Monday, January 02, 2012

The Locus of Spiritual Formation

Cloud, in Monroe, Michigan
Three weeks from today I'll travel to Payne Theological Seminary to teach Payne seminary students my class on Spiritual Formation.

On Sunday evening, Jan. 29, I'll begin a 6-weeks-of-prayer experiment with my own church family.

At the heart of how God has directed me to teach spiritual formation is the practice of praying, and praying in a certain way (e.g., no multitasking allowed) and in a certain place (get alone with God, apart from home and work place). Note: by "praying" I mean actually praying, as opposed to talking about praying, reading books on praying, affirming the importance of praying, desiring to pray (but not actually praying - this is prayer as illusion), and telling others they need to pray.

Henri Nouwen is one of my spiritual coaches. One of my Christmas gifts was Nouwen's Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit. I've begun to read it, and read it slowly. Nouwen is a slow-cooker, not a microwave, as all authentic Jesus-spirituality is. Nouwen affirms my focus on the centrality of prayer. He writes:

"Prayer is standing in the presence of God with the mind in the heart—that is, in the point of our being where there are no divisions or distinctions and where we are totally one within ourselves, with God, and with others and the whole of creation. In the heart of God the Spirit dwells, and there the great encounter takes place. There, heart speaks to heart as we stand before the face of the Lord, ever present, all seeing, within us. And there, in the place of the heart, spiritual formation takes place." (K 158) 

If you're interested in joining me for six weeks of prayer that can last a lifetime, here's the information.

I have been teaching prayer, spiritual formation and transformation, and dweling in God’s presence for 35 years. I’ve developed my own materials and have been blessed to teach them in many environments, to include: seminaries, pastors retreats and conferences, churches, all over the world, and in our own Redeemer Ministry School.
As an experiment I want to offer and invite you to take my Spiritual Formation class in a 6-week course. Here are the details.

If you want to sign up please call the Redeemer office (734-242-5277) or e-mail me ( Persons who have studied this material with me may re-take it. Why not invite a friend to take it with you?

Attend two 3-hour classes.
1. Sunday evening, Jan. 29, 5-8 PM. An Introduction to Spiritual Formation.

2. Sunday evening, March 11, 5-8 PM. Sharing our experiences with one another; wrap-up.
Six weeks of prayer and journaling:
- Feb. 5 - March 18
- Pray one hour/day, 5 days/week
Read and reflect on my writings on spiritual formation and prayer. Needed: e-mail access – I will e-mail you the readings.
Needed: Commitment to fully engage in this experience.
Materials Needed:
- Bible
- Journal to write in
Cost: Free.
If you want to prepare in advance for this here are some books I recommend.
Boyd, Greg. Present Perfect: Finding God In the Now. (Zondervan: 2010) This is an excellent, clearly written little book that contains some deep spiritual insights that are not found in other spirituality texts. Greg’s meditation on “death” is worth the price of the book.
Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. The Practice of the Presence of God (Garden City: Image, 1977). A spiritual classic by a 17th-century monk that is still relevant today, and is especially good at knowing God in the everyday, mundane tasks of life.
Foster, Richard. A Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco: Harper and Row). The modern classic on the spiritual disciplines. If you have not yet read this it should be one of your choices.
Kelly, Thomas. A Testament Of Devotion (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1941). This brilliant, provocative little text makes my top ten ever-read books on Christian spirituality. A modern classic.
Merton, Thomas. Seeds (Shambala: 2002). A killer collection of Merton quotes. A tremendous introduction to the depth, wisdom, and discernment of Thomas Merton. Prophetic.
Nouwen, Henri. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (Harper and Row). A brilliant little book, among the best I have ever read on pastoral leadership.
Nouwen, Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit.
Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love (Image Books: 1999). I find it hard to express how much God used a slow, meditative reading of this book to effect changes in my life.
Nouwen. The Way of the Heart (New York: Ballantine, 1981). A beautiful, meditative little book on solitude, silence, and prayer.
Peterson, Eugene. The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (Dallas: Word, 1989). I have read this book two or three times. It always reminds me of my priorities in pastoral ministry.
Willard, Dallas. Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God (IVP: 1999)

For more information e-mail me at: