There are many ways to read Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal on your own or in a group setting, and in the next few months, I’ll be leading two different retreats based on the book that I’m really looking forward to! Below is the experience of just one group to spark some of your own ideas. If your group is using the book or already finished, please do let me know–I’d love to hear from you, and a photo is a bonus!
I was thrilled when one of the Connection Groups in my congregation decided to use Sacred Pauses for their group meetings. They generally study a book together during the fall, then meet more informally in the months after Christmas.
To fit the book into their fall schedule, they decided to read two chapters at a time, and to take turns leading their discussion together. Given their interest as a group, for each chapter they first focused on reviewing and discussing the biblical background before moving on to other questions.
To end their series, they planned a Christmas party and invited me and my husband for appetizers, Christmas baking, and an author Q&A. Thank you to everyone for a wonderful evening!
Below is a sampling of questions from the author Q&A followed by the outline of their session on Chapter 4, Scripture.
A Little Q&A
1. How did you decide on the order of the chapters?
When the book was in the early planning stage, I thought of it as a daily personal retreat, so it was quite natural to begin with Creating Space, then Slowing Down, and Becoming Quiet before turning to other spiritual practices. I also knew that Ending Well would be important. But in between I played with the order of the chapters. Engaging Scripture needed to be early since Scripture was part of every chapter. I wanted to pair Being Alone Without Being Lonely and Valuing Relationships, Fasting and Having Fun. I worked with the chapters spread out in order on the floor, moving them around and sometimes back again as I continued to write.
2. Why is there nothing said about “daily devotions” as a spiritual practice? I see the book as a kind of toolbox for personal renewal, but the most common one is left out.
I like your description of the book as a kind of toolbox, with a variety of different spiritual practices. Having “daily devotions” is like gathering up a few of those tools and using them together on a daily basis; for me, that’s most often meant prayer, Scripture, journaling, silence. With Sacred Pauses, I wanted to move beyond those few moments at a particular time of day — to be more aware of God’s presence throughout the day, and to offer an alternative to those who might be unfamiliar with the practice of daily devotions or who were looking for something different. My post on Why I gave up on daily devotions explains some of that.
3. Why is journaling so important that it appears in almost every chapter?
Henri Nouwen has written, “Half of living is reflection on what is being lived.” I think that’s the important thing about journaling — it’s not so much about writing words on a page, but reflecting on life before God and in the spirit of prayer. It’s been significant in my own life, and I enjoy sharing the practice with others. But I also realize that journaling might not be for everyone, and there are other spiritual practices that can help us reflect personally and together.
Chapter 4, Scripture – outline by Emmanuel Denguessi
1. Was there something really significant for you in reading this chapter?
2. What is the author’s overall point?
What is your experience with Scripture?
What has been challenging for you when reading the Bible?
How have you found strength or comfort in the Bible?
How could Scripture become boring?
Do churches use the Bible well?
Check out my page of free resources for the Sacred Pauses Group Guide and how to get your free copy.
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