Recently, college friends of mine were vacationing near Fort Worth. We made plans to get together so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to finally go to a rodeo at the Stockyards. Throughout the night we saw barrel racing, bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping and team roping. We had a great time and enjoyed the rodeo immensely. To me the most impressive part of the show was when one of the cowboys demonstrated his roping skills. He showed us tricks but the most impressive skill was him spinning the rope around his horse, while standing on the horse and while moving around the arena. He made it look easy however it was not easy at all. I knew that if I was to pick up a rope, I would have trouble trying to just spin it without hitting myself in the face, let alone doing it with such precision while trying to keep my balance. Those skills took months if not years to learn.
It struck me that the same principle applies when it comes to spiritual disciplines like prayer, silence, meditation, etc. Although we are all born as spiritual beings, no one naturally has any of the disciplines mastered. Spiritual disciplines don’t come easy to us, hence the “discipline” part of the name. Just like the person with the rope these skills do not come to us effortlessly. These disciplines require energy and can take many years to develop to a point where we are comfortable with them and are comfortable doing them in front of others. A person has to start off small and master those skills before they can move on to even bigger and more impressive skills. This can be a time-consuming process.
Getting to where you want to be when it comes to spiritual discipline looks different for different people. Just as people work out in various ways physically, the same thing can be said of our spirituality. You have to figure out what works best for you. John and Charles Wesley’s mother, Susanna, who also mothered 17 other kids, used to pull her prayer apron over her head in order to be able to spend time “alone” with God. Her children knew that when her head was covered with her apron that they better not interrupt her unless it was absolutely necessary. There is a myriad of other ways in which we can practice spiritual disciplines. Try some of them out and see what works for you and trust me, just like the cowboy twirling the rope, it will get easier with practice.