Three Spheres of Spiritual Life
Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg
Our spiritual life can be divided into three principal spheres: praise, prayer, and performance.
Praise is a form of love. It’s us telling God how much we love Him and how thankful we are for all He does for us. So when we turn our attention from the business of the day to focus on the spiritual and the needs of our spirit, what is the first thing we should do? Praise God for His goodness. “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4). Praise opens a channel to the heavenly realm.
Praise benefits both parties. Not only does God love praise, but praising Him puts things in proper perspective for us as well. When we pause to consider God’s love and all that He’s already done for us, it changes our outlook; it clears our mind, relieves stress, and refreshes our spirit—and the benefits don’t stop there. We don’t just praise our way to peace of mind, body, and spirit; we also praise down more tangible blessings of God in the form of answers to our prayers. The blessings come down as the praises go up!
Some people only pray when they need something from God. They tell Him all their problems and what they want from Him, and they try to push their program on God without ever giving Him a chance to say a word—except they hope that when they get done, He will say yes to whatever it is they’re asking Him for. But prayer is meant to be much more than that.
Prayer is two-way communication with God, the means by which we connect and converse and commune heart to heart with Him. Like the loving Father He is, God takes a personal interest in us and wants to be involved in our daily life. He knows that we have questions and problems, and He wants to give us answers and solutions. He wants to speak to us through His written Word as we prayerfully read it, and He wants to speak personal words of love and encouragement directly to our mind. Most of all, He wants us to know how much He loves us.
What matters most in prayer is not how we position our body, but how we position our heart. We don’t have to get down on our knees or close our eyes or bow our head or fold our hands to pray, although all of those are ways of showing God due respect. They also can help close out other thoughts and distractions. The point is to focus on the Lord.
There are more ways to pray than you probably ever imagined. Prayers can be long or short, silent or spoken or sung. Some prayers don’t even need words. Prayers can be fun, off-the-cuff exchanges, or hallowed, formal veneration. They can be spontaneous, carefully planned, or written. Write them yourself, or take them from the Bible (many prayers can be found in the book of Psalms) or a devotional book. They can be for yourself or others. They can be prayed in private or with others. They can be simple acknowledgments of your need for the Lord’s blessing as you go about your routine, or they can be earnest petitions for His guidance as you tackle the seemingly impossible. They can be happy, thankful praises, or impassioned prayers of repentance from a broken and contrite heart. They can be prayed on your knees or on the go. The ways to pray are as many and varied as your needs. Whichever way you choose, the point is that it’s a personal expression of your heart to God—it’s making a connection.
The more we make prayer a part of our everyday thought pattern, the more in tune and in touch with God we’ll be, the better He will be able to guide our lives, and the happier we’ll be.
Praise and prayer bring us closer to God and put us in position to get His guidance and help in matters both big and small, but there’s another key to a healthy spiritual life: doing what He tells us to do. “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:23-25)
A big part of putting spirituality into practice is sharing God’s love with others. Jesus told His closest followers, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). He says this still to His followers of today, calling them to give their lives daily in loving concern and care for others, to share His heart and love with those who are seeking for “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Let prayer flow through you as naturally and automatically as your heart beats and your lungs breathe. Then you will have discovered the full, dynamic power of prayer.
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