Throughout the history of the Christian tradition, one of the central activities of Christian people has been to deepen their relationship with God. Part of that deepening has been setting apart time in one’s life to work on that relationship – to take time to be intentional in exploring God’s love for us and our love for God.

From the early church on, followers of Jesus have identified many spiritual practices that have helped to facilitate that process. They understood that these activities, when done with intention, could become practices that not only help us draw closer to God, but also live out the “Great Commandment,” central to Jesus’ teaching and life: “Love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind… and love your neighbour as you love yourself” (Matthew 26:37, 39-40).

We have chosen to concentrate on six spiritual practices out of a much larger list. Our reasoning is not that you can’t handle all of them, but that it is best to start with a reasonable number and work up from there. The U.N.I.T.E.D. practices are what we consider to be the best ones to start with; the most bang for the buck, you might say.

The reality is that very few of Christ’s disciples live out all of these “spiritual practices of discipleship” all the time. It’s easy to start feeling guilty and discouraged whenever we get off track in our prayer or worship life, or aren’t “doing” our faith as much as we’re talking about it. Let’s agree this Lent to give up the guilt, blame or self-recrimination, and just take the time now. And if we miss a few days here and there, we will take God up on God’s standing offer for us to start again, and again, and again.