily or weekly rhythm. Feel free to come back to this exercise again.
A final word from Adele Calhoun about spiritual rhythms:
“Don’t be afraid to experiment with a rhythm; it can easily be changed and revised, but should not be subject to whims. Allow yourself to settle into a rhythm so it has time to shape your life. Ultimately a rhythm will help you love God more. If it becomes a legalistic way of earning points with God, it should be scrapped.”
Read through the passage in Matthew 11: 28-30 again. Pay attention to how it lands on you this time. Has something changed? Was something reinforced?
- Examples of inward, outward and corporate spiritual disciplines from Richard Foster
- Examples of spiritual disciplines of engagement and abstinence
Examples of Spiritual Rhythms:
1. John Mark Comer: Bridgetown Church’s suggested Rule of Life, or Rhythms of the Day
2. Justin W. Earley: Spiritual Rhythms for Quarantine
Written by the Spiritual Care and Development Team.