Wednesday, July 8, 2020

When Spiritual Discipline is Tough


Let's put on our humanity for a second and agree that sticking with Spiritual Discipline can be tough. What I call Spiritual Discipline, you may call quiet time. You also may call it devotional. Whatever the label, making it a habit is challenging.  

What is the secret of the super saints? You and I know there are those among us who never fail at their Spiritual Discipline habit. Or so we think.

Everyone gets discouraged: Moses got mad. Elijah hid. Esther hesitated in doing what God called her to do. Peter and the disciples fell asleep at the top of the mountain. Ops!

We also have examples of people who did great. They remind us of what is possible. Daniel prayed three times a day. Jesus prayed early in the morning. John Wesley's mom kept the prayer habit going while mothering and homeschooling 17 children.

So what is the secret of sticking with Godly habits day in and day out? I'd say try a couple of things but do not fail to start with this:

1. Ask God to help you. I'm not sure if a lot of us who are trying to connect with God, ask Him for help. God will speak to you and He will give you the strategy you need to make this work. 

2. Start small. Everyone has a spiritual superhero. The one I admire prays for 4 hours a day. I can't begin to tell you that I would love to do that but right now, I'm working full-time, I have a business of my own and I have a husband and kids. These are not excuses, these are facts of life. Starting small means starting where I am. Praying before everyone wakes up. Once the kids are grown, I bet I'll be able to carve more and more time to pray. Will I start at 4 hours? I'm sure it would be wonderful. Starting small is also a wonderful thing to do. God does look at the heart, not at the number of hours we are trying to pile up in prayer. 

3. Ask a friend you admire how they make it work. I often ask like-minded people about their devotional life. I ask my mentors questions. They tell me how they made time for God when their kids were little. I learn a lot from my friends, family, and mentors. I'm here to tell you that there are people out there who are seeking God and pressing on to know Him. Ask them questions. 

4. Got interruption from kids? Ask them to join you! I never forgot about the story of John Wesley's mom. She trained her kids to know that when she had her apron on top of her head, they were to give her some space because she was praying. She was also hands-on with their Christian education. If you find that your kids are interrupting you, ask them to join you. The word of God is for everyone. The spirit receives it with joy. There is nothing wrong with exposing kids to what you read in the Bible as well as letting them hear your prayers. Thank God I heard the prayers of my mother. I'm seeing the answers right now. How would I know unless she involved me in her devotional life? 

5. Set an alarm. If you have a problem remembering to set aside time for God, set an alarm as a reminder. When that alarm sounds, grab your Bible, get on your knees, get in the presence of God. Soon, this will become a habit and you will not need the alarm. 

6. Start with 5 minutes and increase the amount of time slowly. If spending time in Spiritual Discipline is a foreign concept to you, start with praying and reading your Bible for 5 minutes then increase the amount of time slowly. The goal is to slowly "taste and see that the Lord is good." 

7. Join a group - When I want encouragement, I join a group. When I joined a Bible study group, I was encouraged to study the Bible on my own. I was also surrounded by people who like me, wanted to spend time with God on a regular basis. The group can't do Spiritual Discipline for you but they can encourage you to do it. 

8. Read a book - There are wonderful books about studying the Bible, prayer, and fasting out there. I often read books related to each discipline. Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster covers them all and he will stretch your thinking too. If you want other book recommendations, send me a message and I will give you some solid books to read. The books I read are recommended by my mentors. These books really helped me pursue God with more passion and joy. These books are simply a tool. The Bible is my main book. God is the One I seek to know, worship, and serve with joy. 

9. Teach what you learn - The best way to master a subject is to teach what you learn. If you have kids, teach them. If you have friends, tell them about what you are learning. If you are a Sunday School teacher, teach your students. I know you have a lesson plan. You can enhance that lesson with the things you are learning from God as you practice Spiritual Discipline. Our faith in Jesus is active. Jesus always taught many things. We need to teach others too. It doesn't take a degree or an actual classroom. We are called to spread the good news of Jesus by simply teaching what we learn. Teaching can be as simple as a conversation with a friend who is feeling stuck in her devotional life. "Have you thought about reading the Bible?" is something I often ask. Then I tell her the why (if you want to know God, you need to read His Book) and how (I recommend a 15-minute Bible reading plan). I'm encouraging you to teach what you learn my friend. 

10. Don't let yourself get lazy - As a Bible lover and teacher, I hear people sometimes say they get lazy with their Spiritual Discipline. Getting lazy is the same thing as knowing you have to sweep a room and you don't quite do it well. There's dirt in the corners. The broom did not cover every square inch available. Just a lazy type of job! Getting lazy is different than getting discouraged. The lazy person will crack their Bible open. They'll check the reading on her to-do list. They will go to Bible Study and complain that the reading is boring. The solution is not to let yourself get stuck in that place. When you feel yourself getting there, ask God to help you. Tell Him how your heart feels. You basically say, "restore unto me, the joy of thy salvation." God will answer your prayer and give you Divine direction. Reading the Bible is not supposed to feel like an amusement park ride daily. It is also not meant to be boring. As you ask God for direction, He promises to lead you and guide you in the way you should go. God will challenge your mind and your understanding of His word. He will take you deeper than before. It is up to you not to let yourself get lazy and continue in the most rewarding journey you can have on this side of life. 

I sincerely hope these tips can help you be encouraged in your Spiritual Discipline. Let me know if you try any of these and what you discover. One thing I know for sure, God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. He will be found by you my friend. 

2 comments:

Friend said...

Good tips, Cintia.

Christa Watson said...

Great content. I am going to apply these!