We live in a time where almost anything is accessible instantaneously. If we want to know the latest world headlines, we can open an app on our phone. If we are hungry, we can order from a restaurant and have a meal delivered to our door. We can browse thousands of websites, buy any product that appeals to us with only a few clicks of the mouse, and have it shipped “rushed delivery” to our front door. Many of these advances are good and make our lives convenient and comfortable. However, there is a danger when we try to apply these expectations of instantaneous gratification to our spiritual life and daily walk with God. Over the last few years, I have been challenged in several areas of my life in regards to this. Here are some of the lessons I have learned and am still continuing to learn to this day.
Setting time aside for focused prayer was always a challenge for me. It was easy to pray with others, but cultivating a lifestyle of prayer without prompting from someone else was an uphill battle. One of the lessons I learned is that so much of my spiritual health depends upon my prayer life. I found that developing a life of prayer outside of a Sunday service or a weeknight prayer gathering was imperative in my pursuit towards greater purity and wholeness. It takes time, commitment and perseverance to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer. This quote from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City says it so well, “We must fight to cultivate our prayer lives, because they won’t develop on their own.”
For a while, it was easy for me to settle for reading the Word through my daily devotionals only. Although reading those daily devotionals is good and I was blessed by many of the readings, I also knew that I needed more. At first I tried to find the time to read and study His Word, but that was short-lived because I always seemed to have another meeting, another email, or another project to work on. By the time I finished my work for the evening, I was too tired to read and study. I learned that I needed to make the time to study His Word. I began to see that the truth of God’s Word was transforming my mind and my life and influencing my pursuit of greater purity and wholeness. This quote from Charles Spurgeon should challenge us all, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.”
I have always known that fasting is Biblical but I always found it hard to do. I like food and so fasting, even if for just one meal, was always a struggle. So instead of fasting a meal, I would choose the occasional “fast” of chocolates, movies, or something that was good to take a break from. However, that didn’t challenge me in such a way that would make me run to God for strength and dependence. Of course there are some people, perhaps even you, that can’t fast and go without food for health or dietary reasons. However, in my own life I wouldn’t decide not to fast food just because I wasn’t willing to forego something that would make me uncomfortable and hungry. I have decided to do this because I have learned that there is great power and breakthrough that comes through fasting. How do I know this? First, I can see examples of it in the Word. Secondly, I have also experienced God’s powerful work and breakthrough as it pertains to my own pursuit of purity and wholeness. I now value fasting more than ever before for the simple reason that I have seen how effective it is in my life. Let’s reflect on this quote from D.L. Moody, “If you say, ‘I will fast when God lays it on my heart,’ you never will. You are too cold and indifferent to take the yoke upon you.”
We will never regret the pursuit of God. If we want to grow in spiritual maturity we need to leave behind the habits of our spiritual adolescence.
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