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October 23, 2010
Boredom seeps into each spiritual life -- at least, it seeps into all those I've been privileged to know about, my own included. Familiar and much-beloved practices grow tedious, held grimly together by nothing more than a sense of duty and the forlorn hope that somehow joy will flood back into one of them.

Now, duty is an fine thing, and I'm all for it. But I also know that God intends the gifts of spiritual practice -- and they are all gifts -- for our delight and sustenance, and that duty all by itself can be a thin gruel. So here is a thought: perhaps a more appropriate hope is not that what used to fill me will fill me again, in just the same way, but that God has a new gift for me. Perhaps the tedium is a signal to change something.

People sometimes react with shock to this suggestion: You mean, just desert my faithful old practice? But that's disloyal! It's like getting a divorce when the infatuation wears off!

No, it's not. Changing your spiritual practice isn't like divorcing God; it's more like moving to a new apartment. Your relationship is with God, not with the means by which you connect with God. It's normal for spiritual practice to change -- it's a human activity, after all, and human beings are nothing if not changeable. In particular, be alert to the possibility of a change in the way you experience your own prayer practice if you've had a change in your life circumstances. The spiritual and the temporal lives aren't two separate lives: they're different expressions of the same life. Change in one affects the other. That's not disloyalty. It's just the way we are.

So who knows? Maybe this stale period is really a chance to try something different, maybe even something you've never felt especially drawn to before. Morning Prayer about as deep an experience as brushing your teeth? Try using that time to journal a few lines instead. Or switch to Evening Prayer. Or a daily Eucharist, if you're blessed to live in a place where that happens. Or a hymn-a-day meditation. Or a mental gratitude/intercession list coupled with a daily morning walk -- do your thanksgivings on the way out and your intercessions on the way back. Or let God do all the work: have someone show you the simple steps used in Centering Prayer.

I do know this: there's a spiritual practice for absolutely everybody. They're not all the same, but not a single one of us is left out.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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