Grace and Strength, Personal Growth, Relationship with God

5 Essential Practices for a Vibrant Spiritual Life

5-essential-practices-for-a-vibrant-spiritual-life

I was talking to a friend the other day.  “What should I do if I just feel blah about God?”, she asked, “I’m just not growing any more – not motivated, not changing – it’s tempting to just give up on God’s even being real at all. Where is the excitement, the joy, and the passion people say should be part of the spiritual life? Why does “everyone else” seem to find prayer so rewarding while I sit over here at a loss?”

She was asking me different questions but really they all boil down to the same crux of the matter. How does one bring a stagnant spiritual life back to life?

I wonder if it all hinges on our understanding of who God is in the first place.

Who is God?

Sometimes I think we, as a collective society, have become a little too much like the Grape Soda Kid from the AAOS. God isn’t some entertainment tycoon who’s all about making bigger screens and comfier seats so that more people will come to watch Him wear roller skates and dance around doing magic tricks while serving us candy, popcorn, and soda our whole lives so that we will be “happy”. No, that is not the goal. He’s not that kind of God, and that is NOT happiness!!

Quite the Opposite!

God’s whole goal is to get us OFF the couch and AWAY from the screens, to encourage us to smell the roses and climb all the mountains. He wants us to be fit and active and healthy and vibrant – in all 4 of our dimensions (Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, and Physical). He desires to challenge us and to change us by helping us grow. He’s not a waiter in a restaurant, who listens and bends over backwards to every demand and complaint. NO. He’s a personal trainer. He is the one who truly and deeply understands spiritual musculoskeletal development and ascribes to the common phrase of most personal trainers – ‘Hate’ me today, love me tomorrow. You don’t have to like “feeling the burn”, but the burn means it’s working. His love desires to push you past your limits so that you obliterate them, together.

The Vibrant Christian Life is Synonymous with Growth/Transformation

Vibrant Spiritual Life = transformation, Vibrant Christian Life, Stagnant Spiritual life,

This is why we need spiritual disciplines. These are our spiritual workouts. They are necessary because we have free will. We have the option to choose God or not. How much do I want Him? Spiritual Disciplines help us grow stronger, and put a little more money where our mouth is, so to speak. How serious are we about this? Are we in it for the long haul? or are we more of a fair-weather friend? Are we only here for the miracles? or can we drink the cup with Him?

Can you drink the cup which I am to drink? – Matthew 20:22

Herod was very glad to see Jesus; he had been wanting to see him for a long time, for he had heard about him and had been hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at length, but He gave him no answer. – Luke 23:8-9

A large crowd was following Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick – John 6:2

Essential Practices for a Vibrant Christian Life (Overcome Stagnant Spiritual Life)

Here are 5 things you can do put a little spiritual fire back into your weary bones. But, remember, they aren’t meant to be easy, they are meant to be transformative.

If it doesn’t burn, it’s a waste of time – Shaun T (Professional Beachbody Coach)

#1 – Silence

The first and most critically important thing you are missing if you truly desire a deeper and more vibrant spiritual life is Silence.

We’ve created within ourselves and in our society a dependence on noise and input. This dependence is a real thing. We can’t even handle grocery shopping or elevator rides without music.

Please. I beg you. Stop the madness!

Unplug your headset and your TV. Stop scrolling. Step back from mindless chatter and meaningless relationships. Smell the roses, notice nature, and stop running from the fear of being alone with your own thoughts.

Yes, this will be hard.

Remember, it’s pretty much an addiction and you will need to be a little patient with yourself as you detox. Read a book like Get your Life Back by John Eldredge, and maybe try to do some busy work with your hands (ie. cleaning, painting, knitting, woodworking, etc) if you are truly struggling, but do this. Do this! Make a commitment to a full 30-40day stint of at LEAST some level of noise removal from your life, and stick to it.

I promise you will thank me later.

the purpose of silence, ability to hear

PS. Note – In order to do this successfully, keep these 2 points in mind:

  • The purpose of silence isn’t the absence of noise, it’s the ability to hear.
  • When you hear God for real, you can never doubt Him again, not truly. How’s that for a perk!

My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. – John 10:27

Read also:

#2 – Time

Time.

Oh my friend, somehow people have got it into their heads that only “holy people” in monasteries (if those even still exist) should be praying often during the day… us normal people out “in the world” have to earn livings and be with people. “Our work IS our prayer”, right?

Ok. Yes. There is an element of truth to the concept in that our work can be prayerful and even a prayer in itself in so far as it “glorifies God” (ToBeExplained…).

But we can’t use this as an excuse to never actually pray!

make the time

Make. The. Time.

Period.

No one said daily prayer had to be big or formal (though it could be) but it should be intentional, at the very least, and a TOP priority (including over sleep, over self-care, over food, and over obligations). Which is why this section is called TIME and not “prayer”.

If you are truly serious about breaking through your feeling of spiritual stagnancy, at the barest bare minimum, you NEED prayer first thing in the morning (Ie. Good morning, Jesus. Today is all yours. before your feet even touch the floor!) , and an examination of conscience at night.

No matter your gender, how old you are, or what you do, you also NEED:

  • several moments of prayerful rest spread throughout the day,
  • weekly dedicated time (outside of “church”) for concentrated prayer (1-3hours),
  • and time for daily Bible reading.

I recently wrote a post on the most valuable aspect of your single season, and, spoiler alert, the answer is TIME. There is a reason each of us NEEDS a single season, and that reason isn’t to party our faces off before we get tied down, it’s to get close enough to God to hear and recognize His voice so that we can learn what He is calling us to and follow Him.

Pray without ceasing – 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Yes, it IS possible. No matter who we are, no matter what our “state-in-life”. Our prayer will look different based on whether we are single or chasing around 6 kids, working on a factory floor or being a CEO. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, a cancer patient, or a first responder, your job doesn’t change the fact that you NEED prayer!

Read also:

PS. Maybe you are reading this article because you feel like you have tried prayer and it feels “pointless”. When prayer feels dry, empty, and lifeless there are a lot of possible reasons, but for the sake of attempting to remain as succinct as possible I will mention only two here.

  1. You are not actually praying – whether you realize it or not (ie. thinking about God is not the same as talking to God, reading spiritual books and/or babbling words is not prayer, you can even go to church and not pray, not really – think the Pharisee and the Publican – Luke 18:9-14)
  2. God may be testing your persistence. But, that’s another topic for another time. So, pass the Test! 🙂 Do not give up on prayer, pray from your deepest heart, and don’t forget, prayer is at least 80% listening!

You have proved me and you know me – Psalm 139:1 (Some translations say, You have ‘searched’ me…)

Pray always without becoming weary – Luke 18:1

#3 – Humility

Ooohh, ouch. This one’s a doozy. (As if the other ones weren’t…lol)

We HAVE to recognize that we need help, that we aren’t perfect and that we can’t do this on our own.

We must recognize our faults and experience deep sorrow for sin. We must realize that we are capable of any and every horrific act and that we are entitled to nothing. As Augustine famously said [speaking of the worst sin], “There, but for the grace of God, go I”.

Yes. I know, this all sounds terrible.

Aren’t we beloved? Yes. We are! But, belovedness has nothing to do with worthiness, in fact, it is only in the realization of unworthiness that our belovedness is actually the most intensely obvious.

It is but for Divine Strength that we are being transformed and lifted up.

I know this is a painful recognition, but there’s no point in sugar coating it for ourselves. Unless you get to this point you will never get past it. That’s why it’s so good to hit rock bottom. It’s where we find the humility to grow.

our belovedness only becomes more obvious with the awareness of our unworthiness

Read also: 

Beloved Affirmations Promo

#4 – Fasting

Extremely powerful, extremely misunderstood, and extremely poorly exercised, the weightloss industry has attempted to hijack an exclusively Christian practice capable only by and through the power of grace.

We can learn two things from this,

  1. Science has finally discovered that fasting is also good for us on a physical level (imagine that, God wanted our spiritual life to have a positive impact on our physical one!)
  2. And, Christians are starting to think that fasting is only beneficial for physical health and it’s a hard and miserable one at that, so there has to be a better way.

This second one is very sad indeed.

True Fasting is simply a statement of priorities –

My God, You are my sustenance. More important than any amount of physical satisfaction or pleasure.

When I am hungry He can literally satiate me, fill me. He says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6:35)

Fasting is like a “trust exercise” with God.

Fasting is like a trust exercise with God

Am I willing to see if He is trustworthy? How can I know if He will fill me if I continue to fill myself with everything else? How can I know if He will hold up His end of the bargain if I never give Him a chance?

Read Also:

PS. If the concept of fasting is appealing to you and you’ve tried and struggled with it in the past, it’s possible you just had the wrong approach. Fasting is a very precise practice that must be done from the right perspective, for the right reasons, and from the correct Source of strength in order to be a valuable or even possible practice. When I first began fasting, this book was my personal breakthrough after years of struggle with the practice and even the concept of fasting. I highly recommend it as a springboard to your fasting journey.

#5 – Mortification

What?! The last option is a big, scary, “archaic” word that means to “put to death”?

Yes. And just when you thought these couldn’t get any less appealing!

But, I promise you, it isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Mortification is simply a spiritual “workout” – and what’s more, if you attempt any of the previous 4 suggestions, you are already doing it!

It is super challenging if you’ve been sitting on the proverbial couch for a long time waiting for everything to just magically “come” to you, but that only makes it all the more important.

We MUST get up and do something before our muscles atrophy!

There is nothing exciting and pleasant about the idea of mortification, in fact it’s about as appealing as the idea of a triathlon to a video game addict who has lived on gas station burritos and frozen pizza for the last 10 years. But, that doesn’t make it any less critical to our spiritual health.

In the words of Chalene Johnson,

You don’t think about how you feel when you begin, you think about how you feel when you are DONE! THAT’s how you get “addicted” to exercise!

Besides, you don’t run that triathlon overnight. You don’t get up off the couch and start your very first day with a thousand squats. You have to work up to that as a goal. This takes time, persistence, gradual incremental increases. It means living on the edge of your comfort zone at all times with the goal to expand it. It means starting small, but choosing the “right thing” over the popular thing, or over what you “feel like” doing.

I will have a whole post on mortification, exactly what it is and how to do it very soon but for now let this be sufficient.

Spiritual Vibrancy 101

Our spiritual lives function very much the same as our mental, physical and emotional lives. They need a healthy diet and exercise to function at optimal capacity.

The difference is, growth and strength in the spiritual life is impossible and even unthinkable without some cooperation with Grace. Grace is the secret sauce for a vibrant spiritual life. It is free and undeserved gift that helps our wills, and consequently our actions, respond to God in a beautiful dance.

Grace is the secret to a vibrant spiritual life!

I am so glad you are here.

This battle with spiritual stagnancy does not mean that you are a bad person or a bad Christian. It doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong or that there is anything wrong with your heart. In fact, it is precisely the opposite. Complacency is where the problem lies. The fact that you are here means that you are willing to fight, to take action, to make a difference. You have noticed the yearning in your soul for the more you were created for. Asking the questions and finding the answers is the first step to actually resolving the issue.  Now all that is left is for us to cooperate with Grace, and let Him do His holy work in us.

Read also:

Transformation is almost never an easy, pleasant, or instant process, but it is a beautiful one. And I promise you, it is a fulfilling one.

You, my dear, were made for this… and it’s going to be incredible!

He’s got you.

Always,

~ Carolyn ~

Carolyn Pereira

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