Having a range of spiritual exercises for the different stages of the learning cycle can help energise our discipleship journey.
Exercises for reflection:
Reflection underpins all learning. As Socrates observed, ‘An unexamined life is not worth living’.
Prayer of Examen
This is an exercise whereby we review the day with God, ask for his perspective on it, and seek to discern his hand at work. We ask God to search us, to show us what was in line with his priorities and where we have taken a wrong route or shown an ungodly attitude.
Confession is both a gift and a discipline. Unless God gives grace, no genuine confession can be made. Yet we have a part to play. As we become aware of ungodly patterns we are to confess them to God and, where helpful, to others we trust. In confessing our failures and shortcomings to others we invite their support in changing, and also protect ourselves from living lives plagued by hypocrisy.
This is a way of recording our journey with God and our reactions to other people or situations. Richard Peace in Spiritual Journaling explains the benefits of this exercise as a way of helping ‘us pay attention to God. It is a way of hearing and responding to God. Journaling helps us understand our unfolding story. Knowing our story helps us to see what God has been doing in the past, is doing now, and is calling us to do in the future’. It is a helpful way of charting the development of our character in the context of our working relationships.
Exercises for study:
Study involves the application of our minds to the acquisition of knowledge, as by reading, research, or reflection. Our study might be of the Bible or of anything that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8) such as nature.
Studying the Bible
Commentaries and daily study notes can help us do this.
Using the Bible and other devotional literature to explore godly wisdom on a particular subject e.g. the use of our time or other resources.
Gaining wisdom and understanding through the teaching of Christians who are spiritually mature.
Exploring a subject through discussion with others, and allowing their questions or approach to challenge our thinking.