We don’t give spiritual fitness much thought do we? King Solomon says (Proverbs 4:23) that all of life’s decisions come from our heart or spirit. They don’t come from our physical bodies but we work to keep them fit.
As a pastor I’ve found there are key’s to staying spiritually fit. These five key’s will help you stay inspired, give you the longevity you need to keep going, and a clear mind to make really good decisions.
- Scripture Read & Memorization
While it might seem obvious it really isn’t. How do I know this? Well according to Lifeway Research, people who attend church regularly, a little over 40% read their Bible occasionally. “Occasionally” means maybe once or twice a month. That’s JUST reading it, let alone memorizing it. Yet King David said, “I have hidden my word in my heart…” Psalm 119:11.
How can we expect to grow spiritually yet only read it maybe twice a month? Would you expect a child to grow healthily if they only ate maybe twice a month?
In Luke 4 Jesus is tempted by Satan to prove he’s God’s son. How did Jesus combat Satan? He said, “It is written…” Did Jesus know scripture just because he was God’s son? No. Remember he chose to come in the form of a man and be limited in His ability. Then how did he know scripture so well? Before the age of 13 or a Hebrew boys Barmitzvah, they were required to at minimum memorize the Torah, or first five books of the Bible. Jesus memorized scripture. This helped him with his identity, withstand the negative attacks, and even face Satan head on.
Scripture memorization can be easy. Here are some tips that work for me:
- Find a favorite verse, print it off and place it around the house. Place this verse where you brush your teeth, on the fridge, on the dash of your car, back of the door you leave everyday. Leave it up long enough (month or two or three) until you have it memorized.
- Get a Bible memorization app like “Verses” or “The Bible Memory App” or “Bible Memory”
If there’s one thing I hear a LOT I can’t pray because I don’t sound as good as “so and so.” What a lame excuse. Seriously, do you tell a child to stop learning to talk because they don’t sound like a great speaker? No.
The importance of prayer cannot be emphasized enough. Prayer is to spiritual growth what a snow plow is to the front of a snow truck. Prayer clears the road for things to move in your life.
Consider these verses in Daniel 10:12 and 13, where the angel told Daniel that God heard his prayer the moment he prayed. God responds to prayer every time but it doesn’t mean the answer is immediate.
Prayer is more about a conversation with God than it is telling him what’s wrong and what we need fixed (Matthew 6:8). If your prayer life is mostly, “God this is messed up.” or “God can you get me out of this?” Then imagine if you had a friend who ONLY came to you when they had a problem. That friendship wouldn’t last long. Prayer is about communication and relational growth.
Here are some things you can do to improve your prayer life:
- Keep a prayer journal. Write down your prayers and put a “check box” next to them to check them off when God answer them. This also builds your faith to know God will answer your prayer.
- Be silent and listen for God’s voice. Do sit in silence, either in nature or in a room. Also know God will never tell you something that does not align with scripture. That’s how you know if it’s God talking to you or just your own idea.
In case you missed it we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and that means we are supposed to live in community with each other. Consider this, God, the son, and Holy Spirit all live in community with each other. Now, if we are made in their image then it only makes sense that we have to live in community with one another.
Living in community does a few things. First, living in community encourages others. In C.S. Lewis’ book The Four Loves he writes, “You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.” What does he mean by this? He means that for the Christian there is no such thing as “chance” that God in His providence has helped us find friends that will bring out the best in us and help us also face the worst in us.
You see for Christians to mature we must all rub elbow’s with people that make us angry, sad, hurt, happy, joyous, excited and more. Why? Because it’s in this community that we learn to grow through the anger. We learn to savor a bit of heaven on earth through laughter. In community we are forced to become and discover our true selves.
Here are some keys to being in growing spiritually in community:
- Go to a church where your gifts can be used. This causes you to discover new friends and cherish old ones.
- Find a friendship where you discuss more Bible than you do your latest vacation, football game or hunting trip.
- Involve yourself in a good group at church, a small group, Bible study, or something else.
- Personal Retreat Day (PRD)
What in the world is a Personal Retreat Day (PRD)? it’s just what it says. You need a day where it’s all about you. I take these once a month. Here’s what a PRD looks like for me: Extra time with God than usual. Then something I enjoy doing, whether hiking, video games, hanging with friends, etc. Then spend a portion of that day dreaming about your future. Write it down set some goals to make it happen.
There is enough of life that it will drain your emotional and mental battery. During a PRD you’re not going to check email, take work calls, or even think about work.
Wayne Cordeiro in his book, “Leading on Empty” talks about the importance of a PRD, “These I schedule in advance, because life has a tendency to crowd out what’s most important.” He’s right if you don’t put a PRD on your calendar you won’t do it. Why? Because life is too busy. But have you considered how much more focused you’d be if your mind and emotions were fresh? Have you considered how much more energy you’d have knowing you’re coming up on a PRD?
Consider how often Jesus got away by himself, a lot!! If he did it you need to do it.
Steps to a successful PRD:
- You will have to force it be “ok” with that
- Spend extra time with your Creator.
- Spend time dreaming and goal setting
- Spend time doing what invigorates you!!!
Oh yeah a weekly day off. Seems like a pipe dream. Well so does a lot of things until someone actually accomplishes it and the rest of us are left to wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that.” Have you noticed the weather comes in cycles? Have you noticed fish swim in the ocean currents in certain cyclical patterns? Have you noticed birds fly in certain cyclical patterns? Have you noticed farmers plant in cyclical patterns? Have you noticed a cyclical pattern?
Guess what we are supposed to work, rest, and connect in a pattern. God set that pattern in place in everything in creation. Why do we think we don’t need too? We’re only fooling ourselves and subtracting the best possible us from our friends and society when we don’t work according to the designed pattern.
So what is that pattern? In Leviticus 25:1-55 God lays out a Sabbath pattern of six years of working the land and 1 year not working the land to let it rest. In Genesis God did nothing on the seventh day of the week because His work was done.
So what is done on the sabbath? Only two things, connection to God in community (attend church) and rest or what recharges your mental and emotional battery. That’s it. This is a part of the spiritual cycle set in motion by God.
Steps to a healthy Sabbatical:
- If it feels like work DON’T DO IT. This includes running your kids around to ball games.
- Do connect with others spiritually via church, going out to eat with others, etc.
- Rest, rest and more rest for the upcoming busy week.