De-mystifying the Spirit (1)

Reasons why we resist demystifying the spirit.

1. Afraid of removing all the wonder.
God is the Source and author of prayer, silence, stillness and peace. All our praying is a gift of God's grace. It is a miracle that we pray at all. We pray for God's sake and to God's glory. In our most profound moments, we are caught up beyond ourselves in the mystery of love, seeking God for no reason but because God is God. Our praying is a journey into God, pursued for the sake of God alone.

Remains true, but still more we can learn as to how it works. Will never reach the end of it. Will always be mystery, potential beyond our grasp. God will always be Other. However far we travel, always more.

2. nervous about the whole concept of "praying for results" and rightly so.
experience of "unanswered" prayer. Like many, I have come to the conclusion that no prayer goes unanswered, it is just that so often we do not like the answer we receive. The answer may be "no" or "not at this time" or "not in this place" or "not amongst these people" or "not in this way". God remains silent and apparently unresponsive so that we have to take responsibility ourselves, refine our question, become the answer to our prayer rather than evade the issue or dump the responsibility for addressing the problem on someone else.

God's silence is not callous disregard, but a generous gift of space in which we are encouraged to grow in honesty, attention and trust. It feels as though God does not care because we are actually frightened by the idea of growing. Growth takes us out of our comfort zone. It requires us to face our fear, let go of what is hindering us, make a choice, take action, accept the consequences and work with them. God does not "answer" any prayer which will hold us back from growing. Instead, God's response is to give us the space to grow. If we accept this, instead of "kicking against the goads" all the time, we will find that we are drawn ever deeper into conversation with God. The next stage of the journey with God. A dialogue which asks everything of us, but which, in return, gives us everything of God.

We recognise that God is the Source of our Life and that God is Mystery. Holy Mystery. God is by far and away the Senior Partner. But there is more that we can do to align ourselves with the loving and creative and life-giving Spirit of God. Far more. And if there is more that we can do, we have a responsibility to do it, or at least to attempt it, because we need the "more life" that this would bring.

Definition of Spirituality

In this context 'Spirituality' is used as a shorthand for developing an understanding of the contemporary culture in which the Methodist Church is set, as that culture explores the spiritual dimension of life but not necessarily using any traditional Christian framework. 'Evangelism' refers to the specific task of the Christian Church of making more disciples of Jesus Christ as expressed in 'Our Calling'.

From Martyn Atkins (booklet on discipleship?)

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