‘Spiritual disciplines are not magic’

Author/pastor helps cultivate spiritual practices

July 23, 2014 | Feature | Volume 18 Issue 15
Evelyn Rempel Petkau, Manitoba Correspondent

“It only takes a scrap of time to turn to God.” April Yamasaki shared this anonymous piece of 14th-century wisdom in her “Cultivating spiritual disciplines” workshop at Assembly 14.

Sometimes it feels like a scrap of time is all people have, but that can be turned into a sacred pause, she told a roomful of participants.

She shared some important and helpful aspects she has learned in turning that scrap of time into a sacred moment. When she visits someone she will take time to pause in the car for a moment of silence to think about that person and bring them before God in prayer. Or before rushing to the next thing, it can be the simple practice of taking a conscious breath while praying the Jesus prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”

A sacred pause might be a few seconds or an entire weekend. What they have in common, she said, is attentiveness to God and being aware of those places where God is present.

Practice is also important. “Depth can come to the spiritual discipline as we repeat it,” Yamasaki said. “We don’t pray just once. And be patient with your practices even if you think it isn’t working. Accept that today you feel restless. Let it go and try again another time. Spiritual disciplines are not magic.”

“Sometimes I wonder where accountability comes in with social media,” she said. “The constant buzz can work against us, but I’ve been tweeting a Bible verse a day and this has led me to read the entire Bible through in one year. I read until I find a word to put on my Twitter. I have never read the Bible so consistently before.”

“When have you taken time in the past week to be attentive to God?” she asked participants. “When in the past week did you fail to realize God and what were the barriers?”

It became a sacred pause when silence filled the room and participants began to confess those barriers and release them to God.

To see links to more Assembly content, go to Stories and images of Assembly 2014. 

See more about April Yamasaki's book, Sacred Pauseshere.

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