Posted by: whereintheworldismike | December 30, 2014

The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Formation, Pt 8

Now I will address specific areas of spiritual formation that touch on emotional and relational formation, and Christian ethical formation. All that has gone before provides a general foundation for effective spiritual formation and will be employed in the specific spiritual formation foci that follow.

Spiritual formation is always the purview of Jesus Christ himself. We get into trouble and make very little progress when we seek to grow in Christ’s image via techniques and methods devoid of submitted prayer that engages the active involvement of the Holy Spirit.

The interactive prayer introduced in some detail earlier is particularly effective to form emotional maturity and wholeness in a disciple. As sins are confessed, burdens released, and words of affirmation taken in from our loving Heavenly Father, we experience much more peace and joy. Even if we are generally quite reactive in stressful situations, God’s peace can begin to overtake our impulsiveness demonstrating increased spiritual maturity.

For the emotional formation to continue, closer day to day friendship with God is called for. A wonderful exercise is to seek to be mindful of God moment by moment. A friend or lover lives to be in the presence of the beloved. As Christ’s younger siblings, we can derive great joy and help in “sitting on Papa’s knee,” learning to walk step-by-step, hand in hand. As we draw closer to God, he will begin to show us some of his work in our immediate vicinity. This constitutes an invitation to join him in his work, and as we do, we come to know him ever deeper and deeper (Rom. 12:1-2).

Such experiences deepen our emotional bond with our Heavenly Father, and result in fruitful experiences that give us further assurance of our worth (Luke 14:34-35), and manifest the glory of God to a desperate world. As we grow closer and closer to our Lord, his love begins to “crowd out our emotional wounds.” Truly he can begin to make “the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.” God can rewrite “the hard drive of my heart” with his truth that sets me free (John 6:31-31, 36). It’s a wonderful thing to see the defeating attitudes and habitual responses go by the wayside as Christ sets his close friend free. This is a lifelong process that will be greatly facilitated by interactive prayer and intentional mindfulness of God as we go about our days.

As our close fellowship with Christ by his Spirit initiates the shedding of long-held burdens and the sin that so easily entangles, we experience more and increasingly consistent peace. This affects all of our relationships starting with our family relationships. Even long estrangements can be put to rest by newfound gentleness and increased empathy.

Husbands and wives that prioritize growing in Christ’s grace together will find the, perhaps, unanticipated benefit of each growing deeper in Christ. It can take years, but fathers can be reconciled to the son and vice versa through the prayers of many. We need to be in a process of divine character development to “grease the wheels” of relational reconciliation, but God can and often does move mountains to reconcile parents and estranged children with the basic cooperation of persistent prayer and humble acts of repentance.

Spiritual formation progresses through friendships that include a mutually encouraging spiritual component. We can pray for each other and share our successes and failures in living as representatives of Christ. What worked? What didn’t? What’s the next step and when will I do it? We can pray for boldness and love from above that compels us.

The Holy Spirit deepens the character of Christ in us as we seek to “live justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). This can only happen consistently through a deep and abiding dependence on God through his Spirit (Gal. 5:25ff). This is aided by the moment by moment mindfulness practiced by Frank C. Laubach and others.[1] Depending on how wounded we are emotionally or bound we are spiritually, we will need to actively seek healing of emotional wounds and release of spiritual burdens. A personal habit of confessing sin that includes asking God to teach us any additional unconfessed sin that we may not be aware of, is another essential component of deepening in godly character.

[1] Laubach, Frank C. Frank Laubach’s Prayer Diary. (1964)


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