I have declared for myself that 2019 will be a year of spiritual growth.
This means that I will be doing things throughout the year that will help me grow closer to God. I want to be more Christ-like when we get to the end of this year than I was at the beginning. Admittedly, this is a hard thing to quantify. There are no objective standards of measurement that will let me know without question that I have grown in my faith. But I can devote my time and effort to spending time with God and that should lead me to where I want to go.
Before I go any further, however, I want to clarify a shortcoming of the church at large and take steps to rectify it.
The church has been good at telling us that we need to grow in our faith but has not always been effective in telling us how to do that. Unfortunately, I can be guilty of this as well. We are told to pray, but no one teaches us how. We know we should read the Bible, but we are overwhelmed at the prospect and get discouraged before we even start.
I am going to try to fix this by giving you some suggestions on how you can grow in faith. These are not “magic” answers. I do not guarantee results. In fact, I would encourage you to figure out the way your soul gets fed. What follows are the things that I do every day.
- Bible Reading. I read the Bible every day. I made a commitment several years ago to read through the Bible once each year. And each year I try to read a different Bible version. For most people reading the whole Bible will be too intimidating. That is why I encourage people to read the New Testament in the first year. You can do that in less than five minutes a day. The volume of reading is less important than the consistency and frequency of your reading.
- Devotional Reading. Each day I spend several minutes reading from a spiritual or ministry text. I generally alternate between a devotional book (think “The Upper Room”) and a church leadership or ministry book. Sometimes a spiritual biography will fit here. Recent biographies have included CS Lewis, John Wesley and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
- Bible Writing. Each day I copy 2-4 verses of the Bible. I write these out on notebook paper because it helps me to take some extra time with the Scriptures. I am almost finished writing all the Psalms, and then I will begin writing Acts since I will be preaching a series on that in the coming months.
- Journaling. This is the thing that I do and I believe is most difficult for people. But I try to make it as simple as possible. First, I use a spiral-bound notebook with wide-ruled paper. I write one page (one-side) each day. These journal entries are sometimes letters to God, sometimes they are poems. There have even been times when a passage of Scripture has moved me enough that I decided to paraphrase. There is no pressure to my journal, because as far as I am concerned no one will ever see it. It is a personal account of my relationship with God.
It may be that none of these suggestions appeal to you. That is fine. Find the practices, or disciplines, that fit your life and get started. You will not be sorry. I can already sense your faith is growing.