The equation is simple:
Flesh and bone + spirit = mankind
We understand that man is made of the physical and the spiritual. We carefully monitor our diets and exercise our bodies but may neglect the most important part which is our spiritual man. Paul told Timothy that spiritual exercise was more important. “…for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise of the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). In the gym we push a little harder, spend a couple of extra minutes on the treadmill or push around a bit more iron, but how can we squeeze more from our spirit? Here are seven suggestions to deepen your spiritual walk.
There is no greater gift from our Father than the medium of prayer. Our example, Jesus, practiced near constant prayer unto his Father. He is found praying at the most difficult moment of his earthly life as he waited for the mob to come and arrest him at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36ff). Jesus taught his followers to pray also (Luke 11:1-4). You can empower your prayer life with these quick tips.
- Keep a prayer journal and write down what you want to pray for.
- Forget about “thee’s” and “thou’s” and just say what you mean.
- Set a time every day to pray and do not allow the world to encroach on that moment.
- Pray specifically not generically.
- Pray first for others and then for yourself.
- Be prepared to wrestle with God in prayer and do not give up (c.f. Genesis 32:24-32; Luke 18:1-8).
Read With Purpose
God’s Word is a marvelous bridge to the spiritual that can transport the weary heart toward heaven. When you read, look for something. Search for some passage or comforting verse that speaks loudly to you. The Christian reads to grow and to draw closer to God (James 4:8). Try this when you read:
- Choose a passage that meets your immediate need. Psalms for comfort, James or Proverbs for wisdom, etc.
- Choose a time to read when interruptions are unlikely.
- Look for a key word or phrase that is important.
- Read like you are searching for answers for you are!
- Answer the question, What is the writer saying to me?
We like to talk. In fact, it’s hard for us to shut up and listen isn’t it? But when reading the Scriptures we must stop talking, out loud or in our heads, so that we can drink deeply of God’s immense wisdom. Some years ago the idea of meditation came to be linked with far out guru’s and eastern mystics. But Paul told Timothy to meditate on godly things (1 Timothy 4:15 KJV). The idea of meditation is to immerse oneself in a thought or study. Use these tips:
- A quiet place is essential – eliminate all distractions.
- Begin with prayer and ask God for help in meditating on his word.
- Plan to meditate immediately after you read the Bible. Focus upon that one word or phrase that seems important to you.
- Consider what the text says and think of ways to put it to work in your own life.
- End with prayer, asking God to help you remember and apply what you have studied.
Watch God Work
I’m 47 years old but I still love birthdays and Christmas. I get a thrill out of opening presents. The Christian is the same way about all of life. Each day is a present from God just waiting the follower to open it up and find the heavenly surprises. I like to give God all the credit for the many little things that happen throughout the day. Nothing big, just one little blessing after another. But remember, you have to watch to catch them. And don’t forget to offer a little prayer of thanks for each one.
Seek to Serve
The Christian life is a life of service, both toward God and toward our fellow man. Sometimes service does not come calling. We must seek opportunities to serve. Jesus was a server. He served the poor, the dejected, the grieving, the confused and the ill. Paul often described himself as a servant. Here are a few ideas for service:
- Seek out someone unloved and ignored. Make them feel special by your attention.
- Send an anonymous card of encouragement to someone hurting. Tell them you are praying for them.
- Maintain a prayer list of people in need. Serve them by taking them before the Father in prayer.
- Grab a couple of friends and go do the yard work for an elderly person. Accept nothing but a “thank you.”
- Call a church leader and tell them you want to be involved. Ask how you can best serve.
Perhaps the most difficult thing is to submit our lives wholly unto God. He is the master and we are the servants. Our world teaches us to pursue promotions and advancements. “Look out for number one!” is the call of culture. The Christian can dispense with such notions in their spiritual lives for Christ is first in all things. He is “the only sovereign, the Lord of lords and King of kings“ (1 Timothy 6:15). When I come to understand that I am only a servant in the fields then all t he responsibility (and all of the grandeur) for victory belongs to Him.
When our service is done the Christian will vanish. We do not wait for praise or accolades for they all belong to Christ. Any praise is deflected to the throne where Jesus rules over his people. It doesn’t matter if my name is in the church bulletin or if my picture is in the newspaper. All glory to Christ for I am but his servant. We know that any glory and praise we accept is less that is directed to Jesus. Let him absorb all glory and honor and let me only hovel at his feet.
A deep meaningful spiritual life does not come over night. It is part of a maturing process that enriches through time. But now is the moment to begin. Serve him and draw near. You will not be disappointed!
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on building a deeper spiritual life.