Christian spiritual formation is, broadly, the development of an inward life
of prayer and meditation that imitates, so far as possible, the holiness of
Jesus Christ. Historically, the first Christians to address their
spiritual progress were desert monks in the early centuries of Christianity.
Influential senior monks gave advice to their juniors on how to pray, resist
temptations, and be helpful to others.
In the Reformed Tradition, spiritual formation became severed from monastic
life, and centered much more on the relationship between individual Christians
and God. Common practices that foster spiritual development include
prayer of all kinds – from petitions, to praise, worship, thanksgiving, and
owning one’s dependence on God. Also included are meditation, lectio
divina, silence, and the use of icons and incense or candles.
Though forming a sound spiritual practice appears to look mainly inward, the
outward results can amaze. Being deeply in touch with God enhances one’s
ability to aid others in their sufferings, and rejoice with them in their