In "Voices of Faith," religious leaders answer readers' questions.
Follow steps to vibrant spirituality
Pastor Raymond Davis Jr., Greater Corinthian Church of the Christ: For spiritual life to become stagnant means that something has taken your attention away from your spiritual practices that make possible the spiritual life. The Bible calls the spiritual life "life of peace." "For to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Romans 8:6b)
Four basic practices are essential to a vibrant spirituality: prayer, Scripture reading, church fellowship and occasional fasting. Of these four practices, the first two give an anointing that's very soul nurturing.
Sometimes spiritual stagnation comes through short and long periods of troubling circumstances that bring about fear. But such times are times to remember what is said in the word of God: "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and a sound mind" in 2nd Timothy 1:7.
Sometimes spiritual stagnation comes through human failure. There is lost focus and straying away from the right path. The Bible speaks of David, whom God loved very dearly and who was made to realize his straying away and lost focus. He didn't stagger in his faith; he sought the path to recovery. He didn't use the word stagnant. In his confession prayer, he told God he had experienced lost joy and he wanted it back: "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation" were his words. (Psalm 51:12)
Change how you relate to the world
Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center & Monastery: Most of us see the spiritual world as separate from our everyday world. We believe that a spiritual life is reserved only for priests, nuns and monks. When we see the spiritual as separate from the ordinary world, our view is very narrow, like tunnel vision. If you are dissatisfied with your level of faith, you may, in fact, be dissatisfied with how you are relating to the world.
Faith manifests itself in our everyday actions. The problem for most of us is that we see "faith" as an accomplishment or a personal possession. Faith is more than just a belief in this or that; it is a vision of a greater and deeper reality. It is a vision of how our lives and our world can manifest great compassion.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, "All religions share a common root, which is limitless compassion. They emphasize human improvement, love, respect for others and compassion for the suffering of others."
Faith, then, is a challenge for us to open to our vision to how our lives and the world can be fully awake. It is asking us to become more kind and more compassionate, and to practice loving kindness in our everyday lives. So, if you feel your spiritual life is stagnant, then that is a wake-up call to change how you are relating to the world around you.