You react the same way for the umpteenth time, and you don’t know why. That grumbling voice of self-criticism won’t shut-up. Your key relationships seem to be experiencing “the blahs.” Agree with any of these statements? You may be stuck. Emotional and spiritual maturity aren’t automatic. Some people reach a certain point and stop because of pain, a chronic situation, or a lack of vision. Actually, the problem may even be more practical than any of this.
Reality check, not guilt trip: Most people spend more time planning their vacation than their spiritual growth. Little of enduring value takes shape without a plan. These three, simple keys can get you growing again.
1. Make a plan
My wife and I set an appointment each week to keep our relationship healthy. It may seem cold and calculated, but there’s another term for it, called “Date Night.” A growing relationship with God also requires a regular appointed time and place. If your devotional time is completely spontaneous, then you eventually will lose heart.
– Set an appointment (time and place)
– Follow a plan (Prayer, reading plan, journaling…)
– Start with small and sustainable.
2. Learn to pray
Hurry, noise and crowds–the chief competitors of spiritual growth. Prayer requires a healthier pace for mind and heart, if only for a few minutes. No relationship thrives by imposing will upon will. Learning to hear God’s “still small voice” takes time and trust. If it seems your prayers go nowhere, then learn to crawl before you walk. Follow a the simple outline found at this link: The Lord’s Prayer. For further direction, read Martin Luther’s, A Simple Way to Pray, based on the Lord’s Prayer.
Pray this prayer daily, pausing at each point to allow your study and reflection to bear upon each pause.
3. Practice Disciplines of Grace
The main charge against being intentional about spiritual growth is legalism. But self-discipline and self-righteousness are not the same. “Grace is against earning, not effort” (Dallas Willard). The following time-tested disciplines are the means by which we experience God and grow.
Worship – because without it, we shrink.
Solitude and Sabbath – Because the inner murmur of self-reproach will not be silenced until we hear it as static.
Read/memorize Scripture – because the voice convincing us to become our own moral authority is called “Pride.”
Meditation/Journaling – because we read too much and reflect too little.
Fasting– because we need to become more aware of what we truly desire.
Obedience – because doing what we say we believe helps us become what we long to be.
Generosity – because giving helps us learn how “just a little more” will never satisfy the deep longings of the soul.
Service – because love is more action than attraction.