Spiritual Practices

What are spiritual practices?  What are some that Friends use?


Collected From an Open Online Survey
7/20/09 – 7/24/09


What are spiritual practices?  What are some that Friends use? Spiritual practices are regular activities that an individual or group undertakes because they are good in themselves and because they contribute to the individual’s growth in communion with God.  Corporate, written responses to Queries corporately, and regular lectio divina or examen, are examples of practices commonly used by Friends in North Carolina Conservative.

-Lloyd Lee Wilson – Rich Square Monthly Meeting, NCYM(C)


A regular devotional practice during the week–between meetings–is helpful for me, and common in my branch of Friends.  This may be corporate or individual.

A popular devotional series I find in many meetings is reading something like “the Upper Room.” This has scripture, thoughtful text, and prayer suggestions.

I think the purpose is to get to know gigantic God better through scripture, prayer, and the stories of others.  For me, it makes me more grounded as I trudge through the day, striving to uncover the Light in myself and in others.

I also am very interested in fasting right now, which I know some Friends do.

-Anonymous, North Carolina Yearly Meeting (FUM


Practices that maintain a sense that there is more than just the material world and immediate time. Going slow and having silence. Being patient.

-An Anonymous Attender


Spiritual practices are anything that allows a person to be in touch with that which is eternal.Friends use silence, but not just being quiet.  Calming your body and your mind allows a greaterawareness of the spiritual.  [other Friends use LOTS of other things as spiritual practices.  I hope they answer the question, too.

-Liz, Savannah Friends Meeting


Gym workouts for your soul muscles.

Reading the Bible or other inspirational books. Meditating alone. Periods of prayer or seeking to pray without ceasing.

-Anonymous, Brooklyn Meeting


Some friends use vocal prayer, others use silent worship (Meditation or some other form). The goal of spiritual practices are to gain insight and\or a sense of spiritual grounding

-P.W. – FGC QUAKER from Madison W


Spiritual practices are ways of bringing our whole selves — head, heart, body, spirit — closer to a God which is both beyond and within all these things.  Spiritual practices involve letting go of egoand circumstance together with expectant waiting for spiritual surprise.  The “letting go” piece can take many forms and Friends draw on a range of traditions — silence, meditation, sacred reading,poetry, music, art, chants — but generally recognize that the “letting go” is not an end in itself but an opportunity for the Spirit to settle and surprise

-Ken Haase, Beacon Hill Meeting, NEYM


All kinds of stuff can be a spiritual practice.  There is much to be said for discipline, however, the root of discipleship.  To discipline oneself to carry through with a spiritual practice even if it is not cool, fun or convenient all the time can yield serious results.

One good spiritual practice is that of daily sabbath.  Quakers have eschewed the Sabbath practiceas one day out of the week on the grounds that all times and places are holy.  (Based on the theology that the Second Coming as come, and is in-breaking in the world in all times and places since the crucifixion.)   But the Sabbath is about down time, connection, appreciation of gifts,forgiveness of debts, reconciliation of conflict, allowing the Earth to rest, etc.  How might we live in a Sabbath way at all times, even during “work”?

Orthodox Jews are enjoined to have ‘marital relations’ on the Sabbath.  This might be a good startto   a   daily   practice   of  Sabbath.     Do   we   experience   sexual   expression   as   a   sacrament,   ascommunion?  Do we do so on a regular basis, perhaps twice daily, as a spiritual discipline, whetherit is cool, fun, convenient, or not? How might we order our lives around this practice, andencourage others to do likewise?

-Carl Magruder, Pacific Yearly Meeting


Discernment, including in Meeting for Business, is certainly one — waiting for, trusting in the presence of Spirit, the availability of real help. Patience when the answer doesn’t come right away.Recourse   to   collective   prayer   and   seeking,   when   individual   clarity   is   needed   and   seems unavailable. Acceptance of guidance when it is clear, even if it leads in a direction that the worldly mind would not indicate. Silencing of inner chatter in all of these — that’s really hard! and cannot be achieved by straining.

-Anonymous, Cambridge Meeting, NEYM


Spiritual practices are the techniques we use to seek, find and abide in the Spirit.  I was raised as a Catholic, and reciting the rosary was a spiritual practice.  As a Friend, regular attendance at worship is a primary practice.  Reading spiritual works, then spending time considering what I have read is another practice.  A deep practice for me is to be silent in the forest, especially if I am in contact with the Earth.

-Donna Beckwith – Perry City, NYYM


Activity that I use to deepen relationship with God.  One support I use is a Night Office written for Quakers

-Anonymous, New Bedford Monthy Meeting


Spiritual practices are actions to bring one closer to God.

Friends pray, meditate, read, walk, hike, run, bicycle, sit with cat on lap as I am now.

Life can be a spiritual practice if one focuses on life with God. (Personally not successful at this but I do know some Friends who are much closer.

-Nancy McLauchlan, Bridge City Meeting, North Pacific Yearly Meeting


Queries are one of the greatest Quaker gifts to humanity.

Posing a query lifts something out of a knee-jerk, pro/con reaction and holds it in a Light that can probe assumptions, look at different points of view, and measure against stated values.Unfortunately, in practice, Friends can either raise a query as a gentle-seeming means of assertingan agenda/dissent/over-my-dead-body opposition, or accuse each other of doing the same. It can seem like a non-violent battle using queries as weapons.

Answering such queries in honesty and humility can diffuse hostility, shed Light, and raise different queries.

The best query I ever heard is: “what is the question that you hope does not get asked?”



The most important practice is “worship”–to rest in the awareness of the Divine within and around us. We are enjoined to live our lives in a simplicity that allows daily time for this practice.

-Gail Eastwood, Southern Humboldt Worship Group, Pacific YM