PraXis Challenge Week 3: The Spirit vs The Flesh, and the 16-Hour Fast

Why, oh why did I that last cookie…ok, last box of cookies…

Welcome to the PraXis Wellness Challenge, Week 3: The Spirit vs The Flesh
[Zoom links at the bottom of this post]

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. – Gal 5:16-17

As we said last week, the ancients saw the heart as the seat of our mind-body-spirit. And for the Apostle Paul the sarks, or “flesh” was “the seat of the Passions,” [Roman’s 8:1-3,5, Phil 3:3]. Here passion, is a term coming from Greek pathema, which means excessive reaction to what “befalls us.”  You might see the flesh as a kind of distracted, centerless source for the kind of bodily cravings that lead to addictions. The flesh is the opposite of the heart, the place where the Spirit dwells.

For this reason [the willpower of] the mind that is set on the [excesses of the] flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s [new] law [of being led by the Spirit]—indeed it cannot — Romans 8:7

Paul’s flesh vs spirit discourses are about inner conflict: a temptation to excess versus following the guidance of the Spirit. For Paul the guidance of the Spirit, is not about prescriptive religious rules, but about Christ’s new law of spiritual discernment (wisdom): the freedom to be lead directly by the Spirit. 

Fasting and discernment

Discerning what God wants for us often comes out of weighing our desires against scripture, the advice of our spiritual community, our experience, and by quieting oneself enough to hear the guidance of the Spirit that resides in our heart. Christians have often used fasting as a way to quiet the body and listen to the Spirit. Fasting also brings to the surface some of our bodily cravings that hide in our blind spots. In this way, fasting is a type of prayer, a type of silencing the flesh, that leads to hearing the Lord and helps us to bear the fruits of the Spirit [love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – Gal. 5:22-23]

This week we begin the 16- hour fast. There is a lot of research out there about intermittent fasting. This blog from Harvard Health is an easy read.  

This week’s goal is to go all week without snacking between meals and or eating between the hours of 6 pm and 10 am. Layer that on top of your plant-based diet, and we’ll see what your results are in two weeks.

The Session

Intro, reflect on the theme, offer a prayer or intention. – 5 minutes

Anyone who wishes to read may raise their hand.

John 3:6-8
What is born of the flesh is flesh, 
and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Do not be astonished that I said to you, 
‘You must be born from above [born again].’ 

The wind blows where it chooses, 
and you hear the sound of it, 
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. 
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Rise and go to your mat or prayer rug

Lectio Divina [more on lectio divina here

Romans 8:24-26
..if we hope for what we do not see, 
we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; 
for we do not know how to pray as we ought, 
but that very Spirit intercedes 
with sighs too deep for words.
  

Somatic prayer – [Sanctified yoga] 20 minutes

Flow

3 Breathe into the heart, palms together at chest
4 Sun Salutations
Forward fold
Straight back, 1/2 rise
Plank
Up Dog
Down Dog
Left foot forward lunge

3 Warrior II, 4 static breaths (left side)
Hands on hips, change feet
3 Warrior II, 4 static breaths (right side)
Hands on hips, change feet
3 Extended side-angle stretch, 4 static breaths (left side)
Hands on hips, change feet
3 Extended side-angle stretch, 4 static breaths (right side)

Mountain, 4 static breathes, hands at heart
Forward fold
Plank
Lower down to mat

3 Locust pose
3 Cobra, 4 static breathes
Down Dog

3 Floor series
Table
Child
Praise
Table
Down Dog

Plank, low down to the floor, and turn over to the back
3 Fish pose
3 Bridge pose, 4 static breaths

Repose or relaxation pose, 16 breaths or more

Come back to our seats

Noetic prayer – [Centering prayer] 20 minutes, [more on centering prayer here]

Bell rings

Open eyes: Shared silence 1 minute

Thanksgiving

Psalm 28: 7-9
Praise be to the Lord,
for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Depart and Retire to the table – 30 minutes

Tuesday, 6:30 pm, EST
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3130965380
Meeting ID: 313 096 5380

Wednesday, 6:30 pm, ESTJoin Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81453475523
Meeting ID: 814 5347 5523

Thursday 10 am, EST
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84163137582
Meeting ID: 841 6313 7582

Published by Cornelius Swart

Masters Candidate, Vancouver School of Theology

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