Out of all the lessons that the Disciples could have asked of Jesus, their first request was, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Prayer and Spiritual Disciplines help us tend to our inner life, the place where God’s transformation begins even before it goes out to produce transformation in the world.

As part of intentional faith development, a disciple learns to “practice the presence of God”− to use the words of Brother Lawrence− through Prayer and Spiritual Disciplines. What does it look like?

Prayer can be silent or spoken; individual or communal; still or active. We commonly think of prayer in these forms:

  • Liturgical- prayer used in worship services such as the Pastoral Prayer or Lord’s Prayer.
  • Intercessory- praying for the needs of others
  • Contemplative Prayer – like a centering prayer to begin or end the day
  • Praying with Scripture- using the words of scripture as your focus prayer

Spiritual Disciplines includes prayer and can vary in shape and form. Their intent is mold us from the inside out into Christ-likeness. Some examples include:


Fasting        Sabbath        Mediation        Solitude        Silence        Thanksgiving


“This is the way it is with the Spiritual Disciplines—they are a way of sowing to the Spirit. The Disciplines are God’s way of getting us into the ground; they put us where He can work within us and transform us.”-Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline.


In the church, we tend to pray often−before a fellowship meal, in worship, by a hospital bed, before a committee meeting, at the end of a Bible study. Yet all this prayer does not mean that we are deeply and truly present to the Lord. Jesus called the church to be a “house of prayer.” How can your local church help people go deeper in their prayer life and engage in the “soul exercises” commonly known as Spiritual Disciplines?



Reading Resource

General Prayer

  • Prayer by Phillip Yancey
  • Dimensions of Prayer by Douglas Steere

General Spiritual Disciplines

  • Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
  • The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith

Church/Pastoral Leadership

  • You Only Have to Die: Leading your Congregation to Change by Jim Harnish
  • Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity by Eugene Peterson

Doing Resource

Some practices that you, your church, or small group can try:

  • Praying the Psalms
  • Incorporating Prayer Stations in worship
  • Prayer Labyrinth
  • Lectio Divina (or holy reading)
  • Journaling


If you have questions or would like to further explore these Stepping Stones to faith development
please contact Rev. Amber Massingill by phone (817-877-5222) or email (