Devotions from Henri Nouwen’s book, Spiritual Formation

When Henri talks about Spiritual formation, he is not giving steps or stages on the way to perfection. Instead it’s about “The movements from the mind to the heart through prayer in its many forms that reunite us with God, each other, and our truest self.” He thinks of prayer as standing in the presence of God with the mind in the heart, where we are one within ourselves, with God and with others. He names some practices that help fashion our hearts for God.

  1. Reflection on our own hearts and times.  Our spiritual lives are lived in the midst of pains and joys of here and now. So we need to look at the way we think, speak, feel, and act to become aware of our hunger for the Spirit.
  2. Lectio  divina. Lectio means to read the Bible with reverence and openness to what the Spirit is saying to us in the present moment. We read not for information but of formation. It is a sacred book to nurture us and to unify our hearts and minds.
  3. Silence. Without silence the Word of God can’t bear fruit or become our inner guide and speak to us.  It is not an easy discipline but when our minds and hearts are filled with words, there is no space for the Word to descend from our mind into our hearts where it can become flesh and blood in us.
  4. Outward journey to community. “Prayer in the spiritual life leads to community, and community to prayer.” In community we discover our own woundedness, but it is also a place of healing.  It is in community that we

       learn what it means to confess our weaknesses and to forgive each other.

Spiritual formation is the way of the heart and the way to freedom. We are set free to enjoy life in all its fullness.