An NCT of my Spiritual Life

Earlier this year my car needed an NCT. I don’t drive it much but for the six months before there had been an orange light which in my mind meant lots of money. NCT’s are vital to ensure safety on the roads and to keep emissions within acceptable limits. But I also knew it might cost me a great deal.
I had these questions running through my head…

What will it reveal?

What work will need to be done?

Occasionally I think about taking an NCT of my spiritual life. But the same questions arise: 

 What will it reveal?

What work will need to be done?

I know it will do me good but …

Thinking about prayer life, Bible reading, and spiritual disciplines, never mind fasting, silence, solitude and I begin to get a bit nervous. Perhaps even shades of inadequacy and guilt even arrive, uninvited.

Jesus talks about when we …

Pray

Fast

Give

Some of the basics of a healthy spiritual life are part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus does not say “if we pray” there is an implicit imperative of “When …”. But we can adapt how we do these things to our lifestyle. 

As we go through life we enter different seasons, I was reminded by a really good friend recently, how for her a friendship can be for a season but then she lets the person go. For me, I go through seasons but the people I pray for do not diminish but increase in time, i.e. My friends list increases.

For each of our seasons we have to find a rhythm that works for us and engages us in meaningful spiritual practices. For me there is no point aiming for some really high church value, I am not going to engage for long and I am not going to sustain any commitment. For another person, a daily prayer offered by the C of I may be the right springboard. So the rhythm that I choose has to be authentic to who I am. 

Secondly it has to be releasing and life giving. Many times in my life I have started something that appeared to give energy but within a few days drained and depleted me. It has to have relevance to my life so although I tap into resources created by Ignatius, Benedict and Lawrence I skew them to fit into my life. Some of these real spiritual guys got up at 3 and 4 just to fit in their daily spiritual discipline. I am never going to do that, but I find 5 in the summer and 6 in the winter appropriate for me.

At that time in the morning it is all about prayer, on my knees or lying face down on the floor (insert holy word for this that I don’t know) I might read one verse of scripture to help me or a phrase. I pray about my day, about people, situations, and most of all I talk to God about him. I guess the psalmist would know the word for it. Sometimes it can get a bit lamenty and the possibility of a pity party ensues but because I guess I am on my knees I remember who it is all about and it is not about me. 

I read my Bible as I eat breakfast. Two new routines for this year and tied together, at least for five of the days. I don’t rush this time, my porridge won’t allow it. It would burn my lips. So I read slowly, meditatively whilst slowly eating spoon after spoon. The rhythm of reading, eating and breathing working together for my good.
There are many practices out there regarding spiritual disciplines, a new way each time I look at the shiny new books. The disciplines have not changed, but how we apply them, make time for them, dare I suggest prioritise them in our lives. 
One of my favourite misspellings is practice or practise. I love the fact that when writing these words within the realm of spiritual disciplines it can be very telling of where we are at within this sphere…

I practise spiritual discipline continuously, all day every day. I am not a “holy joe,” it just feels right to spend as much time as possible in God’s rhythm. My practice is all about the spiritual disciplines. So I am noun and verb into the spiritual disciplines.

There are a number of ways in which this way of life has impacted my daily comings and goings. Amazingly my new transportation device has had the biggest impression and I find myself faffing all day long.

Faffing is probably the wrong word, as it is an intentional living. But I am sure from the outside it looks like faffing. For example admin jobs that should only take ten or so minutes seem to take hours as I pray for each individual and situation. 

There are areas, as there always are that need improvement. I could fast more effectively, for sure. I could be more intentional in my giving, and do more with less.

It would have been easy for me to ignore the orange light, put off the NCT and carried motoring on. But I think it was necessary for the car and for me.

What will it reveal?

What work needs to be done?

All the distractions in the world need to be pushed aside, a quiet place found and an opening up of my heart to the rhythm of God to point out where the orange light is and where perhaps there is a red light. It will reveal where I could do better and it will be useful to me as I journey on. 

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