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  • Writer's pictureKaisa

Nurturing 10 Active Spiritual Habits

Updated: Jan 22, 2020

The start of the new year allures many of our imaginations with new possibilities. Excellent books have been written about the power of intention, spiritual disciplines, ordered life, habits of effective people, the rule of life, and the list goes on. I know that for some of us this creates anxiety and pressure rather than a sense of excitement and freedom. If you belong to the first group of people, give yourself space. For those of you who like to reflect and set new goals and intentions for the year ahead, here is another lens through which you can explore some of your desires and the kinds of spiritual habits you might feel drawn to nurture this year, and in the years to come.

Nature of Spirituality Spirituality is both a natural, inherent part of all humans, and also developed through nurturing, or impeded due to neglect. In her book "Children's Spirituality: What It Is And Why It Matters" Rebecca Nye writes the following when she talks about spiritual development of children, ⁣ ⁣

“The long-term view invites us to notice habits that might be developing much more slowly, shaping the child’s lifelong spiritual attitude. This could be children’s inclination to wonder, to think reflectively or to value thinking for themselves — all active rather than passive spiritual habits.” ⁣ ⁣

I am intrigued by her language of active spiritual habits. For a long time, I only associated words such as "development", "growth", "practices", "exercises", and "disciplines" to one's spiritual deepening. In contrast, I mostly associated the word “habit” with negative behaviors. For example, I don’t think I ever said, “I have a nice habit of noticing the beauty around me.” ⁣But after reading Nye's book I became curious about reimagining habits in the context of nurturing my and other’s life with God.

Since I am a firm believer in the theology of childhood (“... unless you change and become like little children" Matt. 18:3), I compiled a list of ten active spiritual habits that are all natural expressions of children’s inherent spirituality. ⁣My list is by no means all-encompassing, neither are the habits listed here in any order of priority. The list is simply a resource. It is also a guide for me when I design my tactile prayer tools and workshops. While there are a hundred other habits that I could include, this list shows you what kinds of things you can expect my resources to reflect, and aim to foster in the ones who engage them.


Here is an introduction to the habits and a few ideas how to nurture each habit.

1. Gratitude

"When we give thanks, we are telling the truth about ourselves, if only in part. In our appreciation, we admit that something matters so much to us that we can’t let it slip by without recognition. So giving thanks is deeply personal and revelatory." — Jennifer Willhoite from CobbleWorks. (Read the full post here.)


  • Spend time in nature. Immersing ourselves in something beautiful and beyond ourselves helps to gain perspective and evoke gratitude.

  • Start the day by reflecting on things that you are and have versus the things you lack and wish to become.


One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

2. Presence

"Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It is, rather, a stance. It's a way of living in the Presence."⁣ ⁣ ― Richard Rohr⁣ ⁣


  • Try doing something new. Or practice doing a familiar task as if it's your first time doing it, slowly and curiously, really taking in the experience. Try especially activities that engage multiple senses and allow you to create something.

  • Take a slow walk and engage in the Prayer of Simple Regard (an example prayer guide can be found here.)

  • Prepare food with in season and local ingredients. Wear season appropriate clothing and minimize the use of heating and air conditioning.

Read: The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

3. Awareness

"Ignorance is bliss — except in self-awareness. What you don't know about yourself can hurt you and your relationships — and maybe even how you make your way in the world. It can also keep you in the shallows with God." ⁣ ⁣ — Ian Morgan Cron, The Road Back to You⁣ ⁣


  • Use various versions of the prayer of the Examen to heighten your awareness of God, self and others. Some examples are my Peace Beads and Jennifer's