Getting Back in the Spiritual Groove
At the end of the summer, it’s not not uncommon for Christians to feel distant from the Lord and dry in their soul. During the summer months we typically get out of our normal schedules and routines, we go on vacations, things are generally more laid back, and it’s easy to become lazy. This naturally affects our spiritual disciplines. Our time spent communing with God in His Word and prayer often becomes sporadic and in some cases non-existent. Neglecting, rushing, or simply going through the motions of our “quiet time” inevitably results in a cold, dreary heart toward God and a lack of zeal for His glory. That might be the condition of your heart right now. But it doesn’t have to remain that way.
My own heart was recently encouraged when I read the August 11 entry of Spurgeon’s classic devotional Morning and Evening. Here is what he wrote:
Numbers of Christians can view the past with pleasure, but regard the present with dissatisfaction; they look back upon the days which they have passed in communing with the Lord as being the sweetest and the best they have ever known, but as to the present, it is clad in a sable garb of gloom and dreariness. Once they lived near to Jesus, but now they feel that they have wandered from Him, and they say, "O that I were as in months past!" They complain that they have lost their evidences, or that they have not present peace of mind, or that they have no enjoyment in the means of grace, or that conscience is not so tender, or that they have not so much zeal for God's glory. The causes of this mournful state of things are manifold. It may arise through a comparative neglect of prayer, for a neglected closet is the beginning of all spiritual decline. Or it may be the result of idolatry. The heart has been occupied with something else, more than with God; the affections have been set on the things of earth, instead of the things of heaven. A jealous God will not be content with a divided heart; He must be loved first and best. He will withdraw the sunshine of His presence from a cold, wandering heart. Or the cause may be found in self-confidence and self-righteousness. Pride is busy in the heart, and self is exalted instead of lying low at the foot of the cross. Christian, if you are not now as you "were in months past," do not rest satisfied with wishing for a return of former happiness, but go at once to seek your Master, and tell Him your sad state. Ask His grace and strength to help you to walk more closely with Him; humble yourself before Him, and He will lift you up, and give you yet again to enjoy the light of His countenance. Do not sit down to sigh and lament; while the beloved Physician lives there is hope, nay there is a certainty of recovery for the worst cases.
As we move into the Fall season and get back into our regular routines at work, school, and church, let me encourage you to get back into a the groove of spending time with God on a daily basis. Begin by admitting to Him where you are at spiritually, confess any self-confidence or self-righteousness, put off anything that has distracted your heart from Him, and ask Him to revive your passion for Him and restore your intimacy with Him and grant you the grace and strength to read His Word and pray every day.
Be sure to set a consistent time and place for your daily devotions. It also helps to have some sort of reading plan rather than just turning to “wherever the Spirit leads you.” For instance, pick a book of the Bible and read a chapter or two a day until you’re finished and then go on to another one. Or you can choose a short book, like Lamentations or Philippians, and read through it every day for thirty days. If you’ve never developed the habit of having a “quiet time” before, you could start by reading a Psalm a day or the Proverb that corresponds with the day of the month. Whatever plan you choose, the key is walking away from your time in God’s Word with a verse or phrase or word or principle or command or warning or promise that you can mull over and apply during the course of your day.
The first step to implementing biblical truth into your life is to pray about it. Talking to God about what you just read is the most natural way to transition into a time of prayer. Then take a moment to praise and thank God for who He is and what He has done for you. Confess any sin in your life and then spend the remainder of your prayer time interceding for your family members, your neighbors, coworkers, classmates, fellow church members, and our church along with its various ministries and missionaries.
It always takes a few weeks to get back in the groove of work or school, and it’s the same when it comes to getting back close to God. So start small and stick with it and you will once again enjoy the sweet sunshine of His presence in your life.