The practices that matter the most:
Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.
- Edward Abbey
I ended the last chapter with this statement of focus for the rest of this book -
This book will be about how we drink deeply from the living water. How that is our source and center. How the living water is what grounds us, nurtures us, and supplies us with living streams that flow out from us. How we drink, how we satisfy our deepest thirsts, that is what I am going to attempt to write about and offer some practices that can help you as you live in the fallout.
So let’s first talk about what a practice is. Practice is not a new word to us. We practice lots of things: sports, games, writing, and all kinds of things. We do this so that we get better at it, right? So practice brings to mind that we don’t have to have mastered a certain thing to actually practice it.
Practice also means that there is a particular event or moment or space we creat to practice. This is helpful. There is space we must create connect with the living water. If that space is not created to do a practice that helps us connect with God, then we are leaving connecting and drinking from the living water to chance. It would be like hoping that as you go through you day, that sometime, some random person pours you a glass of water and hands it you. Instead of saying, I am drinking a glass of water before I leave the house.
Practices also are to be be participated in. I like this language because it reminds me that I am need to show up and be attentive during this time. I must participate. Showing up is 50 percent of it, but participating is the other 50 percent. When we participate with God it means that we are allowing him to shape and mold us. To make us and break us. To lead and guide us. It means when he reveals something we obey it make a course correction. This is what it means to participate in practices.
Alright, let’s talk about the 7 practices I would suggest so that you are grounded and drinking deep from the Living water:
1. Pray daily — in all times, in all places, in all ways
2. Listen to God’s Word(s) daily
3. Give of what has been given to you - your time, treasure, & talents
4. Act with authentic care to and with those with the least
5. Gather for worship and celebration consistently and with
6. Connect in homes around tables with food and for friendship
7. Journey together with others you deeply know and by whom you are deeply known.
The 7 practices are all interlocking circles, formed around this center circle of the journey. Our lives when they are working and working well are when we have a close group of friends that we share life and all its experiences at a deep level with. The other practices weave in and out of this journey.
Full disclosure: I developed this a few years back when thinking about how best to describe what we need to invest our time as a church. These 7 practices represent the essentials of a learner-guide of Jesus.
The image above should help us see how these are tied together and flow one into another. It is worth noting that going to church (gather) is not in the center. The goal is to journey through life with others.
*Worth noting that but not for sure it is needed
Prayer, listening (self disciplines) are about connecting with God, shared with others
Act and Give (obedience) that for God for the sake of others
Connect, Gather and journey (relationships): for the sake of connecting with others and with God