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Spiritual Practices: Faith

Hardened heart, Difficulties

The Basic Practice

Faith defined as an acceptance of certain religious doctrines is an essential element in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is an attitude of devotion that opens a gateway to spiritual practice.

In the broad scope of the spiritual life, we see faith not as something you have but as something you are in — a relationship. It involves an awareness of and an attunement to God's presence in our everyday experiences.

Practicing faith, then, is like developing any relationship. You have to give it time and attention. It requires you to see, hear, feel, and constantly remember your partner — God. Have confidence in the relationship's viability, even when you are facing mysteries, doubts, and paradoxes. Trust in this faith, even to the point of staking your life on it.

Why This Practice May Be For You

Many people assume that the chief challenges to faith are disbelief and doubt, but the real stumbling block to faith is resistance to God or the hardened heart. In the Biblical traditions, the heart is used as an image for the deeper self, the true and total person. The hard heart is not open to the sacred. It is similar to eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear.

Difficulties can be catalysts to faith. During a dark night of the soul, sometimes all we can do is trust that this, too, will pass. Facing illness, death, or the myriad other challenges in our lives, we are strengthened by the knowledge that a Greater Power watches and waits with us. In the long run, it's the relationship that matters.


Resources on This Practice