Make Spiritual Growth Happen!
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I was saved in high school and quickly learned I knew nothing about being a Christian. As I have grown in my faith and in my love for Jesus and God’s Word, I have come to realize that spiritual growth is not a given. It is something that must be worked at and sometimes fought for. Establishing spiritual habits is one of the best ways to build a foundation for spiritual growth.
Just like anytime you start something new and different, establishing habits for spiritual growth can feel like climbing a never-ending mountain. I encourage you as we look together at these spiritual habits not to focus on how hard this could be. Instead, focus on how much you could gain.
Spiritual Growth Habit 1 – Read Your Bible Every Day
The Bible is God’s message to you. It is the primary tool God has given you so that you can get to know Him personally. It reveals His love for you.
And if you are seriously pursuing spiritual growth, then you must read it every day. This is a non-negotiable. Reading for just 5 minutes a day is a good place to start. If you are sincere in desiring to hear from God during this time, you will soon find that 5 minutes isn’t enough.
Imagine if you were dating someone new. You might start with just meeting for coffee once a week. But, once you realized you like each other, that time would not be enough. Soon you would find yourself spending part of every day together.
It’s the same with God’s Word. The more you read it – and listen to the Spirit teaching you through it – the more of it you want.
Start with giving 5 minutes to God – then see what He does!
How to find those 5 minutes? Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Set your alarm a little earlier, have your Bible right beside your bed, and read a chapter of a gospel before you get out of bed.
- If you have little ones that still nap, use the first 5 minutes after they’re down to meet with the Lord. Before laundry. Before meal prep. Before mopping. Before your own nap!
- If you commute to a job, use a Bible app to listen to a 1 – 3 chapters on your drive. Keep the amount short, even if you have a long drive, so that you can focus on the message. Listen to your chapter(s), pray, then listen again.
- On your lunch break at your job, skip scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and read a psalm and a chapter from an epistle from a Bible app. Choose an app that lets you make notes about your reading and bookmarks where you stopped. I personally use both YouVersion and Bible Gateway as my go-to apps.
- After dinner, read aloud a short passage while everyone is still at the table. Ask anyone old enough to comment on what was read. Later – maybe after the kids are in bed – read the same passage by yourself and pray over what was said at the dinner table.
- Keep your Bible beside your bed and read a portion every night before turning off the lights.
Hopefully, this list will help you see small pockets of time where you can carve out 5 minutes for God’s Word. Soon you may find yourself reading God’s Word for 15 minutes or more each day!
Spiritual Growth Habit 2 – Pray Every Day
Along with reading your Bible daily, praying every day is a non-negotiable for spiritual growth. Reading the Bible is God speaking to you. Prayer is you speaking to God. And just like any conversation – both sides are needed.
You will eventually find yourself going back and forth between reading and praying. This is a good thing! If all you do is read the Bible, you aren’t going to grow as much as if you pray and read the Bible. On the other hand, if all you do is pray, you aren’t going to grow as much as if you pray and read the Bible.
Prayer and Bible reading – they go hand-in-hand. So, the suggestions above about finding time for reading the Bible? They work for finding time for prayer also.
As you work on building your prayer muscles through establishing a prayer habit, I urge you to keep a prayer journal. Keeping a record of your prayers helps you to see when, where, and how God works in response to your prayer.
Whether you use a detailed prayer journal or just a simple method of tracking prayers and answers, seeing God at work will help your faith grow.
More posts about prayer:
20 Ways to Pray Summary |10 Lists to Improve Your Prayer Life
20 Biblical Ways to Pray for Your Wife
Pray for Your Country and Government | Memorial Day
Spiritual Growth Habit 3 – Attend a Bible-teaching Church Every Week
In many places around the world, believers risk death for attending church. But here in the United States – and in the West generally – believers tend to take that privilege for granted. Some even make excuses as to why they don’t or can’t go to church.
- The church is full of hypocrites
- The church doesn’t “meet my needs”
- Sunday is my only day to sleep in
- Jesus still loves me, even if I don’t go to church
- I’m saved by grace, not by going to church
- All they ever talk about is money
- I don’t want to see so-and-so ‘cause I’m mad at him/her
- And so on…
I could answer each of these excuses – but those that make them know already that they are just excuses. Anyone can find an excuse not to go to church if they’re determined not to go.
Then there are those who say that they can worship God anywhere – like in the mountains or on a lake. Which is true – you can worship God anywhere. And you should. But that should never take the place of church.
The Bible is clear: Jesus died for the church (Ephesians 5:25), Jesus is building His church (Matthew 16:18), the church is trusted with sharing the truth of Jesus with the world (Acts 1:8; 2:42-47; 13:1-4; Romans 10:14-15), believers are not to abandon the church (Hebrews 10:23-25), and Jesus will one day present the church to Himself as a bride (Ephesians 5:27).
The church is the Christian’s family while living in an unredeemed world, surrounded by unbelieving people. You need the church. And the church needs you.
If you don’t belong to a Bible-teaching church, start looking for one now. Start with prayer. Ask for recommendations. Review the doctrinal statements on church websites. You may need to visit several churches before you find the right one for you and your family. Don’t give up. God has a place for you where you can grow and serve and find help for life’s troubles.
Spiritual Growth Habit 4 – Join a Small Group
Worshipping Jesus together with the church is wonderful. But finding a group of like-minded believers to share the struggles and victories of your life with is even better. That’s what a small group is for.
Whatever church you attend, they most likely have small groups. Those groups might be called Small Groups, Life, Groups, Sunday School Classes, Discipleship Groups, or some other term. It doesn’t matter what name the group has. What matters is that you find one and commit!
Just like finding a church to attend can be challenging – so can finding a small group. And just like finding a church – don’t give up until you find the right small group for you.
The small group you join should feel like a family quickly. You should be able to bare your heart, knowing that these people will pray with you and for you, and that they will not share your personal struggles with others.
Your small group should encourage you to grow in faith by asking spiritual questions like
- How is your devotional life?
- What can I pray for you?
- Where are you serving in the church?
- How are you serving Jesus?
- What challenges are you facing in your faith right now?
- Who have you invited to church or Bible study lately?
- Who have you shared Jesus with?
- Who outside of your family and church are you praying for?
Questions like these from those who love you are a key to growing strong in faith. Your small group should never let you settle for “good enough.”
Four Bonus Habits for Spiritual Growth
The first four habits we’ve covered are essential for spiritual growth. They are the foundation, the starting point, the first steps. If you are not regularly engaging in each of those four habits, start there.
You may feel like a failure for not being able to recite thousands of Bible verses, not being able to teach Bible studies, not knowing how to share Jesus with others, not going on missions trips, or maybe not even serving in your own church. If that’s you, listen up: STOP IT!
No-one grows up overnight. God is taking us all on our own journeys of growth. Your spiritual growth will not look like mine. Mine will not look like my friend’s. My friend’s journey will not look like Miss So-and-So.
What will be the same, however, is that we all must do the basics well and do them repeatedly. The first four habits – reading the Bible daily, praying daily, attending a Bible-teaching church every week, and joining a small group – are the basics.
Start there. Move on to more habits for spiritual growth when you need to.
That said, I’m only going to touch on four additional ways you can work on your spiritual growth. And, no, this list of eight is not all there is! God can, and does, use many tools to make us more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29).
When you memorize Scripture God’s Spirit writes God’s Word on your heart. You will never be without His Word no matter where you are, if you commit to memorizing it. Scripture memorization is a blessing. But it can also be challenging.
When you start on this habit, don’t be too hard on yourself. The older we get, the harder it is to memorize anything – including Scripture. But don’t let yourself off the hook just because you’re not as young as you wish you were! Try meditating on Scripture as you memorize it – that will help.
If you aren’t serving anywhere and have never served anywhere – don’t put this off too long. The longer you go with just “sitting and soaking” instead of sharing through serving, the harder it is to change.
Start small – maybe serving as a greeter one Sunday a month? Or working in the children’s ministry every other month? If you are willing, your church has a place for you. If they don’t have a place for you to serve, you are probably in the wrong church!
Once you’re comfortable serving inside the church, branch out. The lost don’t come to the church – you (and I) need to go to them.
Study the Bible Regularly
Studying the Bible is different from reading it. Studying is taking longer to dig deeper. The Holy Spirit has an easier time getting to the root of your issues, problems, and sins when you spend extended time in the Word.
If you don’t know where or how to start, using the simple SOAP Method may help. You might also want some guidance on how to get started.
Go on a Short-Term Mission Trip as Often as You Can
Finally, at some point, every believer in the United States needs to go on a short-term mission trip. These trips usually last one to two weeks. They can be inside the country or to a foreign country. They could be focused on children’s ministry, construction, healthcare, or outreach.
Seeing people in need of Jesus outside of your own bubble of experience can be life-changing. In fact, it should be life-changing! Books like this and this can help transport us to other parts of the world, but there is nothing like seeing for yourself the desperation most of the world lives with daily.
They need Jesus. You have Jesus. It’s a match made in heaven.People need Jesus. You have Jesus. It's a match made in heaven. Click To Tweet
Your Spiritual Growth is Your Responsibility
You are saved by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nothing you have done or can do amounts to anything next to the debt of your sin. This is true for all people, for all time.
But once you’ve committed yourself to Christ and received His forgiveness and salvation, you have work to do (Ephesians 2:10). You are expected to grow from desiring only the milk of the Word to feasting on the meat of the truths of God (Hebrews 5:12-14). No shortcut to maturity in Christ exists. It takes effort, but the rewards are more than you can imagine.
My challenge to you is this: Choose which habit you will focus on for the next 30 days. Commit to being faithful to that one thing for a month. If you are still struggling after a month, extend it for another 30 days.
But after (at the most) 60 days, add a second habit. Commit to it for a month. Then add a third, then a fourth. Keep going until Jesus calls you home. The only finish line is heaven. Strive to live so that you will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” when you enter His presence.