The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Circle yourself in God's love

Begin your day with a spiritual practice of early Christians

We were a little suspicious of spiritual practices when we were growing up.

Perhaps we heard too many sermons warning us not to fall into the trap of "works righteousness" and think we could earn our way to heaven if we racked up enough good points on God's scorecard. Salvation, we learned, wasn't achieved through our actions but was a gift of God, a grace. Somewhere along with that affirmation we absorbed the idea that spiritual practices were unnecessary — or even dangerous — and to be avoided.

We now know that our childhood understandings didn't capture the theological complexities of the works vs. grace discussion. Lacking a good definition of spiritual practices, we didn't realize we were already engaged in several common ones — going to church, singing hymns, participating in the liturgy, saying grace before meals and prayers at bedtime. It took time and experience for us to learn how important regular spiritual nurture is to the life of faith.

We found insights into spiritual practices through our marriage.

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