United Methodists encourage spiritual growth. Our heritage begins with John Wesley, a clergyman of 18th century England and the founder of the Methodist movement. Wesley taught that Christian spirituality should include “the means of grace” or “works of piety”. The means of grace included:

Centering in Prayer: Wesley encouraged daily private devotion, usually in both the morning and evening, as well as time for family or household devotions. He suggested that these prayers should include expressing: (1) love and gratitude to God, (2) regret for our failures to love and serve others, (3) telling our thoughts, feelings and requests to God, (4) intercessions for others’ needs, and (5) simply listening for what God might want to say to guide or correct us.

Searching the Scriptures: Wesley encouraged daily reading of the Scriptures. He suggested that we read the Bible seriously (with prayer), systematically (reading entire books or through the Bible), carefully (with good commentaries and scholarship), and fruitfully (immediately putting into practice what we learn). We are also urged to medidate on what we read, and to take every opportunity we can find to hear the Bible read by others in worship or small groups. Wesley asked Christians to always keep a Bible with them so they could read whenever they had time available.

Confering with Others: Methodists welcome the opportunity to “confer” or converse individually and in small groups in order to encourage one another in the spiritual life, and to help each one to be accountable for responsible discipleship.

Worship and the Lord’s Supper: Methodist Christians are encouraged to worship often, at least weekly, and to share in the Lord’s Supper or Communion as often as possible, as a means of union with Christ and with other Christians. Grace hasn’t made the turn yet, but weekly communion is a long-term goal.

Fasting: When Wesley wrote from England to the pastors in America under his care, he asked them not if they fasted, but how often they fasted. Fasting has faded from the average modern church, but abstinence and fasting are still excellent ways to deny te self and focus on God.