In my journey following Jesus, I have met many who have been fairly certain their way of worshipping and praying is the right “way” to worship or pray and that other ways are wrong. I have also met many, and myself included, who have been frustrated as they struggled with the concept of the right “way” to pray, struggled with connecting with God, or have felt out of touch with certain forms of worship. Why, for some, does connecting with God seem so easy, but for others, it is not?
Then I found Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Pathways. The ideas Thomas presents in his book were introduced to me at a prayer retreat. They intrigued me. As soon as I returned home, I ordered the book. I further explored Thomas’ concept of Sacred Pathways and discovered that 1. I am not alone in my frustration; and 2. our frustration may stem from the misconception there is a right “way” and a wrong “way” to worship and pray.
For my struggling, frustrated traveling friends, this book is for us. It can also be for the other group, but they may have to approach it with an open mind.
Gary Thomas presents the idea that God has created each of us uniquely and in doing so, we each have a unique way of loving Him. He identifies nine different spiritual temperaments, nine pathways of connecting with God. Each of these temperaments contribute to the body of Christ and each of these temperaments, I think, teach us about the beauty and complexity of God’s heart.
As I eagerly read Thomas’ book, I quickly identified my dominate temperament. I also found that I had one or two other temperaments that were somewhat strong as well. Thomas encourages us to find comfort and confidence in worshipping God in the unique way in which He has designed us. He provides ideas to further explore worshipping God in our temperament and offers examples of others who share the temperament. Additionally, he provides cautions for the temperaments, where worship might become something destructive, lead to where our Heavenly Father did not intend. He also exhorts us to explore the other temperaments as a means to supplement our own journey on our pathway and to better understand those whose temperaments are different from our own.
The Nine Pathways are:
Naturalists – loving God out of doors
Sensates – loving God with the senses
Traditionalists – loving God through ritual and symbol
Ascetics – loving God in solitude and simplicity
Activists – loving God through confrontation
Caregivers – loving God by loving others
Enthusiasts – loving God with mystery and celebration
Contemplatives – loving God through adoration
Intellectuals – loving God with the mind
Personal note: While Thomas combines creativity with the Sensates, I would break out a tenth temperament: Creationist – loving God in creating. Whether music, art, sewing, woodworking, the written word, or any other form of creating, I think we join with our Creator in the creation process and that it, in and of itself, is another form of worship.
If you have been experiencing a dryness in your time with God, or if you have longed to have the rich spiritual walk you see others experiencing, then this book is for you. Be assured that our Heavenly Father is inviting you to experience Him in the unique way in which He has created you. Come, pray and worship, delight in the Father who delights in you.