What is Spiritual Formation?
Spiritual formation is the process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father.
The work of spiritual formation occurs as individuals come to experience God in a personal, tangible way that brings about a holistic shift, transforming every aspect of the human life. The focus in spiritual formation is the recognizing and responding to the divine invitations in the everyday life of an individual. Fermata Ministries is built on the pastoral conviction that God is already actively involved in all people's lives, but individuals must learn to look up and respond to the work of God as the work of discipleship. The product of this process is primarily one of surrender and submission to the active work of the Holy Spirit.
The result of a spiritually formed life includes right beliefs (orthodoxy), right emotions (orthopathy), and right action (orthopraxy). As these areas of life are ordered and integrated under the work of the Holy Spirit, it produces increased peace (shalom) as individuals live in harmony in sync with the will of God.
One of the important ways that spiritual formation is achieved is through spiritual direction. Spiritual Direction is the practice of companioning individuals or groups as they deepen their relationship with God. Spiritual directors work with directees to help them listen and respond to the invitation from the Holy Spirit as they grow in spiritual maturity. The goal of spiritual direction is to create a safe, sacred space where an individual or group can discern the will of God, and be equipped through prayer and other contemplative practices as a means of grace to live faithfully to the call of God in everyday life.
The person seeking direction shares stories of his or her encounters with God, or how he or she is cultivating a life attuned to spiritual things. The director listens and asks questions to assist the directee in his or her process of reflection. Spiritual direction focuses on the directee’s personal experience, not focusing on theological training, but intimacy with God. Some consider spiritual direction as a “sacred space for the soul.”
Classical spiritual direction consists of three simple practices: to be with someone, to listen to them and to help them pray. In addition, people seeking direction commit themselves to a daily spiritual practice (not necessarily praying each day) that draws them closer to God, creating awareness of how God has moved, is moving, and may move in their lives. The emphasis is on who you are becoming, rather than asking what are you achieving.
Spiritual direction is not about specific theology or ideology. It focuses on the directee’s personal experience which is shaped by their particular life story and embodied in their unique personality. A director helps a directee reflect on what they are experiencing as they encounter God in their daily lives — through prayer, creation, desires, thoughts, and relationships with others.