Starting Spiritual Disciplines

We are living in unprecedented times with the pandemic shutting down much of our daily lives. There are, of course, some for whom this is an enormously busy time – especially the emergency services and NHS. For others life has slowed right down. Shut at home and with little outside contact.

For those in lockdown, now is the time that we can start to do something that can start to transform our Spiritual lives. The normal busyness of life and where to start stops many from practising what are collectively called Spiritual Disciplines. How do we form practises that will help us grow Spiritually and deepen our understanding and faith.

Taking our first steps can be daunting and bewildering, especially for those who have never practised these before and this is aimed at those who would like some guidance on how to start. One of the key things to note is that different people need to do things in different ways. Some people like the framework of liturgy, some like the support of notes and some just want to read and reflect prayerfully. In addition there is the question as to whether you are doing this on your own or with others – a friend, a partner, a family.

Before getting into the “what do I do” lets think about where and when.

Finding the right time and place

There is no overall right time, there is only the time that you can do and that works for you (each person has a different cycle as to when they are most alive). Some ideas (but remember to look at your own rhythm and see what works for you

  • First thing in the morning. You could make a cup of tea or coffee and take time to start the day
  • Find a natural break in the day. Maybe at a natural mid morning time or at lunchtime
  • Early evening. If you have been doing some things in the day then an early evening might work for you
  • As you go to bed. Some people find that this works for them as they are relaxing

If after a few days it doesn’t quite work then review the time and see if you need to make changes. Sometimes a small change can make a big difference.

Who are you doing it with

Some people will be wanting to do this on their own, others will be doing it with others in their house. Who you do it with alters what you do. For example:

  • If you do it on your own then you are likely to want to find a place where you don’t want to be disturbed. This might mean using a bedroom or a place where people know to give you space. There is a famous story of Susanna Wesley (the mother of the famous preacher John Wesley) who had a large family and told her children not to interrupt as she prayed with an apron over her head!
  • You may have others in your household who would like to join you. Agree a time and a place that works best for everyone. Compromises may need to be made! if someone is working from home then it may need to have some flexibility
  • If you have a young children then you are likely to have to often have times of chaos when you do this together. It is more important that the children see you take it an important part of the routine of your life rather than it is quiet and reverential!

What should I/we do??

There are lots of resources on the Internet that you can search down. These are just a very few ways of getting you started.

If you like structure and a liturgical way of praying together or on your own then there is the Church of England’s Daily Office. The daily office is the standard way to read the scriptures and pray that is used by thousands of people. It has as part of it, daily scripture readings from the Old and New Testaments, prayers and time to reflect.To access this online you can either use the Church of England Website or download the Daily Prayer App from your smartphone’s app store for free

Holy Trinity Brompton have produced a very popular Bible app that aims to help you read the Bible in a year and has commentary against each of the readings. You can access it via their website where you can also subscribe to their daily emails. Again they have an app that you can download from your smartphone’s app store for free

If you have young children then think about how you might include some singing and create a structure that would help them to engage. It could include some drawing or banging pans to music. Depending on the age of the children you could try having children finish a sentence “Thank you God for….” or “Please help…..” There are whole load of resources for young families and some good examples that occur that you can join in with. The Diocese has put up a lot of resources on a separate page on the website.

A call to action

It would be great to hear what you have found works and what else you can suggest that has helped you to start to pray and grow in your faith. Do let us know and feedback so we can help each other to grow in our faith and journey with Christ.

Published by

Will Cookson

Dean of Fresh Expressions in Diocese of Southwark. Interested in faith, culture, new ways of being church. Married to lovely Angie. 4 fab daughters.

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