Meditation, prayer, and reading scriptures are three tools that can help us grow spiritually. Making prayer and scripture reading become part of daily life is the first thing we can change. To seek for spiritual growth we need to live the “inner life”, in other words, to let our faith permeate our whole being, including in our private thoughts and actions.
We are used to seeking the solutions to our problems by expecting others to change, instead of ourselves changing. We tend to think ‘if I can change the outside world or have that person change or get away from the problem then my life would be all good again’. But things don’t happen that way. It ends up that we are too busy worrying about others problems instead of our own problems. As Jesus said “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” and Baha’u’llah said: “Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner.”
Practicing the inner life requires that we observe ourselves, and understanding why we think that way or what causes us to think a certain way. Because we are not use to exercising our mind that way, we need a lot of ‘practice’. We need to do daily homework through meditation, prayer and meditating on God’s Words. By doing inward observation exercises, the way we look at things starts to change as we understand ourselves better. By praying for God’s help, we call upon the Holy Spirit for strength. When our inner life changes, our world changes too. Our world changes not because everyone around us changes, but because our mind changes, the way we look at the world changes. The whole world can change if everybody practices the inner life. Baha’u’llah said “The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct.” Along the path to make that happen, we can each make our “inner” world change first, which can help bring us inner peace.
When I started, the time I was able to use these three tools was limited. I needed a place where I could isolate myself from outside noise. But through daily practice, I was able to do it more frequently and the location and time was not an issue anymore. When we are able to pray and commune with God anytime we have available and anywhere we like, then we start to really live the “inner life”. How soon that can happen really depends on how much we want to do it. It is not about how much time we spend, it is more about how often we come back to God and be aware that we can pray to God and ask for His assistance. As our outlook changes we are excited by what new discoveries we have and want to learn more.
For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. （Isaiah 30:15)