Sunday, December 30, 2018

New Year's Resolution for the Spirit

New Year's Resolutions are a big part of conversation as the end of the year approaches.  Gyms gear up for a January onslaught of people who made resolutions to exercise more (and for the usual March drop off of many of those people).  Book stores also prepare for a rush on self-help books on a variety of topics.

If your New Year's Resolution involves your spiritual life here are some ideas of ways to pick up a spiritual practice for 2019:

You could add prayer to your day (once or several times)

·         The easiest way to begin integrating prayer is to pick a part of your day and add prayer to it.  That can be as simple as saying grace before lunch or dinner every day or saying a prayer when you wake up or go to bed.
·         Prayer, at its base, is talking & listening to God – so it doesn’t have to be formal “Good morning God” is as good a way to begin as any other.
·         Many people find that having a structure to their prayers help a lot
o   Forward Day by Day has a short devotion every day (it also lists the readings for that day at the top).  You can pick up one in any of the literature racks at church or go to  There is a link to Forward Day by Day so you can read it on-line
o   Many people pray some portion of what is called “the Daily Office”  That is Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, & Compline.  You can do all of those or start with one (if you are starting with one, start with Noonday Prayer or Compline, which is late night prayer).  You can find instructions for the Daily Office in the front part of the Book of Common Prayer and a schedule of Daily Office readings in the back.  You can get a Book of Common Prayer for your kindle or on-line at  If you want a hard copy you can order it from Amazon or let Pastor Vicki know and she can give you one.
o   If you want to pray the daily office on-line you can do that in a couple of places
§ posts all four of the Daily Office prayers every day
§  Mission Saint Claire also offers the Daily Office on-line every day.  This includes some hymns that you can play if you would like -
o   The Book of Common Prayer also has a section called “Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families”.  It is on pages 137 – 140.  There are prayers for Morning, Noon, Early Evening and Close of Day.
·         Many people find that keeping a prayer journal if very helpful.  This can be as simple as writing down each day what you are praying about.  If you want more structure, try making four sections: People & Thinks I’m Praying For: People & Things I’m Thankful for: Things I am sorry about: Praise to God and writing something in each section each day.

You could add Bible Study or Reflection to your day
·         Reading the Bible regularly is one of the best ways to stay connected with God.
·         At the website you can find a link to a series of daily readings.
·         St. Paul’s is also doing a Bible Challenge that has readings for 6 of the 7 days of the week.  In January we are starting the minor prophets – the short books at the end of the Old Testament.  You can pick up a pamphlet about the Bible Challenge on the Way of Love bulletin boards in the hallway and the library.
·         If you want to start reading through the whole Bible, you might with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) rather than with Genesis.  Another way to start is to read one Psalm each day (there are 150 Psalms)
·         If you are looking to purchase a Bible for you or your child, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) is what we read in church on Sunday.  The Common English Bible (CEB) is a newer translation that is accurate and readable.  The CEB aims for a 7th – 8th grade reading level.  The NRSV is at about an 11th grade reading level.
·         If you want to read Bible stories with children there are several good Bible story books
o   Tomie dePaola’s Book of Bible Stories (GP Putnam’s, 1990), ages 2-10.
o   Spark Story Bible: Sunday School Edition (Augsburg Fortress, 2009), ages 3-7.
o   Children of God Storybook Bible by Desmond Tutu (Zonderkidz, 2010), ages 4-8.
o   Shine On: A Story Bible (MennoMedia, 2014), ages 8-11
o   The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible by Janice Emmerson (Harvest House, 2014), ages 7-11.
o   The Children’s Illustrated Story Bible by Selena Hastings (Dorling Kindersley, 2004), ages 8-12.
o   The Lion Bible for Children by Murray Watts, Helen Cann (Lion Hudson, 2014), ages 9-12.
o   Thank you to Church Publishing Incorporated for this list from their Way of Love for Families resource.

Worship is an important part of the life of the spirit
Gathering with other Christians to praise God and be in community is an important part of keeping our spiritual life balanced.  Committing (or recommitting) to regular attendance at worship can help ground our spiritual lives.

Rest is also a part of the life of the spirit
It is very difficult for us as 21st century Americans to really rest.  We tend to try to schedule or program our rest.  One way to start adding rest to your spiritual practice is to pick a few hours each week (it doesn’t have to be the same time each week) where you don’t schedule anything, create a space of time where you can just be and not have to do.