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book cover of Ruth Haley Barton's Sacred Rhythms


We all want to slow down, be more present, and be more aware of God. It sounds nice, but how do we actually shift the rhythms of our lives in a meaningful and sustainable way?  Ruth Haley Barton’s book Sacred Rhythms examines how to find and access the sacred when it feels like it is an impossible task in the midst of our full lives.

In the spirit of the book we are intentionally slowing down to have time to digest the material/reading rather than rushing to check a good book off the “read list”. As such, we will cover only the first four chapters of the book over eight weeks. Odd weeks will be devoted to discussion of a new chapter. Even weeks will be a time to share about applying/practicing the previous week’s topic in your life over the week. After the series concludes, you are welcome to continue the study on your own or continue meeting as a group!

The intention is to make space to learn about new practices and rhythms AND to have space built in to bring it to life and process that growth in community. The four topics we will cover are Desire for Jesus, Solitude, Prayer, and Scripture.


Notes for Participants

  • Every other week you will read one chapter of the book. The chapters take from 20-30 minutes to read depending on the person. On weeks where you are reading a new chapter, the discussion will conclude with an invitation to each Small Group member to decide what it would look like to practice/ apply this principle during their coming week. At the next Small Group meeting, you will process together how the week went and discuss what you noticed about being more aware of and practicing that principle. Therefore, this discussion guide has both a reading/learning element and intentional time to apply the rhythms in your daily life.

  • Finally, conversation is a great place to explore, but it is not where we should stay forever. As you talk about vulnerability and courage, keep returning back to the question: How does this change the way I live, love, and participate in the world?

  • Once you’ve agreed upon your Group Norms and taken Week One to get to know each other using the Introduction Questions, you’re ready to begin your eight-week book study of Sacred Rhythms!
    Questions are provided in a printer-friendly version for ease of use.

    Discussion Guide

Spiritual Practices to Accompany Your Study

As you take on a new study and a new commitment in your life, it can be helpful to integrate spiritual practices as well. Below are two that assist with reading scripture and with integrating prayer in your daily life.

  • Lectio Divina is a way of reading scripture that helps you slow down and read God’s word prayerfully and contemplatively. Here is a nice concise description of the steps.

  • This concise guide to breath prayer is from Pastor Adele Calhoun’s book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. Breath Prayer is exactly how it sounds, praying short prayers with the rhythm of your breath.