By JESSICA BRADFORD
“Spiritual formation is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ, a journey into becoming persons of compassion, persons who forgive, persons who care deeply for others and the world, persons who offer themselves to God to become agents of divine grace in the lives of others and their world—in brief, persons who love and serve as Jesus did.” —Robert Mulholland, "Invitation to a Journey"
Spiritual Disciplines, or formations, will be a focus of this year's Annual Conference. In short, spiritual discipline is the “regular or full-time performance of actions and activities undertaken for the purpose of inducing spiritual experiences and cultivating spiritual development.”
Spiritual disciplines include prayer, worship, fasting, scripture, study, stewardship, solitude, fellowship and service.
Rev. Shannon Karafanda, Associate Pastor of Peachtree City UMC, sets time apart for talking and listening to God daily.
“I've experienced the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer so I know it is transformational,” she said. She goes on to note that Jesus told us to pray and modeled going off to quiet places to pray and that we should follow his lead.
“There have been times in my life when I have felt helpless - like I could do nothing so I turned to prayer," said Karafanda. "Once my prayer life increased I began to understand prayer is the most important thing I can do each day.”
In addition to praying quietly, aloud, or keeping a prayer list in her personal journal, Karafanda also uses her email list as a prayer tool.
“I'll forget to write it down or someone will let me know a prayer request at the time that I can't write it down so occasionally I'll go through my contact list and pray for people," she said. "Sometimes I'll send them an email asking what I can pray for.”
She says she has been surprised at the response: “People seem to open up a bit more via email.”
Karafanda says she feels a deep connection with someone when they share a prayer request with her.
“It becomes a responsibility, a privilege to be a part of this moment in their life that means so much to them,” she said.