How goes it with your soul? What kind of answer would you like to have for that question?
Back in the 1700’s, groups of people regularly gathered to share responses to this question. They were so methodical in addressing the question, and in utilizing practices to nourish their souls, that they were derisively called “Methodists.” The name stuck and is still in use today.
There are seasons when our souls feel as deep and thriving as a wide river. And other seasons when we feel our souls are parched streams. Perhaps by adopting some of these methods, we, too, can inspire some nourishment for our souls.
How can I feed my soul?
1) Go silent
The early Methodists fasted regularly. Fasting does not simply mean giving up food. Today we might fast from social media, television, or other distracting activities. The goal of fasting is to clear out space and set a feeling of expectation. We set aside distractions or other things in expectation that God will speak a sense of nourishment and satisfaction into us.
Fasting and prayer may sound intimidating to many. And while fasting is meant to be a challenge, prayer is not. Prayer, in its simplest form, is speaking to and listening to God. It could take the form of an internal conversation. Or a pray-er could utilize a practice like Centering Prayer.
The founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, said “all who desire the grace of God are to wait for it in ‘searching the Scriptures’."1 His point is that a key means for learning about and experiencing God’s goodness is in the stories and ideas of the Bible. Reading the Bible brings us into contact with God’s story. Reading other spiritually-based books provides nourishment for the soul, too.
4) Do good for someone else
The early Methodists practiced “works of mercy” like visiting prisons and hospitals, feeding the hungry, and standing up for the oppressed. Such works uplift our souls. Identify the needs around you and look for a way in which you can interrupt the cycles of brokenness. Special feelings spring up when doing good things for those who can never repay the kindness. For some inspiration on doing good abroad, check out umcmission.org.
5) Get together
We complain that, at times, people around us drain our souls dry. But in reality, people feed our souls even more. In gathering with others we get inspired by their stories and in witnessing the acts of God in their lives. Their ideas shine light and provide nourishment for our own souls. We are especially affected by others when we join them in some of the above-mentioned activities. Give it a try! If you need some help finding some people to connect with, check out Find-a-Church.
1 Outler, Albert C., and Richard Heitzenrater, editors, John Wesley’s Sermons: An Anthology (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1991),163.
Written by Ryan Dunn, Minister of Online Engagement for Rethink Church.
[Posted April 26, 2018]