The Dallas Disciplines for Lent 

In my last post there is a video of Dallas Willard describing some of his daily spiritual disciplines:

  • he started each day by reflectively working his way through The Lord's Prayer and Psalm 23. 
  • he renewed his focus on these during the day
  • there were some days with more intensive scripture memorization and solitude
  • he had regular half day fasts
  • he had occasional full day fasts

In doing these things, Dallas was copying the example of Jesus.  Jesus fasted in the wilderness, spent solitude in the wilderness, and prayed using the themes of the Lord's prayer (John 17).  He also memorized scripture as seen in his temptation in the wilderness and by his recital of Psalm 22 when he was on the cross.

Our theme at church this year is COPY.  For us to live a with, like, and for Jesus life, we need to copy Jesus and copy people who copy Jesus.

So this Lent we are encouraging everyone in our church to spend 40 days copying Dallas who copied Jesus:
  • Start your day reflectively going through the Lord's Prayer and Psalm 23.  
    • I have been doing this for a couple of months and I have found that each day some phrase or word from either the prayer or the psalm stands out and I come back to that during the day.
  • Memorize The Lord's Prayer and Psalm 23
    • We memorize by reading passages out loud with concentration, understanding and repetition
    • If you have already memorized these two passages, you might like to spend Lent working on another passage - Mark 1 (our theme passage for the year); Col 3:1-17; or 1 Cor 13.
  • Aim to spend at least one half day alone with God - away from all distractions (people, tv, internet, phones ...)
  • If you are medically able, aim for one or two half day fasts where you skip breakfast and lunch.

Dallas found these practices very helpful for him.  In the process of copying him, we need to imitate him - do it exactly the way he did it - for a period of time so we can experience how it works.  After we have imitated him, we will then be in a strong position to try sensible and informed innovations for our own lives.

There is a tendency in our culture for us to jump straight from hearing information about what other people do to innovation without going through a period of immitation.  When we do that we tend to pick and choose from the information - copying some things and leaving other things out.  The problem with that is that we don't know from experience how all the different parts fit together and how they support and reinforce each other.  So although it can seem a bit limiting, deliberate immitation actually frees us to do wise and creative innovation.

That is why we are encouraging everyone to do these 'Dallas Disciplines' for 40 days in Lent.  You will then be a in a strong position to incorporate some or all of them into your own spiritual practices on an ongoing basis.

David Wanstall, 12/02/2018