This is the second post in a mini-series on Spiritual disciplines. You can go back and read part 1: Foundations of Spiritual Growth for the Busy Homemaker.
Last week we discussed that when it comes to our own spiritual growth, we do have an element of responsibility. But at the same time, it’s only in God’s strength and through His working that we grow. We rely on God’s grace and grow through His strength…but we are also to be diligent in obeying His commands.
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So how do we grow our faith? How can we get back on track in our Bible reading and prayer with the purpose of obeying God and drawing closer to Him?
Growth should be a normal part of our life
“Growth is also a normal expression of the Christian life. The New Testament writers assume growth and constantly urge us to pursue it. Peter urges us to ‘Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18). Paul instructs u that by ‘speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ’ (Ephesians 4:15).” – Growing Your Faith by Jerry Bridges
As Christians, when we look back and reflect on the past year or the past ten years, we should see growth in our spiritual life. We are not meant to be stagnant when it comes to maturing in Christ.
Of course, we do have times when we fall back into old sins or seem to be stagnant, but we shouldn’t be okay with that. And it shouldn’t become the normal in our lives. We should be striving to grow with each passing day, even when that growth is very slow and steady.
“Spiritual growth occurs as a result of intentional and appropriate effort. The word intentional implies a diligent pursuit of a clear goal. Appropriate indicates that we must use the God-given ways of growth given to us in the Bible. We usually refer to these ways of growth as ‘spiritual disciplines.” – Growing Your Faith by Jerry Bridges
And that’s what we are talking about today. Those disciplines that we practice such as Bible reading and prayer that draw us closer to God.
We practice these disciplines because:
1) God has commanded us to
2) They are the avenue through which God has given us to know Him more so that we can be transformed more into the likeness of Christ.
Too often we wait for a “feeling” or a desire to want to read God’s Word. We don’t “feel” close to God so we don’t pray or dig into His Word. But we shouldn’t wait for these feelings, because they may never come or only seldom come.
We disciplines ourselves to read God’s Word and pray, not because we have to, but because we love God and are motivated to know Him more. Bible reading and prayer are simply two ways in which God has given us to accomplish that.
It’s primarily through God’s perfect word that we come to know Him more. We can observe God through nature and learn certain lessons, but it’s only through God’s word that we see the complete and whole story of who God is and His character.
It is through studying God’s Word that we come to know him more and more. It’s through Scripture that we learn to put off the things of this world, to say no to ungodliness and to say yes to pursing a holy life more and more.
“The primary means of growth God has given us is His Word. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:2 that ‘like newborn babies, [we should] crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.’ Although Peter does not explicitly use a word for Scripture, five commentaries I researched all agree that ‘pure spiritual milk’ is a metaphor for the Word of God. Just as a newborn baby is frequently hungry and cries to be fed, so we are to have a similar spiritual hunger for the Word of God that we may grow.” – Growing Your Faith by Jerry Bridges
And from my own experience in life, when I’m actively and consistency in God’s Word, others areas in my life and other aspects of my relationship with God grow, such as a deeper prayer life. Consistent and deep Bible reading is what sparks and fuels a deeper spiritual life and helps draw you closer to the Lord.
“One thing we can be sure of: If we do not actively seek to come under the influence of God’s Word, we will come under the influence of sinful society around us.” – Growing Your Faith by Jerry Bridges
If you want to dive deeper into different methods for Bible reading listen to: Hf #25: Developing the Habit of Daily Bible Reading.
The second Spiritual Discipline that we should focus on is prayer. I’ve gotten into a fairly good habit of daily Bible reading, but working on my prayer life feels harder.
Maybe because it feels more elusive than picking some chapters to read, or making a list of books to read. Maybe it’s because other people’s prayer lives are so private so even when people share that they are praying for such and such a thing, we don’t ever see or hear what that looks like.
But for whatever reason, prayer can be a hard discipline to cultivate. And yet, it’s one of the most important things we can do to draw closer to the Lord.
“Jesus Expects Us to pray. Don’t think of prayer as an impersonal requirement. Realize that it is a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, with all authority and with all love, who expects us to pray. These excerpts from His words show that He Himself expects us to pray:
Matthew 6:5, ‘And when you pray…’
Maathew 6:6, ‘But when you pray…’
Matthew 6:7, ‘And when you pray…’
Matthew 6:9, ‘This, then, is how you should pray…’
Luke 11:9, ‘So I say to you: ask….;seek….;knock…’
Luke 18:1, ‘Then Jesus told his disciples…they should always pray.’
Suppose Jesus appeared to you personally, much as He did to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos in Revelation 1, and said that He expected you to pray. Wouldn’t you become more faithful in prayer, knowing specifically that Jesus expected that of you? Well, the words of Jesus quoted above are as much His will for you as if He spoke your name and said them to you face to face.” – Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
Ouch. This really convicts me. I know that I should pray. I know it should be part of my daily habit. But I don’t often think about it in such personal and relatable terms. When I pray, I am speaking directly with my Lord and savior. And He wants me to pray!
A deep and thoughtful prayer life goes hand in hand with reading God’s Word. When we are intaking His Word, letting it saturate our hearts, transform our lives, then we are getting to know our Lord more. We are convicted of our own sin more. We see areas we need to improve in. And then we can take this all back to God.
We become more sensitive to the things of God and thus are more willing and eager to turn our heart and our mind to him.
If you are struggling to cultivate a deeper prayer life, then I encourage you to listen to this: Hf #27: Methods for a Deeper Prayer Life.
Throughout this year, I have been doing more study on other spiritual disciplines such as fellowship and community and journaling so I’m hoping to share more about that in future episodes.
But I know how overwhelming it can be to try and tackle 10 different things at once to work on. So I want to encourage you to just focus on these two things.
- The first, is getting more consistent with your Bible reading or going deeper. Maybe you manage to read a few bible verses every day, so you’ve got a good habit down. Now try and stretch that reading to 5-10 minutes a day and so forth.
- Then once you’ve got the habit down and are in God’s word more and more, I would suggest you turn some attention to cultivating a deeper prayer life. And like I said, one effects the other. So as you dive in deeper to God’s word, your prayer life should also become deeper and more intimate.
“Remember our definition of grace. Jesus has already earned God’s favor for you. Just as you can do nothing to earn your salvation (the most important blessing of all), so you can do nothing to earn God’s favor in your daily life. If you do not grasp this truth, the spiritual disciplines that are intended to help you grow will become burdensome duties you think you must practice in order to maintain God’s favor.” – Growing Your Faith by Jerry Bridges
Resource of the Week:
Finding Joy in Your Home – Essential Habits for Christian Homemakers (FREE eCourse!)
In this free eCourse, I cover the basics of Bible reading and prayer among the five essential habits for Christian homemakers. Throughout the course we also cover things like setting the atmosphere in your home, establishing a morning and evening routine and more!
If you are struggling to manage the chaos, if you are feeling bored or overwhelmed with your homemaking duties, then I want to invite you to join my free eCourse and discover how you can find more joy, peace, and tranquility in your home!
Free Month of Jelly Telly
I am also really excited to introduce our very first sponsor to the podcast: Jelly Telly – a Christian based video streaming service for kids. And let me tell you, it rocks!
Basically Jelly Telly is a sort of Bible-based Netflix for kids. They have over 100 different shows with a few of our very favorites being What’s in the Bible, Owlegories, and Theo.
My kids and I have been playing around with JellyTelly and exploring it and are totally in love. It’s coming at a good time since its wet and rainy out and we just had our baby girl Magnolia. We are all locked up inside a lot right now and I LOVE being able to tame some of the craziness with Bible-based tv shows.
I feel so good knowing that I can hand the boys my iPhone and I don’t have to worry about what they might get into or click on to watch next. It’s so fun to hear the boys singing along with hymns from Theo or reciting the books of the Bible with What’s in the Bible.
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