By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
Every Christian strives to have a vibrant spiritual life. But in the hustle and bustle of our daily routine, our spiritual disciplines can often go off track. If you created this as one of your New Year's resolutions but have failed to follow through with the goals you set for yourself, there's still hope. No matter how far along you are in your spiritual journey, there are always ways you can step up your spiritual life so you can grow in your spiritual journey. For those who have been Christian for a long time, it is common to get into a rut or a routine, focused more on completing the task than hearing from God. If this is you, there are ways you can change it and develop habits it will help you develop your spiritual life in a new way. You are five ways to have a healthy spiritual life as an individual:
1. Schedule It
I'm a routine person. I thrive on knowing what's coming throughout my day. If I don't have a plan for what's going on in my day, it's easy for me to get off track and get distracted with many non-essential items in my checking list. I get things off my to-do list rather than spending time with God. Schedule it in small chunks if you feel overwhelmed by having a spiritual life. You do not have to dedicate large parts of your morning or evening to devotional time if it doesn't fit your schedule. You can easily get up twenty minutes earlier in the morning to read the Word and pray for ten minutes before going to bed. Dividing your spiritual time up into small chunks might help you feel as though it is more attainable.
If you are not scheduled, get a planner or use an app to remind you daily what you must do. The more you engage in spiritual activities, the more likely they will become a habit. That does not worry about the amount of time we spend with him, only that we are spending time with him. Designating a small amount of time, even in the morning, will get your day started off right and make a healthy habit that will help you grow as a Christian and display a more Christlike character.
2. Vary It
Reading the Word and prayer are two essential elements of any person's spiritual life. But are there other disciplines you could be engaging in that you haven't done in a while or even tried? Have you ever tried fasting? Dedicate one day a week to giving up one or even two meals. Substitute these meals with water or juice to keep your sugar up. Every time you feel a hunger pang, take a sip of water and pray that God will get you through it. Jesus practiced fasting during his time on earth, and it gave him more intimacy with the father. Jesus also practiced silence and solitude, making this a morning habit. You can try to spend time alone in silence in a hotel room or a room at a Conference Center and spend time with God. Some centers offer silent retreats, which are great ways to spend a large portion of your time hearing God's voice. These disciplines are also essential to develop the gift of discernment and wisdom in your life. To develop other spiritual gifts, you must practice spiritual disciplines. A runner does not run a marathon in one day. He trains, engaging in long periods of running and conditioning his body to be able to endure the toll running takes on his physical stamina and endurance. If he sticks with it, eventually, he will be able to complete their goal of running a marathon.
Think of your spiritual life like a marathon. Don't skip out on the training your body needs to grow your spiritual life and give you overall emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness.
3. Get Accountable
If you have difficulty cultivating a spiritual life on your own, find a trusted friend or spiritual leader who will help you with this task. Set some goals together and commit to keeping each other accountable for completing them. We are more likely to achieve goals when someone else knows about them and is committed to helping us see them through, rather than simply making goals for ourselves, not doing them, and then failing to complete them. You will develop a friendship, and an intimate bond will be shared because of your accountability relationship.
If you cannot find someone who will hold you accountable for your goals, partner with someone who shares the same desire as you. Create the same goals for each other and encourage each other to complete them. You can even make it a competition or game and see who can complete their goals in the fastest time—sometimes knowing that others are growing faster than you might be all the incentive you need to take your spiritual life seriously.
Scripture says to "pray without ceasing." Although most of us will stop praying due to work commitments or other family obligations, we can develop a habit of praying throughout the day. In addition to grace during meals or corporate prayer time at your church, you can pray before every business meeting or project you must tackle. Ask God to give you the strength to complete the task to the best of your ability. Work was created in the garden to give our lives purpose and meaning. God wants us to do the work he has given us to do as completely as possible. Ask him for his help even if you are doing a job that you hate.
Not every task that Jesus completed on earth was his favorite. However, he set out to do only what he saw his father doing, and his main objective was to give his father glory. In the same way, we are to give God glory even in our work. Commit to being as thorough and complete as possible, even if it means spending extra time on a chore or task you find unfavorable.
Any spiritual life will have its share of ebbs and flows. There will be times when you feel very close to God and other times when you feel spiritually dry. It is especially when you feel spiritually dry that you must press on and strive to have the best, most vibrant spiritual life you can. When God chooses to break his silence, he may speak to you in many ways, and you must be disciplined to recognize his voice. God honors obedience. He knows you are striving to get to know him more. Through your obedience, he will speak to you in ways you never expected, and you will know God more intimately than ever before.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.