Peter ends his second letter in 2 Peter 3:18 with this encouragement. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Every Christian feels that inner desire to get closer to God and to grow in their faith. But there are times when we feel like we're stuck, not growing, and need a bit of help to get back on track. The key is "activating" your faith. Over time, even the most mature Christians find themselves needing to do some reflecting and reenergizing of their faith. If you want to grow spiritually, here are five things you can do to get moving again in your relationship with Christ.
1) Pray. Talk to God and listen to what he wants to say to you. That means several times a day spend a few minutes before the Lord talking to him about your desires, what you appreciate, and your needs. Also spend some time listening. Just sit quietly before the Lord and allow him to impress on you things that are important. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
2) Read the Bible. The Bible is an engaging book that allows God to speak directly to you. Plan to spend about 20 minutes alone with God to read, meditate, and pray. As you read, look for practical applications that God might share with you for today. (Joshua 1:8)
3) Serve. Watch God work through you as you serve him. The tasks you do are more than just busy work, they contribute to the bigger picture of God's work in the world. Don't serve to get a reward from people. Instead do your work of service before God. He is the one you are pleasing. (1 Peter 4:11)
4) Join a group of others who are growing. Find a small group that allows you to see others growing and focus your growth in a specific area. This might be a men's or women's group, a Bible study, or a support group for addictions, parenting, finances, marriage, etc. As you spend time looking at God's Word, discussing it, sharing, and praying for each other, God works in and through you. (Galatians 6:2)
5) Spend time fellowshipping with Christians. Being with other believers enhances your growth. You get to hear stories of God's work, share mutual concerns, receive and give prayer, and enjoy life with other believers. Healthy friendships and Christian relationships enhance spiritual growth. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Many Christians find it helpful to journal about their spiritual growth. Sometimes we feel as if we're not growing or that God isn't speaking but when we go back to our journal entries, we are reminded of God's faithfulness and direction.
Be Careful of These Mistakes
1) Don't rely on feelings to measure your spirituality.
2) Don't view the church as the source of your spiritual strength. It's just the arena where spiritual growth is practiced and where opportunities exist. If you're looking for a perfect church, then it's likely not the best place for you to grow. You need a church that is scripturally sound, is reasonably stable and loving, has godly, moral leadership, and is doing their best to exalt Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
3) Don't blame your lack of spiritual vitality on others like your mate, friends, or even your church. Take responsibility for your own spiritual growth and watch God work in significant ways.
4) Don't measure spiritual growth in terms of good things happening to you. Sometimes the best growth takes place during times of pain and suffering.
5) Don't process mistakes and sin in terms of rejection or inadequacy before God.
A Practical Exercise In the same way that physical growth takes place with good nutrition and exercise, spiritual growth requires some intentionality. If you do the following exercise several days this week, by next week you will be able to look back and see progress in your spiritual growth.
1) Get alone and quiet for 20 minutes. Start your time with the Lord with prayer by closing your eyes and asking God to remove the distractions and to speak to you.
2) Spend 5-10 minutes reading some portion of the Bible. You might start with the gospel of John, the book of James, or Proverbs. As you read, look for something in the passage that you can relate to, something that strikes you from the text.
3) Choose one idea from the text and pray it back to God. That is, share with him what you've read and ask him to teach you something about him, about yourself, or about his plan.
4) Ask God to reveal his power, teach you something new today, or bring you across someone who might confirm what God is doing.
5) Watch in the course of the day for God's hand in motion and working. You might pause a couple more times during the day to remind yourself of what you read or prayed, just to remind you to be spiritually aware.
6) When God reveals himself even in small ways, thank him and share it with someone else.
Spiritual growth is a beautiful thing. Watching God work in you and through you is a worship experience. Be sure to keep a careful balance between serving and growing. Although they contribute to each other, both are important to maximize your spiritual life.