Prayer must be the primary conversation in our lives. The apostle Paul told the Thessalonians—and Christians today—to be totally open at all times to God's grace: "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess. 5:17-19).
A spiritually mature person can guide you through patterns and practices of prayer to help deepen and broaden your walk with God. This person can be a spiritual companion, a "soul friend" who listens and helps interpret prayer, or a spiritual director who has more authority. Becoming part of a prayer group (overseen by a mature Christian) also can be a way to practice the prayer disciplines.
Community Accountability. Ultimately, spiritual formation is not about our personal growth in Christ. Rather, it is about growing in faith in the community of believers. Having a companion or director is the start of accountability in the discipline of prayer and growth in Christ. The fruit of spiritual formation is the discovery and use of spiritual gifts that will allow us to participate more fully in the total ministry of the church. Through spiritual formation, we become dynamic disciples who will impact a world in need of Christ.
John R. Throop is priest-in-charge at Trinity Episcopal Church, Portsmouth, Virginia.
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