Spiritual Exercise

runningI’ve done it! I lost .2 lbs in the last week. That is a grand total of 12 lbs since I first started Weight Watchers. I had thought I’d reached my first goal by now and working on my second, but I’ll take it. What has happened is that I’ve plateaued. I’ve been at a loss of 10lbs for the last few weeks. So I added on exercising at Planet Fitness. I started lifting weights again (which I love doing) and adding cardio as well. I even started doing the jogging/walking intervals on the treadmill. And I’ve lost 1/4 of an inch around my waist. So, something’s happening, right? But I’m working at it and slowly seeing results.

Spiritual exercising is a bit like physical exercising. You’re doing it to be healthy spiritually. We are made up of mind, body, and soul. We are, as CS Lewis put it, not a body with a soul but a soul with a body. We are made for God. And we are made to communion with God. Yet we need to work at it as well. We can’t just be fully passive in what we do.

Think of it like a friendship. You must work at friendships. Relationships that are cordial and just do nothing are just that. But friendships are built. They are built through time together.

The same is true with a relationship with God through Jesus. We must spend time building that relationship and come to know Him. God tells us repeatedly in the Old Testament that when we search for Him with all of our heart, He will be found by us. Jesus says come to me all who are thirsty, all who are thirsty for God, and He will quench that thirst.

We come broken, thirsty, and craving more of God. Many have this craving and call it a desire to be spiritual. True spirituality comes from knowing the living God. True spirituality comes from walking with Jesus and following the Holy Spirit. And we come to know God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–through spiritual exercising.

cross shadowWhen we don’t do spiritual exercises we become flabby around the spiritual middle. We begin to loose touch with spiritual matters and keep going onward not realizing just how bad things have become until we realize we need God at that moment. I realized this physically when my button up dress shirts stopped fitting and I had to buy a bunch in a sie larger. I had not paid attention to my physical health. We need to pay just as much attention to our spiritual health too.

How do we do this?

Through prayer. Prayer is the greatest thing we can do to connect with God It is through prayer that we listen to Him and are guided by Him. Through prayer he speaks to us as we speak to Him. Prayer is a conversation with the most holy God. And we boldly approach the throne of the Maker of the universe in the name of Jesus. And He hears us. And he responds to us. In this way, we stay connected to God, by Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Through reading Scripture. Keep in God’s Word. This is the best way to come to a fuller and deeper understanding of who God is. Many times I’ve heard people say, I’ve heard all the stories before. And then I tell them about Ezekiel seeing the rings of fire within rings of fire and the man with a head of an eagle, a bull, a lion, and a man… and then blow their mind. There’s so much richness to Scripture. There’s so much richness to reading through it. If it’s been a while since you’ve read through the Bible, or if you’ve not cracked on open in a long forever, start with the Gospel of Mark, it’s quick, fast paced and tells you about following Jesus. But stay in God’s word.

Through fasting. Now, this one I don’t recommend to do on a regular basis. I’ve fasted a couple of times and have learned what to do and what not to do. When you fast, you set aside all earthly things to focus on God. A year or so back, I decided to fast. I lost 10lbs in a week and felt woozy. An older pastor friend gave me this advice: drink water, drink some chocolate milk, eat a little bit of soup. But set all things else aside and focus on praying to God. Now, some people post on Facebook that they’re going to do a technological fast. Or that they’re fasting. Don’t let people know you’re fasting, just do it. And do it with focusing on God. But don’t do it all the time. This is for important matters.

Through journaling. I’ve used this habit and exercise off an on since 2007. It’s been a blessing. Keep with it. Write down your prayers. Write down your struggles. Write down where you’ve seen God at work. Write down how He’s been active in your life. Write down where you haven’t seen Him at work. And then take time to read through it. You’ll see God active in  your life as you write down things. Now, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do it all the time. Just do it for a season or two and then let it rest and come back to it.

Now, this isn’t an exhaustive list. But it’s a start. It’s something to start with and work on. Take time to focus on God. Take time to place your trust in Him. Bring Him your thirstyness, your brokenness, and your tiredness. And through Jesus, he will fill you and make you whole. But we must start by coming to Him. Come to him and you He will be found when you search for Him with all your heart.

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