Spiritual Formation is occurring in every person all the time. We can participate in our formation by intentionally engaging in activities (disciplines) that will help us grow closer to God and develop more into who He created us to be. Since we are each unique, our spiritiual growth will look different than anyone else's. Here at Hillside we want to support you in understanding how you are uniquely wired and provide opportunities for growth based on your specific needs. It is my hope that here you will find many different ideas and or paths that will enliven and enrich your spiritual growth. Click on the blue title on each blog below for the full posts.
Praying without ceasing - this is one of those commands that has always seemed impossible to me. I have a hard enough time remembering to pray occasionally. Also, I’ve been taught there is a specific format for prayer. Aren’t I supposed to acknowledge God, confess my sins, give thanks and ask for help? The prayer requests alone could take hours. This type of prayer has been incredibly helpful to me and I find great value in connecting with God this way. However, I can get bogged down by my expectations that prayer should always look a certain way and forget that at it’s core, it’s communicating with God. As with all communication, it is at it’s best when it is a two way communication. On those times (which are less frequent than I’d like to admit) when I sit down to pray, by the time I’ve thanked God for who He is and what He’s done, gone through the lengthy list of ways I’ve blown it and then begun to work through the endless list of needs, I’m often out of time or asleep and there wasn’t a chance for God to get a word in.
Over time I’ve begun to understand there are many different ways to pray and my prayer life has been richly expanded. One valuable tool I’ve come to know is the breath prayer. Unlike lengthy lists that always feel incomplete, the breath prayer is so short it is said in one breath. It is a prayer you can carry with you in any situation.
When I first discovered the breath prayer the words I chose to use were, “Lord I am yours, Use me.” In every moment I need to be reminded that I am not my own being, God created me, I’m His. I need to live each moment in this reality, and then I need to act, to do, based on this reality. Use me Lord - put your power behind each act, each step I take. Use me, use my life to do Your will. When I am in the car, when I am feeling anxious, in that moment between hearing what someone else says and choosing what words I can speak, I can say this prayer. When my mind won’t be quiet I can meditate on these words to calm myself to get to a place where I can hear God speak. Eventually I find myself in a place were this becomes automatic, the words show up in my head without prompting. It’s then that I find myself praying without ceasing. My posture becomes one of listening rather than asking
The words of my breath prayer have changed over the years. Last year I was at a retreat where I saw a great example of clay on a potters wheel and learned that the job of the clay is not to turn itself into a pot but rather to be still and allow the potter to do his work to help the clay become what it was to be. I realized then I was skipping a step in my prayer. If I was truly God’s, I needed to allow Him to shape who I am before I could be used to the best of my ability. Since that time my breath prayer has been “Lord I am your’s, mold me.” Simple words with big meaning that, when I allow them to be at the forefront of my thoughts, help me to turn to God in everything I do. They remind me to be still and let God be God.
I am unique. God created me and He loves me, just as I am. I know this to be true. I am thankful for a God who is big enough to make each being’s design distinct, and for a God who loves me so much that He knows every minute detail of my being. Knowing this has caused me to become passionate about helping people understand how they are wired in order to break free of prescribed assumptions of how to connect with God. It is easy for me to compare my relationship with my creator to everyone around me and decide that if I’m going to be a good Christian I must pray as much as so and so, study the word as long as this author says, write in my journal such and such amount of times. These assumptions have been stumbling blocks in my walk with God... Click on the blue title to continue.