Can the web help us grow spiritually? Yes! It is true, of course, that in any number of ways websites and blogs can quickly and easily de-form us spiritually, but there are some wonderful sites and web resources that can help “form Christ in us”, the essence of spiritual formation. Abraham Kuyper said famously “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'” And that includes inches that exist in cyberspace. Here are some places that can help us grow in Christ and stay connected to God, or be a quick place to learn about new disciplines and practices. How is God inviting you to new ways of being with him?
This is a staple for me, a fantastic ministry out of the UK, and is wonderful on the computer and works great on smartphones. In about 12 minutes, there’s suitably reflective music, the Gospel reading for the day read twice in ‘lectio divina’ style, with simple reflections offered and questions asked, and guidance to pray. It concludes each time with the Gloria said in many voices, to which you can add your own. I love this one! You will too.
Whether you take 3 minutes or 10 minutes or more to work through this simple, Gospel-reading based tool for prayer, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’re ushered into God’s loving presence, and find calm there. Again, it’s great on smartphones or a perfect thing to use the first thing when you get on your computer in a given day, or in the middle of the day.
Have a hard time keeping the lectionary reading schedule straight from the back of our Book of Common Prayer? (ie, “Is it year A or year B? Is this the 9th or 10th week of Ordinary Time?”) You’re not the only one! No matter. Go to this site and sign up, and sometime around 2am you’ll have the daily lectionary readings, complete with Psalms, delivered to your inbox. One of the best ways to be with God is to be with his Word!
The Henri Nouwen Society
Also delivered each day in your inbox, should you sign up for them on this site, are a few short and insightful sentences from Henri Nouwen, whose words and life have ministered to so many of us. What better way to start the day than with a reminder like this: “Do we have to become victims of our unceasing thoughts? No, we can convert our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer by making our inner monologue into a continuing dialogue with our God, who is the source of all love.” (from January 14)
The Transforming Center
This from the ministry of my sister, Ruth Haley Barton. On the home page, click on “News Feed” and sign up and you’ll begin receiving regular reflections from her and others on the spiritual life and spiritual formation, weekly during Lent and Advent. They’re always insightful, challenging, and encouraging.
Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation & Culture
So much of our spiritual formation revolves around our work and vocation, and our attempts to faithful, fruitful, and find God in both. Go the homepage of The Washington Institute, click on the box “We Invite You In”, and sign up to get regular reflections on how your work (paid or unpaid) matters to God, and how he calls us and meets us and shapes us there.
Renovare (Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and friends) is simply one of the richest resources out there for spiritual formation and becoming more like Jesus. At the “Spiritual Renewal” section of the site, there’s a treasure trove of great reading materials for learning, and more importantly, doing.
To paraphrase St. Paul, “Whether we eat or drink or surf the web, do it all to the glory of God!”
(This article first appeared in The Current of The Falls Church Anglican)