Spiritual formation is the growth and development of the whole person by an intentional focus on one's:
- (1) spiritual and interior life,
- (2) interactions with others in ordinary life, and
- (3) the spiritual practices (prayer, the study of scripture, fasting, simplicity, solitude, confession, worship, etc.).
In Care of Mind, Care of Spirit, Gerald G. May has written,
“Spiritual formation is a rather general term referring to all attempts, means, instruction, and disciplines intended towards deepening of faith and furtherance of spiritual growth. It includes educational endeavors as well as the more intimate and in-depth process of spiritual direction.”
Spiritual formation is a universal experience. Dallas Willard writes that “it is a process that happens to everyone. Errorists as well as saints are the outcome of spiritual formation. Their spirits or hearts have been formed.”
A study of various world religions, such as:
- Confucianism, and
and others, would enable one to understand, specifically, how each religion views spiritual formation or spiritual growth within its unique belief system.
Christian Spiritual Formation
In Christian Spiritual Formation the focus is on Jesus. It is a life-long process as a believer desires to become a disciple of Jesus and become more like Him. This would be possible because of divine grace and the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. Dallas Willard writes that:
“spiritual formation for the Christian basically refers to the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself.”