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Posted: September 14th, 2023

Cultivating Inner Growth through Discipline and Reflection

Spiritual Formation. This reflection paper will provide you with a basis for the benchmark assignment in Topic 7. This paper will demonstrate your ability to apply knowledge gained from Topics 1-5 to evaluate your current stage of personal spiritual growth. This paper is not meant to “grade” you on your spiritual formation, but rather to provide reflection on your actions.

In a 900-1,000-word paper, evaluate yourself with regard to spiritual formation and the spiritual disciplines in the past. The paper should include the following:

Areas where you have demonstrated inward spiritual formation and spiritual discipline
Methods used to practice the inward spiritual formation and spiritual discipline
Reflection on your inward spiritual formation and spiritual discipline
Prepare this assignment according to the APA guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center.

Cultivating Inner Growth through Discipline and Reflection
Spiritual formation is the process of growing and maturing in one’s faith and relationship with God through spiritual disciplines and self-reflection. While spiritual growth is a lifelong journey, making spiritual formation a priority can help believers deepen their walk with Christ. This article will explore key aspects of spiritual formation, including inward disciplines, methods of practice, and reflective evaluation of one’s spiritual growth.
Inward Spiritual Disciplines
Several spiritual disciplines focus inward and cultivate intimacy with God through stillness, meditation, and prayer. Practices like daily Bible reading, prayer, and meditation allow believers to hear God speaking to their hearts (Ps. 46:10). Journaling spiritual reflections is also beneficial, as writing down insights and prayers aids recollection (Ps. 19:14). Fasting, or abstaining from food/drink for spiritual focus, can strengthen self-discipline and dependence on God (Mt. 6:16-18). Solitude and silence create space to be still before God, listen to his voice, and discern his will (Ps. 46:10). These inward disciplines foster spiritual awareness and shape one’s thoughts to be in line with Scripture.
Methods of Practicing Disciplines
While spiritual disciplines require individualizing based on personality and season of life, some general methods can aid consistent practice. First, choose a limited number of disciplines, like one Bible study and one prayer discipline, to avoid becoming overwhelmed (Mt. 11:28-30). Second, schedule regular times, even if just 15 minutes, to minimize excuses of busyness (Ps. 1:2). Third, vary locations, like studying at home some days but also at a coffee shop, to keep practices interesting. Fourth, enlist an accountability partner to share progress and struggles with for encouragement and advice (Ecc. 4:9-12). Fifth, use creative mediums like drawing or journaling to engage different learning styles. Finally, be patient through dry seasons, as growth is a process requiring perseverance (2 Pet. 3:18). Consistent yet flexible methods nurture long-term spiritual habits.
Reflecting on Spiritual Growth
Regular self-evaluation aids ongoing formation. First, look to Scripture as the standard for maturity, comparing behaviors, thoughts, and motivations to biblical virtues (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Second, note areas of growth, like increased patience or generosity, to recognize God’s work and stay encouraged. Third, identify current weaknesses to specifically pray about and focus disciplines on addressing. Fourth, ask close Christian friends or a mentor for honest perspective on blind spots missed in self-evaluation (Prov. 27:17). Fifth, keep past spiritual journals or notes to track progress over time in a particular area. Finally, give thanks to God for continuing spiritual transformation, however incremental, as his work in believers is sure (Phil. 1:6). Reflection helps believers cooperate with God’s sanctifying work.
In conclusion, spiritual formation cultivates Christlikeness through the intentional practice of spiritual disciplines and regular self-reflection. While a journey, making spiritual growth a priority through inward disciplines, thoughtful methods, and evaluation aids steady transformation by God’s grace. Remaining open before God through study, prayer, and stillness nurtures intimacy with him and shapes believers into his likeness from the inside out.
Works Cited
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Life Together. HarperOne, 2018.
Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us. IVP Books, 2015.
Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. HarperOne, 1998.
Willard, Dallas. The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives. HarperOne, 1991.

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