The essence of spiritual practice is change - the self-transformation kinda change. If you are on any spiritual path you have to be ready and willing to not fit in where you used to, with the people you used to and or the way you're used to. Why? Spiritual practice changes you. It changes you at the deepest levels.
Many people take up some kind of spiritual practice because it's the thing to do or out of curiosity. But there are also many people who take up spiritual practices because they are searching for something and hoping the practice would give them for example, more peace of mind. For others, it was passed down through generations. Regardless of how you came to have your spiritual practice in your hands, I believe the potential for self-transformation is there.
A spiritual practice should have some kind of effect on you. It should make you feel something different inside not necessarily immediately but at the very least, after a period of consistent practice.
Sometimes though you have a spiritual practice, you may feel we are not changing or experiencing anything. In that case, it could be because you're not practicing often enough, sincerely enough or maybe you need to try something else. If you're having that problem, these are options to explore instead of becoming discouraged and wanting to give up spirituality entirely. If this is the case, before you make any rash decisions ask yourself why your practice might not be working for you. More often than not, you already know the answer deep within. Spiritual practices work when we are consistent and sincere.
I believe spiritual practice is the way to "be the change." Change on an individual level.
When you put your attention on a spiritual practice it simply moves around energy within you. If you put your attention on it enough and very sincerely, it moves your energies around enough so that you gradually begin to experience small changes.
You should also feel happy about those inner changes and feel like you are becoming a better person because of it. I've always thought Paige Bradley's piece called Expansion (shown in the picture below) is a nice visual representation of this inner process.
The changes that spiritual practice eventually creates within you begin to show on the outside at some point. It begins to not only be your personal inner experience but it begins to take effect on your outer life. I know that might sound scary to some of you. Trust me, I understand. I spent a big part of my life being afraid of spiritual practices. Sometimes it is scary if you don't have much experience with them, didn't really feel ready to be transformed or if you didn't even know think spiritual practices could bring about real self-transformation.
Years ago when I wasn't sure if meditation and prayer could have any deep effect on me, I was taken aback when things started happening in my life that somehow seemed to help me understand the words in a particular prayer I often used. The words of the prayer were related to the concepts of removing darkness from within. I began to feel like I was experiencing those words coming alive inside me on a personal level and in my life as well. I understood that the concepts of "inner darkness" and "inner light" were actually real and descriptions of my own inner qualities. I understood that I have both in me (which itself was a bit of a shock) and suddenly spiritual practice became deeply personal. It has remained so ever since. At some point, you should feel something similar. In this way, spiritual practice gradually refines who you are.
Eventually the quality of your refinement through spiritual practice refines what you talk about, where you go, the type of fun you have, what you're interested in, who you're interested in, what you think about, how you view life, how you experience life, how you respond in life events, how you respond to people, how you view God, how you view prayer, how you think about spirituality, how you think about religion, how you see yourself and best of all - how you respond in the same old situations or circumstances you've known before. You change.
This only happens when you make spiritual practice important. Be consistent, be sincere and allow yourself to be the change.