Spiritual Tools that Deepen My Friendship with Jesus

Spiritual Tools that Deepen My Friendship with Jesus

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I noticed today I was using a chef’s knife incorrectly. I shook my head because I’ve been trained how to use a knife. For twenty-six years with The Pampered Chef, I sold kitchen tools and taught others how to use them.

Something distracted me.  Unfocused on what I was doing, I regressed to my old ways. I held the chef’s knife like a dinner knife: hand on the handle, forefinger extended along the spine. With the hand in this position, furthest from the sharp edge that does the work, the knife is not very effective. There’s nothing wrong with the knife. The user is simply not working well with it. The knife resisted cutting through the food. I drew my attention back to the cutting board and readjusted my grip.

How to Hold a Kitchen Knife Properly

To hold a kitchen knife properly, put your thumb and forefinger on the blade and wrap the remaining three fingers around the handle. This can feel scary, at first, because our parents taught us as children that knives are sharp and we should not touch them. Putting our fingers directly on the blade seems to go against what our parents taught us for our safety. Yet when your thumb and forefinger grasp the blade, your mind knows–because of the touch, the tactile sense–where that blade is. When your hand holds a knife in this manner–-right over the bolster, the balance point of the knife–your accuracy increases and your effort decreases.

In a similar way, the spiritual life offers many tools to help us in our work here on earth. If we do not use them or use them without instruction, our efforts can feel tiresome and the tools, resistant. For example, we can say any memorized prayer like the Our Father, but if our hearts are not open, if our thoughts wander, if we pay little attention to the words, then the tool (the prayer in this case) works less effectively. Our grip on the tool needs readjusting. It’s too far away from the source of our strength: Jesus.

7 Spiritual Tools that Helped Me

the BibleIn addition to Bible study, seven prayer practices eased my spiritual journey over the years and deepened my relationship with God.

 Lectio Divina,

Contemplative Prayer,

Centering Prayer,

The Jesus Prayer,

The Welcoming Prayer,

The Practice of the Presence of God,

and Guard of the Heart.

 

Divine Reading (Lectio Divina)

I will touch on each one of these spiritual tools in the months ahead. Let’s start with Lectio Divina which literally means divine or sacred reading.  It is an ancient practice of praying the Scriptures according to contemplativeoutreach.org. During Lectio Divina, you listen to the text of the Bible with the “ear of the heart,” as if you are in conversation with God, and God is suggesting the topics for discussion. The method of Lectio Divina includes four steps of 1) reading, 2) reflecting on, 3) responding to, and 4) resting in the Word of God with the aim of nourishing and deepening one’s relationship with the Divine.

Photo Credit: Ben White

When I first studied the Bible, I read it quickly. Many words and circumstances did not make much sense to me, so I didn’t linger. My goal was to say I read the Bible. Sacred Reading is the opposite. This tool focuses you on what God is saying to you at this moment in time.

“As a prayer form it must be learned and practiced.”[Mary Margaret Funk, Humility Matters, p. 229].

  1. ASK the Lord for the grace to hear His word in your heart.
  2. READ the passage once.
  3. READ the passage a second time. Pause when a word or phrase attracts or moves you.
  4. REFLECT on the words or sentence or image that strikes you.  Let the Word of God take hold of you.

You might respond to it by writing it down or asking God to show you more about it, to teach you what He wants you to notice or learn. Then rest in the Word of God and listen in your heart for God’s reply. Carry this word or phrase with you all day long, contemplating on its meaning in your life.

When you hold this word or phrase tenderly, it responds like a knife held correctly above its bolster: it cuts easily to the heart of your relationship with God. I found this tool – Sacred Reading – to be almost effortless at deepening my union with God. All I needed to do was read the Word of God regularly… and slowly. For a Speedy Gonzalez like me, that was the crux, my cross. Read. Reflect. Respond. Listen. Slowly.

Spiritual Tools Help When the World Distracts Us

Oftentimes, the world distracts us. We lose our focus on God and regress to our old ways. When you regress and hold on to the things of this world, what things come up for you? Old angers? Money? Your desire for affection, control or security? Whatever it takes to keep these, right?

When our relationship with God loses priority, there’s nothing wrong with God. We simply are not working well with Him at the moment. We resist where He presses in to draw our attention. It feels a little scary and a little exciting when we start to feel close to Him.

That’s when spiritual tools come in handy. Try some and see which ones feel almost effortless or timely right now, like breathing. Some tools you’ve used before. All you need to do is readjust your grip.

Conduct yourself as worthy of the God who calls you into His kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:12

To learn more about Lectio Divina, click here.

About Chris Manion

The parable of the talents drives Chris Manion to keep sharing what God offers her. God’s joy and compassion shows in her award-winning memoir, God’s Patient Pursuit of My Soul which she wrote while rearing two children and running a home-based multi-million dollar business. She speaks about trusting God and how to hear His voice. She's a musician, loves to laugh and eat M&Ms, and teaches children of all ages. Visit her website for more info.

Comments

  1. Great post, and I’m looking forward to your next spiritual tool.
    I had forgotten about Lectio Divina. This may be a perfect practice for my son and his wife, who are looking for a simple means of drawing closer to God.

    • We all forget about these resources we have at our disposal. Oral tradition used to be the means to convey wisdom passed down from the elders. Blogs and social media replace that tradition, for the most part, these days. I am so very glad you’ll pass this along to your won and his wife, and that it reawakened your memory as well. Lectio divina can be a revitalizing activity for a couple. They can pray the passage together, or if their schedules are like my husband’s and mine-like two ships passing in the night- they may choose to read the passage and pray it separately, then that evening, share the word or phrase they carried with them that day. This “recap” of the day with their word or phrase will reinforce their spiritual senses’ consciousness of Christ working in their lives.

      Many thanks for taking the time to encourage me with your words.

      Chris

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