One of the great books on spiritual disciplines is John Ortberg’s book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. You can read my review of the book by clicking here.
One of the spiritual disciplines he talks about in the book is the practice of “slowing.” Have you ever thought about “slowing” as a spiritual practice? One of his mentors told him that if he wanted to grow spiritually that he must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from his life. Listen to a great quote from his book:
Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can destroy our souls. Hurry can keep us from living well….Again and again, as we pursue spiritual life, we must do battle with hurry. For many of us the great danger is not that we renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.
Most of us battle the hurry sickness, but how can we treat it–how can we cure it? There are two main practices that can help us swim against our culture’s current of hurry.
1. Slowing. Slowing involves cultivating patience by deliberately choosing to place ourselves in positions where we simply have to wait. Slowing will seem like such a “waste of time,” but it is invaluable. Here are some examples. Deliberately drive in the slow lane. Chew your food slowly. Get in the longest check-out line at the grocery store. Go through an entire week without wearing a watch. Read each sentence slowly–then read it again even more slowly.
2. Solitude. Solitude is a more traditional spiritual practice. I’m not saying that we should take it to the extreme and join a monastery. I’m just saying that solitude is the one place where we can gain freedom from the forces of society that will otherwise relentlessly mold us. When we’re “alone” with God–He molds us!
We need some small measures of solitude every day. A walk, a short drive, working in the yard, sitting in the car before going into the office, a quiet time–all these serve as moments of solitude. On occasion, we need longer periods of solitude. Take an afternoon to yourself or even an entire day. Go to a place where you will be uninterrupted and alone. Spend the day relaxing, reading, walking, napping, etc.
Both of these practices have been vital to my spiritual growth and to my ability to hear from God. By the way, if you haven’t read John Ortberg’s book on spiritual disciplines, you must do so. Here’s a link to Amazon where you can purchase the book and get started. I wish I had read this book as a new Christian and learned about the practice of “slowing” and many of the other spiritual disciplines that have helped me to grow in recent years.