How To Be A Modern Monk
Practicing the Ways of Jesus In A Modern World
The past few years have made it seem like our world has lost its way. Our culture is like a tree without roots, a house without a foundation, or a boat without a rudder. We desire stability, transformation, direction, and a healthy personality. We desire to live full, overflowing lives. Let’s go on a journey and discover some ancient practices that can produce change from the inside out.
In our modern world, we have removed many ancient practices that build robust human beings. Is there a better way to live? Is there a practice that could lead us to wholeness? When we begin to think about monks, we may imagine shaved heads, robes behind cloistered walls, and individuals living their monk life, out of sync with our modern-day lives and practices. How can their practice affect our lives?
The word monastery, or monk, comes from the word mono, which means singular. Meaning, we have one focus and a singular purpose: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” PSALM 27:4
How can we, with our relationships, jobs, cellular technology, and twenty-four hours a day seven days a week news cycles become cloistered? We're not going to become modern monks to become isolated and escape the world, but to become reshaped and recreated so that we can begin to help change the world. This is what being a modern monk is about: finding the rhythms of grace in the practices of Jesus in our modern world.
God will bless the advancements of our world, yet if these advances replace ancient eternal practices, they will be void of their power to shape and build people and culture. Simply put, what God blesses as a supplement he will not bless as a substitute. A modern monk who practices the ways of Jesus in a modern world will experience an out-of-this-world life, meaning we will have miraculous quality throughout the seasons of our lives. The monastic approach to living is a daily guide to miracles. The monastic heart and mind produce divine intervention. Our world needs divine influence and eternal practices to guide us to the safe harbor of robust living.
The Modern Monk: Balancing Monastic Traditions and Contemporary Living
The Essential Role of Monks Throughout History
Monks have played an important role throughout history; they have been keepers of truth, the holders of tradition, the stewards of academia and higher thought, and examples in focus and faith.
The teachings of various priests and Buddhist monks notwithstanding, monks live lives marked by order, healthy manual labor, and asceticism.
Choir Monks to Lay Brothers: The Many Faces of Western Monasticism
Throughout history, monks and monastic orders have taken many forms. Some focus on scholarly pursuits, some take vows of silence and seek to find God, peace, and rest through solitude and quiet contemplation. Some monks live to serve others—reaching out to the outside world to assist local people groups and impact society in various ways.
Though largely misunderstood by the general population, members of monastic communities are generally respected for their service and devotion to their calling. Their communities are usually highly structured and can include the offices of novice, abbot, priest, and monk. Nuns and choir monks are also common in a monastic community.
What Does the Life of a Monk Look Like Today?
Understanding Mindfulness Through the Lens of a Buddhist Monk
Buddhist monks place great importance on mindfulness, or focus. Focusing on the right thing, the good things, feeds the soul and facilitates communion with the Father. The biblical passages Philippians 4:8 (“Think on these things…”) and the many admonitions to meditate on the Lord in the Psalms speak of how ordering the mind enhances faith.
Taking a Cue from Catholic Monks: The Art of Purposeful Living
Catholic monks are known for their commitment to godly contemplation and observance of holy orders. Entire daily routines are ordered—marked by praying with passion, rising early each morning, abstaining from food (fasting), reading Scripture, and striving to obey Christ.
Though well-intended, some monasteries and monastic orders have been criticized for being too isolated from the outside world—thus violating the be in the world but not of the world admonition of Christ.
Embracing the Monastic Life: A Guide for the Modern Seeker
Though there are theological issues that warrant pause, aspects of a monastic life do have a place in the lives of followers of Christ today. A few observations follow:
Stepping into Grace: The Miracle of the Monastery in Modern Times
Lay people can find value in embracing the best aspects of a monastic life. Following Jesus’ example of rejecting material possessions, seeing that each day begins with prayer, seeking rest on the Sabbath, fasting, prayer, solitude, being a person of service, and continually seeking God are fine steps to grow in the faith.
Some contend that as believers today seek to obey Christ and embrace the concepts of peaceful contemplation of the things of God, they can experience more peace and see God’s glory in many aspects of everyday life.
Cultivating Divine Presence: The Heart of a Modern Monk
Most monastic communities stress discernment and the art of pausing referred to as statio. Meaningful discernment is not an activity, but a lifestyle, built on prayer, rest, meditation, and time spent in quiet reflection. The discipline is sometimes referred to as lectio divina, which means to reflect on spiritual matters and engage in spiritual disciplines to discern truth and the right path.
Practicing statio is to recognize the God-ordained rule of rest and focus between activities. In statio, a person can seek peace through intentional pauses throughout the day, during which one prays for guidance and the ability to obey Christ.
As time is spent on pursuing these disciplines with passion, the body and mind conform to the will of Christ (Romans 12:1-2).
Prayer: The Soul’s Conversation with God
It is said the soul is poor when the soul does not pray. Prayer is a foundational personal discipline for the believer in Christ. Through prayer, the Church is made strong, and the soul is revived. Through prayer, one honors God and joins those who seek to grow in the faith and honor God with their life.
Corporate and intercessory prayer is a hallmark of every monastic community.
Unlocking Wisdom Through Spiritual Reading
Through lectio, meditation, oratio, and contemplation, one learns to rest, focus, the art of meditation and contemplation, and finds important spiritual truths illuminated in the Word. A monk-like focus and self-discipline deepen one’s faith.
Silence, Stillness, Solitude: Nurturing the Inner Monk
Fasting, stillness, solitude, celibacy, and asceticism, can aid in nurturing a heightened awareness and understanding of God. Many who were poor in spirit before embracing these principles report being renewed as they begin to hear God more distinctly and see His working more clearly.
Living by Faith: The Cornerstone of Monastic Life
Embracing holy orders and experiencing ordination as a monk or priest is not necessary to benefit from the practices and disciplines monks have refined throughout history. When we refine our focus, live in the moment, seek solace for the soul, maintain our temple (our body), and strive to obey Christ, then our lives find purpose, and our vow to live for and grow in Christ finds meaning.
Letting our minds conform to the mind of Christ (Romans 12:1) allows us to experience the joy of Christ (John 10:10), and experience heaven and love, the more excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31).
Obedience: The Monk’s Path to Trust and Surrender
Paul wrote that he worked to “keep control of my body, and bring it into subjection” (1 Cor. 9:27). Here, Paul advocated what Monks later called embracing obedience. Growing in this area shields from stress from the outside world and aids in building and maintaining relationships with lay brothers and sisters in the faith. With a mono (a root word tied to the teachings in monasteries) or singular focus, the wise strive to better serve and interact with their community.
Embracing Fasting: A Powerful Monastic Practice
Depriving oneself of food (fasting) and using that time for fruitful contemplation often results in surprising benefits. Prayers and focus are energized, and life is enhanced when the body and mind are properly balanced and focused.
The Practice of Sacrifice and Generosity: A Monk's Response to Jesus
Generosity—particularly to the poor—is a mark of spiritual maturity. When we focus on God and others and live to serve God and others, we find that sleep is enhanced, and peace and satisfaction abound. The humble and generous before God will be exalted by God.
Building a Spiritual Community
Though monastics prioritize solitude, they also value the community and often join monastic orders and live in monastic communities. Shared meals (such as breakfast), manual labor, and spiritual pursuits heighten feelings of belonging, safety, and purpose.
Living in the World as a Modern Monk: A Journey of Hospitality and Friendship
Though monks place high personal and spiritual standards upon themselves, their outlook toward others is marked by love and grace. Giving alms, encouraging prayers, and support to others are common ways to engage with the world and model biblical hospitality.
Demystifying Monastic Vows: Their Relevance in Today’s World
Monastic vows often are based on the Three Pillars: Obedience, Poverty, and Celibacy. These voluntarily embraced lifestyle choices assist many with maintaining a strong focus on the work and call of Christ. The wise view these sacrificial commitments as an offering, not as penance.
Joining the Path: How to Become a Modern Monk
There are different monastic orders, but all emphasize focus, asceticism, peace, and intense focus on hearing, seeing, serving, and drawing close to God. The pursuit of the spiritual over material possessions and things of the world are qualities all people of faith should adopt.
1. Modern Monk - THE MIRACLE OF THE MONASTERY
Practicing the ways of Jesus in a modern world infuses our lives with the rhythms of grace. The practices of Jesus become a daily guide to miracles in the student’s life. We will be miraculously transformed, become a little lower than the angels, and our lives will be filled with God's glory, might, and honor.
2. Modern Monk - PRESENCE
Spiritual formation is not a random exercise but one that involves discernment and discipline of recognizing and practicing the personally felt presence of God that is life-changing. There is no believer, leader, or monk without the presence of God and without the believer, there is no presence. The student will learn how to practice STATIO, the moments between the moments.
3. Modern Monk - PRACTICE OF PRAYER
EM Bounds said, “To Live Well We Must Pray Well.” The student will begin to meet God and people in a new way in the place of prayer. Prayer is the glue that holds us together and the power that brings about transformation.
4. Modern Monk - PRACTICE OF SPIRITUAL READING
We will discover the ancient art of spiritual reading through the practice of LECTIO, MEDITATIO, ORATIO, AND CONTEMPLATIO. Spiritual reading will develop within the student deep confidence in Jesus and boldness to follow His ways daily.
5. Modern Monk - SILENCE, STILLNESS, SOLITUDE AND DIVINE GUIDANCE
We live in an overstimulated, over-busy, and over-noisy world. The student will learn silence, stillness, and solitude for the purpose of developing a discernment to hear God in our everyday lives and to receive divine guidance, where faith is born and miracles happen.
6. Modern Monk - PRACTICE OF FAITH
The student will learn the more excellent way of faith. We will become unaware of our faith and be more conscious of Jesus to see obstacles removed and heaven invade our lives.
7. Modern Monk - PRACTICE OF OBEDIENCE
The student will learn to obey God completely with the realization that there are others on the other side of our obedience. A monk's life of faith is simple: we hear, and we obey. The student will develop a trust that we do not have to understand fully to obey completely.
8. Modern Monk - PRACTICE OF FASTING
We will learn Jesus and Paul’s approach to fasting, which energizes our prayers and infuses our lives with the supernatural.
9. Modern Monk - PRACTICE OF SACRIFICE AND GENEROSITY
The student will learn about their contribution to the world, church, and people that truly expresses the heart of Jesus. A monk's response to the reckless generosity of Jesus is sacrifice and generosity, which makes our world larger and larger.
10. Modern Monk - PRACTICE OF COMMUNITY
A modern monk is not about isolation but about a common heart, community, and family. We will learn how to do life together and how to consistently surrender to the unity of the faith which is key to the supernatural and transformation within us and our world.
11. Modern Monk - PRACTICE OF LIVING IN THE WORLD
The student will learn how to practice hospitality and become a friend of sinners that they may come to believe.