December 7, 2018

Besides the fear that God is distant and unloving, a general sense of unworthiness or sinfulness can prevent us from praying. Ironically, the times when we believe we are most unworthy and most distant from God are the ones when we need to pray the most! Expectations for fantastic or revelatory prayer experiences can exacerbate this fear, as those who fear God’s distance or rejection can interpret the silence of God as confirmation of their unworthiness and sinfulness. It’s tempting… Read more

December 3, 2018

The following post is part of an ongoing series that will examine the barriers that keep us from praying: One of the most pressing foundational challenges that keeps us from praying may not even be detected as a “barrier” at first for many. Rather, it may loom as a hidden assumption or an uneasy feeling for those who sit down to pray. At the very least, many people struggle to pray because they don’t picture a loving or merciful God…. Read more

November 27, 2018

Passing through spiritual burnout or coming to the potential end of your faith can be distressing, disconcerting, and disorienting, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your pursuit of God. In fact, I have found that my moments of breakdown and burnout have become opportunities for renewal. I typically found a way (or perhaps “ways”) that I had overlooked or confronted toxic theology that had become a dead end. Once I let go of what wasn’t working, I… Read more

November 19, 2018

I tend to be suspicious of the ways smartphone apps promise quick and convenient fixes to complex problems. As good as some apps can be in providing simple hacks for spirituality or convenient access to spiritual resources you wouldn’t normally carry around, I remain concerned that even spiritual growth apps can lead to unhelpful reliance on smartphones. We may be better off just taking a few moments to sit in mindful silence before God or to pray a simple prayer,… Read more

November 17, 2018

Moving from a shame and guilt-based spirituality to a silent, contemplative space has required a kind of leap of faith to believe in God’s preemptive love. This hasn’t been easy after growing up in the courtroom of substitutionary atonement theology where God accepted me on a seeming technicality. The starting point for contemplative spirituality is God’s present love and a Savior who looks at us as people in desperate need of a doctor. Jesus didn’t come to call the righteous,… Read more

November 13, 2018

How do brands and individuals make a splash in the attention economy of social media? They need to stand out with something so unusual, so extreme, and so noteworthy that people can’t resist sharing it and talking about it. As a native of Philadelphia and lifelong hockey fan, I couldn’t miss exhibit A in the battle to win in the attention economy: Gritty. A kind of google-eyed, orange-bearded abomination that was so bad, fans soon deemed him good. Gritty is… Read more

November 9, 2018

Since the 2016 election, I have experienced my fair share of despair and alarm over political news and have sought to regain my mental and spiritual footing through routine contemplative prayer practices. Over the past week, we have experienced a few particularly clear examples of the wider trends of emotionally manipulative stories in our current media and political environment. While I can’t be certain about what is actually going on behind the scenes in these news events, we have more… Read more

November 8, 2018

  At a Christian writers conference this year, I had a few moments to speak with an author of a best-selling book on spirituality. Before we could even begin to catch up, he drew my attention to all of the activity around us. Growing in agitation at the hustle and bustle, he made the following comment, “If we aren’t caring for our souls, then what are we doing?” That question has lingered with me in the months that have followed…. Read more

October 30, 2018

Thomas Merton entered a Cistercian monastery, learned how to pray, and soon alienated some of his brothers by not so gently informing them that they were introverts, not contemplatives. They were kinda contemplative. Even Merton himself was hesitant to use the word “contemplative” as a label for himself. He viewed his role in contemplative prayer as quieting himself so that God could become his all in all. Contemplation is the presence of God in his people. It is a prayer… Read more

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