Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.
— Romans 12:2 NIV
Every day, our character and values are molded, shaped and formed by a multitude of factors, such as the people we interact with, the media we consume, the music we embrace, and how we choose to invest our time. If we are not being intentionally formed by Jesus himself, then we may be unintentionally formed by the world. Spiritual formation is one way to counteract this and proactively be formed by Christ. It is the process by which we are transformed through practices found in Scripture (Philippians 4:8-9) for the purpose of deepening our relationship with God and reflecting his image. Practices may include different types of prayer, gratitude, rest, celebration, humility and more.
In This Article:
Why Is Spiritual Formation Important?
I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
— John 15:5 NLT
Now that we’ve addressed the question, what is spiritual formation?, you may be wondering why it is significant and the impact it makes. Today, many Christians attend church service, spend time in prayer, and occasionally read their Bibles. While these do hold significance, there is so much more God is inviting us into that extends beyond religious norms and into every facet of our daily lives. Jesus created you for relationship with him — a relationship that asks you to remain in him throughout our daily lives because we know we cannot rely on our own doing. We should allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and the most inward parts of our being to be restored into the image of God in which we were created. It moves us from not only professing Christianity, but to practicing it.
Where To Begin
There is a large toolbox of spiritual practices you can choose from to discover which best suit your personality and your unique relationship with God. However, this can also feel overwhelming, so it is important to know where to begin. Here are three tips to begin your own spiritual formation journey:
1. Invite God in:
Because the goal of spiritual formation is to commune with God and train in his ways, what better place to start than inviting God himself into the process? He knows your heart more than anyone else (Jeremiah 17:9-10). Ask him where he would like you to begin. Seek his face and allow him to reveal your sin and areas of weakness, so that you can find spiritual practices to combat them and grow closer to the Father.
2. Consider your season of life:
Research different practices and find one or two that meet your current needs in this season. For example, if you are extremely busy and in need of rest, maybe God is calling you to start practicing Sabbath. If you are going through something difficult, lament prayer may be comforting, whereas if you’re in an exciting season, you may start with the practice of celebration. Regardless of how far along you are in your walk with God, how you are doing emotionally, or your season of life, there are spiritual practices available to you.
3. Practice in community:
While some spiritual practices are more individual based, it is valuable to practice within community to provide encouragement and accountability. God does not wish for you to operate alone. Find a friend or a group to meet with on a regular basis. Some ideas may include making a group chat for friends to message about their weekly gratitude or inviting a group over to practice intercessory prayer and pray for each other. It is possible to practice on your own, but just as iron sharpens iron, one person can sharpen another (Proverbs 27:17). Our personal spiritual formation is sharpened by fellowship with others practicing alongside us.
Reflect on a time where it was necessary for you to train. Perhaps you trained for a sport, an exam or a new job. It is likely when you first started, your muscles were weaker, you were less skilled, and you didn’t have all the knowledge and resources you have acquired now.
Spiritual formation is a very similar process. Through spiritual practices, we are exercising our faith and building a muscle within us. We are simply training to be more like Jesus. You may not notice transformation right away, but over time you will catch sight of the good fruit that has been borne and become more in awe of the God that loves you.
If you have a desire to train in the ways of Jesus, learn more about various spiritual practices and engage in community, consider attending Grand Canyon University’s Spiritual Formation workshops or adding a Spiritual Formation and Discipleship minor to your degree.
Approved by the local outreach coordinator of the Office of Spiritual Life on October 24, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.