Sunday night we started a series of discernment sessions with the Mustard Seed House community to work out how we can put our MSA rule of life into practice. Over the next few months we plan to use this process to flesh out the shape of not just our community life but our personal disciplines too. The idea is not to dictate how each person practices their faith but to provide a framework of accountability for the practices that each person wants to commit to. I am a great fan of British theologian John Stott. One of his great comments from a lecture of his is
“The answers we get depend on the questions we ask. Our job is not to give people answers but to help them ask the right questions
Part of what we are discovering is that this discernment process enables us to ask the right questions that move us towards a more intimate walk with God and a life in which God’s presence is more deeply connected to everything that we do.
The first half hour of our meeting was spent checking in – reflecting on what we are looking forward to and what we have experienced in the last week. This provided a wonderful foundation for our discussions. We then asked other the question:
What personal prayer and Bible study practices would you like others to hold you accountable for?
As we shared we realized that we are all had very different ideas of how much time we should spend in prayer and Bible study. Some of us were struggling with the very idea of daily prayer times because these had become rote routines that seemed to do little to strengthen our faith. After a very open time of sharing we started to grapple with what is probably a much more important question for us.
What makes us feel closest to God?
As we discussed this question we realized that most of us draw closer to God through a variety of avenues that often have very little to do with Bible study and traditional forms of prayer. However these practices often then draw us into prayer and Bible study as a way to go deeper into the revelation of God that we are already experiencing. Some of us connected to God through nature, another person through walking on the beach or reading and yet another through encountering the divine presence of God in the mundane everyday things of life. Someone else encountered God through talking to friends and strangers.
Out of this discussion we have shaped our question for next week
Out of knowing how we experience God, what practices should we encourage in each other in order to help us experience God more deeply?