Saturday, February 24, 2018

Spiritual Formation & Transformation: My Method

Image result for john piippo formation
Michigan beach, on Lake Michigan

(My two books are:

I'm now working on:

How God Changes the Human Heart.

Technology and Spiritual Formation.)

When I teach spiritual formation and transformation to seminary students, pastors, and churches, this is my method.

1. Assumption: God is the agent of personal/spiritual transformation.

2. Point People to God's Presence: Lecturing to people or assigning books to read won't transform the human heart. But God can. Therefore: I assign people to pray. I can point people to the presence of the One who does the transforming. 

3. Share With Others What God Is Doing In You: Transformation has a corporate dimension. This is realized as we return from our solitary prayer times with God and share with others what God has spoken to us. Here we arrive at the center of biblical koinonia ("fellowship") which is, literally, sharing what we have in common; viz., Christ in me, the hope of glory.

The method God has given me to do this is:

Give people Psalm 23 and send them out to pray for an hour. Or sometimes I send them out to pray for 30 minutes. For pastors I use 60 minutes; for non-pastors I use 30 minutes.

Here's the paper I give them. I read the instructions aloud. 

I use this document when teaching seminary classes and doing spiritual formation retreats for churches.

WARNING: If you are a pastor who wants to do this kind of thing with your people you must be engaging in it yourself. 

Dr. John Piippo

  1. The purpose of this exercise is to enter into the presence of God for the sake of deepening your relationship with God alone. My assumption is that you need God. You need to spend much time in God’s presence. And that time is to be spent in a certain way.
  2. Find a “lonely place apart.” When you get to that place, spend 60 minutes with God.
  3. Take with you only Psalm 23 and your journal. You may also take a Bible with you. But I want you to use Psalm 23 as your focus of meditation.
  4. Leave any cell phones, computers, books, shopping lists, and xerox machines behind. They will be waiting for you when you return from this time.
  5. Use Psalm 23 for meditation.
  6. Your purpose is not to exegete Psalm 23, but to be yourself exegeted by the Holy Spirit.
  7. When God speaks to you, write it down in your spiritual journal. A spiritual journal is a record of the voice of God to you.
  8. If your mind wanders, you may wish to write down where it wanders to. Your wandering mind is a barometer of your true spiritual condition. Your mind will never wander arbitrarily, but always to something like a burden or a hope.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.
 1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
       he leads me beside quiet waters,

 3 he restores my soul.
       He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
       I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
       your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

 5 You prepare a table before me
       in the presence of my enemies.
       You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
       all the days of my life,
       and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.