Do Things the Hard Way
Physically getting into shape requires pushing yourself. You must set a goal beyond what you are capable of. This involves discomfort, but every athlete is aware of it and serious competitors are ready to pay the price.
Parenting requires sacrifice. Each woman who has borne a child knows the pain involved. Yet generation after generation of mothers and fathers commit their lives to their children. At the end of the road lies real fulfillment.
Anyone involved in the creative process knows that the quality of the product is directly proportional to the effort involved. For this reason artists, poets, performers (and others) will pour themselves into their work before they are satisfied with the result.
With most of life’s endeavors, you get out what you put in.
Why should your spiritual life be any different?
The answer is obvious. It is not different. Throughout history seekers continually rediscover that spiritual lives are more rewarding when they make a personal investment of time and effort.
An example of this is found in the Religious Society of Friends (more commonly known as Quakers). A good portion of Quaker congregations are unprogrammed. That is, no minister, pastor or preacher organizes their service. The participants gather in silence. In the silence they might pray, or privately contemplate spiritual matters. But the real goal of Quaker Worship is to empty yourself and wait for a message from God.
It is harder than one might imagine. Simply sitting still for an hour can be a challenge. You get bored. The mind wanders. But silence is fertile ground for real seeking. And we have been promised that those who seek, find. Rewards for waiting in the silence will be in the form of peace, understanding or even words directly from God.
The work does not end there. Those who receive a divine understanding or message must be ready to share it. This means breaking the silence, standing and speaking out loud that which has been given. Called Vocal Ministry, it is comparable to the sermons offered by ministers and preachers of other denominations. But a message given in Quaker Worship has not been pre-prepared; it is an immediate revelation.
There is no guarantee that every Meeting for Worship will result in a profound religious experience, nor that every worshiper will come away inspired from every meeting. But spiritual experiences are far from uncommon. When they occur, they are authentic. It is why Quakers say that they “know the Truth experimentally” (or experientially). Robert Barclay (a first generation Quaker theologian) summarized his experience this way:
“... when I came into the silent assemblies of God's people, I felt a secret power among them, which touched my heart, and as I gave way unto it, I found the evil weakening in me, and the good raised up...”
So if you are a seeker of Truth, consider a Quaker Meeting for Worship. If you are faithful, you will find that you get more out of it than you put in. It is not easy, but it is not supposed to be.