Growing up I heard stories of saints who would rise early in the morning, pray for many hours, and the result was that God did wonderful things through their lives.
I’ve tried the many hours of prayer style of devotion–and I have failed miserably: my mind wanders, I get antsy. My early determination was that I was far from spiritual.
Then through the help of some friends, face to face, and in books, I started to realize that there is a connection between one’s temperament, the way a person is in the world, and they way they express and deepen their prayer/spiritual life. It was a great relief to realized that four hours of prayer early in the morning was not the only way to foster a walk with the Lord.
Recently, the DMIN staff at Fuller took the Enneagram together. We did this to get an idea of how each of us saw ourselves and the world in order to work together better. I am a 3–called the effective person–positive words for me are : efficient, successful motivator, enthusiastic, practical, active, organized. Those words fit. Negative words for me include: impatient, workaholic, image-conscious, success-driven, political. Those words also fit.
One author writes about the spiritual disciplines that naturally fit with each enneagram type. For 3s the natural discipline is labyrinth prayer. That makes sense. It is prayer while moving. I like that. I have adopted and modified this discipline…I pray while I run. It works and it is good.
This author goes on to state a “growth” discipline that would push my prayer life forward. For 3s that discipline is the Prayer of Examen: spending time at the end of each day, going over the day, giving it to God and getting ready for the next day. It involves introspection. I don’t slow down enough for that! But this is a good discipline for me. I am going to begin this practice.
for more on the Enneagram: there are a number of websites where you can determine your type.
read Rohr/Ebert The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective