Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: 4 Healthy Disciplines

by: Bo Noonan

posted on: Jul 20, 2017

I recently heard Pete Scazzero, author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, say “We have Jesus in our bones, but not in our hearts.”

I find this to be a problem in my life. I’m working for Jesus, I’m serving the church, but I’m not relating to Jesus. Like any relationship we must be intentional with how we love that person and how we allow that person to love us.

Here are four disciplines that will serve us in making sure our relationship with Jesus is flourishing.

1. Solitude

A rhythm of solitude that makes time for Jesus and gives him time to work on us and in us.


We shouldn’t ignore pain, we shouldn’t skip the process of grieving and solitude will allow us the space to feel it and to be healed of it. If you are someone who stays fairly busy, this will be tough for you to engage in.

The danger of staying busy all the time is that we avoid our own souls.

We need to take the time to be alone with God, away from the pressures and noise of life.

Psalm 62:1 says, “WAIT QUIETLY BEFORE GOD.”

2. Silence

Silence is the twin of solitude.

There’s no point in being alone with God if there is a clutter of noise.

But I’m not really talking about external noise, I’m talking about internal silence. We can’t control the noise of our environment, the goal is to quiet our souls.  

Our minds jump from thought to thought; don’t forget this, I wonder if this got done, etc… This is something that needs to be practiced. Start with a goal of 2 minutes, build from there.

This is something we can do multiple times a day. We want to avoid the practice of being with God in the morning and then forgetting about Him for the rest of the day. Silence helps us realize his presence with us at work, home, and anywhere else.  

The oxygen that our soul needs is found in solitude and silence, not in being busy and accomplishing tasks. We are called to work, we are not to be lazy, but a healthy rhythm in life involves work and rest, noise and silence.

3. Contemplative Reading of Scripture

Most of our training and practice of reading in our educational systems has been for the purpose of mastering material and increasing our knowledge. Contemplative Bible reading is structured so that instead of gaining mastery of the text, we are mastered by the text. Instead of increasing our competency, we are encouraged to surrender in humility. (from The Relational Soul by Plass and Cofield)

Here’s how:

We first start with a brief prayer – The prayer is about us needing help to be present with the Bible and to be present with the Holy Spirit, the author of the scriptures.

The reading is short, not a huge chunk of scripture, a short section, that is best read out loud.

It’s also best to read the passage about 4 times. By the third and fourth time, we allow our imaginations to locate us in what we’re reading.

This allows us to read with an open heart and therefore we are pulled into God’s story.

Second, we reflect. We reflect on what we’ve read and just as importantly, we reflect on what is bubbling up in our souls.

Thirdly, we respond. It’s not a response that leads us to do something. Instead, it’s a response in prayer, asking for clarity, for illumination of what has stirred in us.

Whatever has risen to the surface, needs to be interpreted by god’s love and purpose for us.

Fourthly, rest. This is not an intellectual exercise. It’s us saying, God your story is THE story, I rest in the truth that my story is found and made whole in your story.

(Please note that we value other types of Bible study and would hope that we would utilize these skills as we seek Jesus in the scriptures.)

4. Contemplative Prayer

This is not us listing our needs to God. There is a time and a place for that, but that’s not the only type of prayer.

This is us coming home to our triune God. This is us entering into the fellowship, the conversation of heaven.

It’s being still and enjoying God’s love for us, and His heart for us.

Contemplative prayer allows us to learn of a love that is beyond words, it’s the Holy Spirit being poured into our hearts.


For the audio from this session, click here.

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