“Does your spiritual life sometimes seem more like a burden than a blessing? Does your spirituality seem to exhaust you as often as it refreshes you? Have your spiritual practices become “just another thing to do” in an overcrowded, stress-filled schedule? If so, then you need to simplify your spiritual life. . . The growing frustrations of hurry and complexity affect the practice not only of our personal spiritual disciplines, but also of our congregational spiritual disciplines (the ones we practice with other Christians). There’s less time for church involvement than previously, and yet there are more church activities to choose from. We’re so far behind in so many things that sometimes we wonder if what we receive from church is worth the overwhelming effort just to get there.”
“In some ways we’re doing more than ever spiritually, but enjoying and profiting from it less. Many areas of our lives are productive and prosperous, yet we’ve never felt so spiritually withered. Our calendars are full, but our souls are empty. The time has come to evaluate whether what we are doing in our spiritual lives is taking us where we want to go.” (From Chapter 1 of Don Whitney’s book, “Simplify Your Spiritual Life”)
As you read the excerpt above, did it resonate with your current experience? Do you often find yourself “too busy to take time with God?” You are not alone. Even as a pastor, it is so easy for me to slip into a pattern in my schedule where what is most urgent displaces what is most important; where my personal time in Bible Study and Prayer is squeezed out by the immediate needs of church administration, program preparation, visitation, and family needs. I literally find myself having to fight to keep the right priorities, and I don’t always win.
But that does not mean it is OK to surrender. God’s design is not for us to live in defeat, as slaves to our flesh and to this world. As His children, His design is that we live victoriously in the grace of Christ, in the grace that has set us free from the world, the flesh, and the devil. But how do we do that? How do we recover from patterns of poor prioritization, from habits of spiritual neglect? Well, the first thing we must do is repent and seek God’s forgiveness. We’ve got to take responsibility for our failure and develop the disciplines of saying “No” to ourselves and to the things in our lives that are truly less important than our walk with God.
Then, we have to begin the hard work of reestablishing healthy spiritual habits. We may need to take baby-steps at first, but reinserting a mere 20 minutes a day into our schedule to read the Bible and pray Scripture would be a huge advancement in our spiritual revitalization. Once that habit is established, God will give us direction through His Word on how to build upon that foundation. But don’t get bogged down by the idea of ‘everything else’ before you even take the first step. Repent now, and get in the Word.
In addition to this first step of recovery, it is also beneficial to glean direction from solid Christian resources like the one cited above. I encourage you to pick up a copy of Whitney’s book and see how God might use it to help you “Simplify Your Spiritual Life.” I love you all dearly!