Many people thirst for spiritual life with God, yet all too often we overlook this yearning or simply neglect to care for the soul. During the current season of Lent, a six-week season of spiritual renewal before Easter, how can a person refresh and renew their inner life? Here are my top five habits of the heart.

1. SING: “Beautiful music”, wrote Martin Luther, “is one of the most magnificent and delightful gifts God has given us.” Few other gifts move the human heart as deeply as beautiful music. Every 1st and 3rd Sunday, at 7PM, at Community Presbyterian Church in Cannon Beach, we enjoy Taizé Worship, a candlelight service of singing, Psalms and silence, styled after the Taizé Community in France (see

2. PRAY: “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God.” (Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God). Like all habits of the heart, prayer grows through practice, through conversing with God in our hearts through the day, while walking on the beach or sipping coffee in the morning (photo above is courtesy of Thomas Robinson at

3. MEDITATE: “My soul finds rest in God alone” (Psalm 62:1). Through the heart habit of meditation, our soul returns again to our resting place in God. Meditation may include soaking in the beauty of God’s creation, writing in a personal journal, or opening to the Psalms or one of the Gospels to meditate upon the prayers and wisdom found in Scripture.

4. RETREAT: Getting away from our regular pattern of living can help our heart find refreshment. I love to get away on spiritual retreat for a few days of silence and solitude each year. I retreat to a Benedictine monastery nearest our home. For more information on Benedictine spiritual life, visit

5. GIVE: There are thousands of creative ways to give help to others. Mother Teresa was known to say, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” A wonderful heart habit is helping hungry people around the world or right in your local town or village. Love your neighbor by supporting a local food pantries in your city or region.

This article was first published as the “Take Five” column in the Daily Astorian paper, Astoria, Oregon, March 12, 2009.