What is Spiritual Formation?

O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63: 1, NRSV)

“Spiritual formation is a rather general term referring to all attempts, means, instructions, and disciplines intended towards deepening of faith and furtherance of spiritual growth. It includes educational endeavors as well as the more intimate and in-depth processes of spiritual direction.”

    –Gerald May, Care of Mind, Care of Spirit

The dynamics of shaping the human spirit toward maturity and consonance [sounding together]. Spiritual formation can refer to two closely related processes. The first is a basic fact of life: as creatures we are constantly being formed by the world around us; and as creatures with a spirit capable of transcending our world, we can be aware of and take part in that formation. … The second process is the more deliberate attempt to form ourselves or allow ourselves to be formed within a particular spiritual tradition. …

The process of spiritual formation can differ widely from person to person, due to personality, personal history, and the particular formation tradition(s) embraced. The only certainties are that our spirits will continue to be formed (or de-formed) throughout our lives and that God will continue to call us into deeper, more consonant relationships with God, our truest selves, and the people and world around us.

    The Upper Room Dictionary of Christian Spiritual Formation

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