3 steps toward spiritual growth with God

God is Spirit and He is interested in seeing us develop spiritually. There is a lot of spiritual growth that can happen during our lifetime. Sometimes the growth goes fast and sometimes it takes a very long time. Being patient and being ok with a slow steady pace is actually a sign of spiritual maturity. Our spiritual self longs to be more like God. We are spiritual beings that need to exercise and grow. We spend a lot of time developing our physical strength and our physical abilities and it is time we paid attention to our spiritual development. Thankfully the Lord can assist us in our growth. He didn’t leave us to our own devices. His Spirit and His Word are with us on this journey. We can learn a lot from them and see growth. The Bible tells us to be doers of the Word and not just listeners so for us to grow spiritually there has to be some engagement and some effort on our part. It is not always easy and it doesn’t come naturally at times but the good news is that it will happen if we stick with it. Today I want to underline three steps toward our spiritual growth with God. Jesus is our best inspiration and our best role model. Let’s see what He shows us about spiritual growth.

Step 1: Developing a prayer life

When Jesus was on earth, He spent a lot of time in prayer. He got up early to pray. Sometimes He spent the whole night praying. He isolated Himself from people so He could be alone with the Father. Now, if Jesus needed to pray, we certainly need to do the same thing. Jesus being the Son of God had a direct line to the Father and yet He wanted to pray a lot. I noticed a while ago that prayer can seem very complicated and almost daunting. It can sound very ritualistic and mundane. It can be very formal and very out of touch with reality. That is how I described it to myself when I was growing up. A little over 17 years ago, my prayer life changed drastically. I set aside the formalities and I just talked to God. He knows everything about us and He knows what we need before we even ask. I made it simple. I talked to Him and approached Him like the Father that He is. I also realized that prayer was a two-way street and it was a time for us to listen to the Father. Sometimes we have to listen more than we speak. Prayer is an intimate time of fellowship with God  and it doesn’t have to be formal, tedious and boring. Start your day with prayer, talk to the Father and listen to His loving voice. Make time for prayer throughout the day and end the day on a peaceful prayer note.

Step 2: Making worship and praise a daily event

I know I mention praise and worship a lot and it is for a great reason. Praise and worship are a powerful way to adore the Lord, to honor Him and to show Him respect. David was a great worship leader who knew the heart of the Lord and because He did, He celebrated the Lord with worship. The Lord inhabits our praises so when we praise Him, we get closer to Him. Worship and praise bring the presence of the Lord onto the scene. Our spirits were meant to worship the Lord so when we do, we train ourselves to do what we were created to do. We shouldn’t wait until Sunday to worship the Lord. It should be a daily occurrence. I saw a powerful change in my prayer life when I attached praise and worship to it. I have also experienced great peace and joy throughout the day when I puncture the day with praise and worship. They are a great spiritual habit to uphold. On a few occasions Jesus sang hymns and praised God. If He did it then we ought to do it as well.

Step 3: Walking in love

These three steps are not meant to be in any particular order. As a matter of fact, they should be taken at the same time. One is not more important than the others but walking in love would be the top one if we were to choose one. God is love and we should follow His lead. He tells us to love Him and to love our neighbors like ourselves. Since God is love, walking in love is following in His footsteps. It is a very spiritual act and it draws us closer to God. We will make great progress if we are able to keep walking in love despite life. Life has a way of bringing us down or getting us frustrated and irritated. Things out of our control happen. We can’t make people do what we want and we can’t control their actions. However, we can control how much love we show them and how focused we are on Jesus when dealing with people and dealing with terrible circumstances. Jesus walked in love to the end. Nothing made Him change His mind about people. His love drove Him to do the unthinkable and to die for us. Love is a spiritual force that enables us to do the impossible.

There are other steps toward spiritual growth but these three steps can help us be on our way. It takes work and determination but we can ask God for His assistance. Let’s be fervent in our prayers. Let’s adore the Lord every day and let’s walk in love even when the road is paved with hurdles and trials!

Suggested reading: Mark 14:26; 1 Corinthians 16:14;  Ephesians 5:1-33

Turn up the volume of your praise and gratitude

About four years ago a friend of mine asked me what she could do to have a breakthrough in her life. She felt all dried up spiritually and her faith was getting weak. She wasn’t excited about the things of the Lord and she had lost her “God appetite.” She was just going through the motions with no hope of things getting better. I prayed for her. I prayed about her situation and I received a message that resonated with both of us. The message was that she needed to turn up the volume of her praise. She needed to go into praise mode more and to let it carry her to a higher place spiritually. I took that message personally as well and I put it into action. What unfolded in the days that followed was a new dimension in my relationship with the Lord. Turning up the volume of my praise allowed me to get closer to Him. It allowed me to embrace Him and to get connected with Him in a way that felt very special and very unique. I was very familiar with praise but I got a fresh revelation of the power of praise at that time. A few months later, I was in need of a spiritual boost and the message that came to me during prayer was to amplify my gratitude. Now, combining those two messages created a powerful formula. Turning up the volume of my praise and of my gratitude equals tapping into the heart of the Lord. Praise takes you where the Lord is and gratitude shows you who He is. Today I want to encourage you to turn up the volume of your praise and your gratitude. Increase them. Turn that dial and let your praise and gratitude be louder than fear and bitterness.

 

When my friend started praising more despite what was going on in her life, she saw a difference in the way she approached her situation. Fear decreased, her mood was good and her outlook on life was more positive. She looked forward to the praise sessions and she really got into them. What was happening was that she was getting into God’s atmosphere of peace and joy. The Spirit of the Lord hangs out in our praises. He is there when we exalt Jesus and His power taps us on the back and opens our eyes to a world of many possibilities. She found peace and joy at her fingertips when her hands were up toward the heavens as a sign or praise and adoration. She felt great during praise. She forgot about her problems. The more she did it, the less she heard the nagging from her problems. She found herself having more hope and giving more hope to people around her. God’s hope is contagious and she caught the bug that keeps on giving. If you need some encouragement or you need a little pick-me up, turn up the volume of your praise. It won’t feel normal if you are going through a tough time but it will diminish the power the problems have over your mind. It will help you renew your mind and think more like Christ. Be loud in your praise sessions. Be loud with your actions of praise. It doesn’t have to be music or songs, you can praise the Lord with your actions and with your attitude surrendered to Him. My friend became a “Praise before you worry” kind of person and I believe she still blasts the praises every day.

 

Turning up the volume of gratitude can come in very handy when frustration and bitterness try to get the best of you. They seep in and lead you straight down the path of negativity and keep you in a mental negative cell that you can’t get out of easily. They make you develop feelings that keep you from seeing God’s beauty and that prevent you from believing in His promises. The enemy wants you to be bitter and frustrated but gratitude removes the bitter look from your face and the frustration from your heart. Gratitude is an expression of faith. It is telling the Lord that you appreciate what He is doing even when you don’t see anything happening. Gratitude is the kind of attitude that rubs the enemy the wrong way. It is a form of praise and the enemy can’t stand praise. When you turn up the volume of your gratitude, the enemy will tell you that you are crazy and he will say that it doesn’t make sense. Now, remember. God’s wisdom is foolishness to the world and the enemy is the king of this world. Don’t pay attention to what he tells you. Thank the Lord for everything. Find things to be grateful for. Keep at it. Don’t put your guard down but be vigilant in gratitude and praise. When you focus on being grateful, you are not ignoring the pain and the troubles. You are rising above them and you are putting yourself in a position where they won’t have any effect on you. I have been there many times. I praised even when it hurt. I was grateful even when I felt cheated by life. Those moments were difficult but they quickly turned into opportunities to build up some faith muscles and to discover a new joy in the middle of chaos. Dear friend, turn up the volume of your praise and gratitude and you will see what the Lord does for you. Praise Him!

Suggested reading: Isaiah 25:1; Psalm 150:6; Acts 16:25