Peace includes your relationship with yourself. If you are not taking care of your natural needs, it is difficult to be at peace with others. For this spiritual practice, it would be wise to consult your physician and work with a coach. Here are a few ideas to get you started in this spiritual practice.
1. Examine how you are treating your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Confess your lack of self-care and ask for God to help you honor him with your body. When you slip up in self-care, extend grace to yourself, and begin again.
2. Eat nutrient-rich food. New research is changing what is considered healthy. Limit your intake of sugar and processed foods. Eat greens (vegetables) and not grains. Limit your intake of animal products. Eating nutritious meals will lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight, which will result in more energy.
3. Sleep 7-8 hours each night. Keep a record of how much you sleep and the quality of your sleep. Don’t watch TV or look at a computer screen within the hour before going to bed. Get room-darkening curtains. Don’t drink caffeine after 4:00 p.m. Think of sleep as a spiritual discipline, like the Sabbath.
4. Activity/Movement. A sedentary lifestyle affects the quality of your life. If you sit at a desk, get up every 20 minutes and move around. Walk or exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Participate in a variety of activities in your program, such as walking, running, biking, swimming. Variety will help you keep up your program. Include exercises such as yoga and weight lifting that strengthen your muscles, particularly your core.
Prayer of Petition
Prayers of petition are simply asking God for things we need. The Lord’s Prayer, considered a model for praying, includes a petition: “Give us this day, our daily bread,” is a recognition of our dependence on God to supply our needs. The prayer of petition should include a statement of your willingness to accept God’s will regardless if the prayer is answered or not. The model of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:19-13 and Luke 11:1-4) teaches us to say, “Thy Will be done.”
This spiritual practice helps you develop margin in your life and live in the now.
1. Throughout the day, take a deep breath and relax your body. Pray and ask God to help you live in the present.
2. Slow down. Intentionally get in the slowest line at the bank or checkout lane in the store. Drive in the slow lane. At a meal, take longer to eat and savor each bite. Take a longer shower or bath. As you slow down your mind and body, enjoy God’s presence. What do you notice around you? What is God saying to you?
3. Build margin in your schedule. The frantic pace of today’s life and our immediate availability through technology often eliminates margin from our lives and produces the disease of “hurriedness.” Acknowledge God’s presence by taking a deep breath before you answer a call, walk into a meeting, or accomplish the next task. Schedule margin between meetings. Emails, instant messaging, texts, phone calls can cause a sense of unnecessary urgency and anxiety. Electronic messages can be particularly frustrating when one is attempting to complete a project, creating anxiety because you are further behind in the project. When working a project that needs your undivided attention, go technologically silent for a spell. Schedule time to catch up on email and other communications. Only you can control your schedule and your anxiety. Don’t let imaginary deadlines harm your spiritual, physical, and relational health.
The breath prayer provides an opportunity to slow down our mind and body, and acknowledge our desire for an intimate relationship with God. It is a reminder that just as we need air to live, we need God’s presence in our lives. There are many different forms of this prayer.
1. Adele Calhoun, in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, described this discipline:
To practice breath prayer, ponder the nearness of God. Settle deeply into the truth that Christ is in you. Deeply breath in, repeating any name of God that is dear to you. . . When you exhale, offer up the desire of your heart. The brevity of the prayer allows it to be repeated over and over throughout the day.
An example of a breath prayer would be to say “Jesus” when you breathe in, and when you exhale say, “have mercy on me.” Repeat that process for a minute.
2. Pray the Jesus Prayer. “Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner.” [Luke 18:30 & Luke 18:13]
3. Use the breath prayer as intercession. “God, be near to Mark.” “Lord, help me be a witness in the meeting.” The repetition is for your benefit, not God’s. The practice of repetition rewires your brain, or in the words of scripture “renews your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
What spiritual practices have you found helpful when you struggle with worry and anxiety?