Slideshow image

The Art of Spiritual Practice 7/7/24

Although I wouldn’t have called it a spiritual practice at the time, I had to memorize Luther’s Small Catechism and then recite parts of it to a church council member when asked. It was our final test before being confirmed. Although, gratefully, this requirement is not longer usual in confirmation classes, it is interesting that, yes, nearly 60 years later, I still remember this from the meaning of the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord or come to him.” I didn’t really know what I was saying when I memorized that to pass confirmation. But over the years, this phrase comes back to me whenever I forget and think that my faith is dependent on what I do or control or understand.

I think saying “I can’t, You can” to God is a continual and difficult spiritual practice. To surrender oneself to the presence of God and trust in God’s ways, not our own, is something I’ve been practicing, but not perfecting, for a long time. It’s a constant remembering that although we practice our faith, in the end, there’s nothing we have to do. We are loved.  It is grace that opens our hearts and minds to a deeper walk on the spiritual path. It is the Spirit that calls us first.

Just notice when you think it’s all up to your own reason and strength. Notice when you’re trying really hard. There can be a great relief and relaxation if we can let our egos go and say simply, “I can’t. You can.”


Pastor Marcia Wakeland is a retired ELCA pastor, a spiritual director and a listening advocate. She is interested in the actual experience of having faith and how that is lived out. She can be reached at for comments or more questions Her ongoing blog of living out spiritual practices is