Listenings: Spiritual Formation is….

The second chapter begins with a powerful statement by Nouwen regarding the nature of spiritual formation.  I want to use it as the focus for today’s post….

Spiritual formation is a call to discipleship, a call to follow Jesus radically and so become his true brothers and sisters—sons and daughters of God.  When we belong to Jesus, we belong with him to his heavenly Father, and to each other.  Having found our true home in God, we then can live in the world without becoming subject to its obsessions, compulsions, and addictions  (p. 18).

With these words laid down firmly, Nouwen moves to the second “early” movement in spiritual formation:  the movement from illusion to prayer.

The illusion can be variously described, but summed up it is the incessant call by the fallen world to live without boundaries—and thus become the victims hearing and seeing less and less, becoming spiritually sick, and finding ourselves in the end as one-dimensional people—perhaps even delusional.

Nouwen believes the only remedy for this is “keeping our hearts and minds solidly anchored in God” (p. 18), which is his way of saying, anchored in prayer.  In making this statement, Nouwen stands with all the saints of the ages in maintaining that prayer is the chief means of grace, the primary spiritual discipline—precisely because prayer is the way we establish and maintain our relationship with God.

We will turn our attention to prayer in the coming weeks.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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