Spiritual Practice


Craig Mitchell

Do you remember learning to walk? I doubt it. Believe me, you tried. And you fell flat on your face. Ouch! Then you tried again.

Imagine having to learn to walk again. It’s hard work! After a few days in the hospital for a knee replacement, I’m at home learning how to use my legs. Like a toddler, I don’t have real control of my muscles. Ouch! So it’s back to basics. Bend and stretch. Fail and try again. I have a daily exercise regimen and a demanding physiotherapist who pushes me—apparently for my own good.

walking together-jon-tyson-520825-unsplashTo be a disciple is to learn to walk with Jesus—to walk like Jesus—to follow wherever he might lead, to pay attention to what he says and does, to begin to imitate his moves—his compassion, his challenge, his forgiveness, his strength.

In the Gospels we see an unlikely group of people learn to follow Jesus. They spend three years learning to walk a new way. Though they start with baby steps, they often don’t understand. Jesus’ lessons stretch them and even hurt at times. Yet falling and trying again, they discover new muscles of faith, wisdom, and mercy.

The word disciple means “apprentice,” one who learns to copy the Master. As disciples of Christ, we seek to put shoes in his footprints, to remember his wise words, to mirror his acts of blessing. To be a disciple is to be someone who walks with the Teacher—sometimes beside, sometimes behind, and at times sent on ahead with a task.

Disciples need discipline, daily practice in learning how to walk. Bend and stretch. Watch and wait. Listen and learn. Seek and serve.

Cross with Sun FTR TS100548287Lent is a time of discipline. For six weeks we follow the path of Jesus to the Cross, remembering that his disciples did the same. The path of Jesus is uncomfortable for us in many ways. He takes us to places we would rather not go. He introduces us to people we would rather not meet. Along this path, we spend time exercising our minds, hearts, and bodies.

How might you learn to walk in the Way of Jesus during Lent? What practices might stretch your attention to his words, his character, his purpose? How might you put your feet into his footprints, even as stumbling baby steps?


Here are some ways to exercise your heart, mind, soul, and body during Lent. To learn to walk in the Way of Jesus, try one or more of these spiritual disciplines each week, every few days, or even daily.

  • Slow down. Take five minutes each day to sit, breathe deeply, and be calm. You might use the Centering Prayer app to guide you through a time of silent prayer (
  • Notice. Find a visual sign of God’s presence in your day. Take a photo on your phone.
  • Listen. Try lectio divina. Meditate on a Bible passage; listen for God’s voice in the text.
  • Pay attention. Focus on your feet and where they take you each day. Stop sometimes, and say a prayer about what is around you.
  • Be present. Find time to unplug and to be with and listen to your family and friends.
  • Create. Make something as an act of prayer. You might knit, play music, sculpt, or build.
  • Volunteer. Find a local service opportunity to engage in each week.
  • Reflect. Practice the Prayer of Examen each day. The Examine app can help you review the highs and lows and learn from your day (
  • Write. Start a daily journal about your thoughts and feelings during Lent.
  • Talk. Find a conversation partner to meet with during Lent. Talk and pray together about your faith journeys.
Craig Mitchell is a writer, educator, and former youth minister from South Australia. He looks forward to being able to ride a bicycle again soon!

—from devozine (March/April 2019). Copyright © 2010 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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