2 Healing with Spiritual Practices Definitions and Concepts Spiritual formation has been practiced for millennia. Spiritually formative practices include any action or activity that one engages in with the intention of cultivating spirituality or spiritual experiences, including but not limited to meditation/prayer, reading sacred texts, receiving spiritual direction or instruction, and gathering as a community. Broadly speaking, spirituality is defined as closeness or intimacy with what one holds to be sacred. Davis and colleagues1 describe sources of spiritualty that individuals often draw upon in their individual practices. Typically, religious spirituality involves express- ing one’s spirituality within a well-defined community of like-minded people sharing common beliefs, values, and practices (e.g., Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam). Others might treat humanity as sacred, which would yield humanistic spirituality, or they might treat nature or the natural environ- ment as sacred, which would yield nature spirituality. Still others seek to reach their own highest human potential, yielding self-spirituality, focusing inward for enlightenment. Finally, seeking the sacred outside of oneself or corporeal existence yields transcendent spirituality. Of course, any given individual can be moved by numerous types of spirituality. Christian Spiritual Formation As one example of spiritual formation, consider Christians who see spiri- tual formation as a process of being conformed to or having (more of) the mind of Christ. When Christians are converted (see Acts 9), they are born again (John 3:3) and become new creations (2 Cor. 5:17a) the old person is said to be dead, and the new person is enlivened by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 5:17b). They are enjoined to develop the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16 Phil. 2:5), which is characterized first by humility (Rom. 12:3 Phil. 2:6–9). Romans 12:2 (all quotes are from the New International Version) says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.” In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul writes, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” As Christians become transformed into more Christlike people, through the working of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit—“love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control” (Gal. 5:22)—grows within them and is manifested outwardly. Spiritual growth is not automatic. Rather, it requires both human effort and God’s sovereign working. As Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians (2:8–10), “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can
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