Spiritual Exercises

The Smile Cycle

July 2008 | Published in Spiritual Exercises

For many years, David Berg and his wife, Maria, took vigorous walks for their daily exercise. At one point, they kept crossing paths with a certain older man. They eventually learned that he was a bachelor and that his name was Feliciano, meaning “happy.” He seemed anything but happy, though. “He had the grumpiest look you ever saw,” Berg later recalled. “He was always well dressed in a nice suit, and he seemed to be an important man in town, but he would walk along with his hands folded behind his back, staring at the ground. Whenever Maria or I tried to catch his eye and smile at him, he quickly looked the other way. We wanted so much to turn his frown into a smile that we made that our secret project. It took two years, but finally he smiled back at us. From that day on, Feliciano’s countenance and whole manner changed.”

Breathe Deep

June 2008 | Published in Spiritual Exercises

God is like the air we breathe—all around us, invisible, and vital to our health and happiness. Just as we need to breathe clean, fresh air to be strong and healthy physically, we need to partake of God’s Spirit to be strong and healthy spiritually. Under normal circumstances, breathing is an unconscious, involuntary act. God would like our relationship with Him to be that natural, and He created us with all the necessary equipment. But unlike breathing, for most of us, making that connection with God doesn’t come so easily; it requires a conscious effort on our part. Actually, it’s easier than it seems, and with a little practice it becomes even easier. Try this:

Action Through Prayer

May 2008 | Published in Spiritual Exercises

Praying for others is a powerful way of putting love into action. You’re not only thinking of them and wanting to help, but you’re doing something about it. Prayer, as millions of people worldwide will attest, does change things. Prayer moves God’s hand and heart to do the things we ask. It doesn’t always happen right away, but eventually those prayers are answered in the way God knows is best for everyone involved.

Praying for others not only benefits those people, but you too. It brings a spirit of faith, a positive spirit, because you’re focusing on God’s goodness and power and expecting Him to answer. When you manifest faith by praying, it pleases God and He goes to work in the situation or in the person’s life. He loves you and the one you’re praying for, and He wants to effect positive change. Your prayers set His power in motion.

A Cupful of Joy

April 2008 | Published in Spiritual Exercises

“The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Joy and praise—thankfulness to God for His goodness—are connected. When you take time to thank God for your blessings, your problems and concerns fade into the background. Concentrating on the good things God has brought into your life puts you in a positive frame of mind. Do that for a while, and you’ll find that you’re happier than before. Keep it up, and your happiness will grow. With this joy in your heart, you won’t be so easily pulled down by problems or worries; you will be encouraged and strengthened in spirit.

Finding Rest of Spirit

March 2008 | Published in Spiritual Exercises

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7).

Any weight, no matter how light it may seem at first, will wear you down if you carry it long enough. This is true physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. That’s why it’s so important to learn to take a few minutes on a regular basis to rest and renew your spirit. Even Jesus needed that. When the demands of His ministry to the multitudes became too much, He would escape to a private place and commune with His Father in prayer (Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35, 6:46; Luke 6:12). He instructs us to do the same, and He promises unparalleled results. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden … and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29).

Package Prayer

February 2008 | Published in Spiritual Exercises

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).

Soft background music may help set the tone. Begin this exercise by closing your eyes, and breathe deeply and slowly for a minute. Now mentally articulate one by one the concerns and worries on your mind today, such as things you need to take care of, or situations at work or with your children, or health issues.

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