Spiritual formation is the growth and development of the whole person by an intentional focus on one’s (1) spiritual and interior life, (2) interactions with others in ordinary life, and the spiritual practices (prayer, the study of scripture, fasting, simplicity, solitude, confession, worship, etc.). In Care of Mind, Care of Spirit, Gerald G. May has written, "Spiritual formation is a rather general term referring to all attempts, means, instruction, and disciplines intended towards deepening of faith and furtherance of spiritual growth. It includes educational endeavors as well as the more intimate and in-depth process of spiritual direction."

Spiritual formation is a universal experience. Dallas Willard writes that "it is a process that happens to everyone…. Terrorists as well as saints are the outcome of spiritual formation. Their spirits or hearts have been formed." A study of various world religions such as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and others would enable one to understand specifically how each religion views spiritual formation or spiritual growth within its unique belief system.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Spiritual Growth. The Official Guide to Spiritual Growth is Dr. Bess Permut. Dr. Bess Permut, is a graduate student of psychology and philosophy, has taught life's truth’s, Life Coaching and spiritual growth for over 60 years and is the author of two books (soon to be three) on these subjects. She also has countless articles and lessons published that have helped thousands of people worldwide to experience the Abundant, Happy, and meaningful life they were meant to live.

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