We can all point to times in our Christian life when we were more spiritually lazy than we’d like to admit. It may show up as subpar quiet times, or distractibility during prayer, less motivation to serve others, or an unimpressive desire to learn and grow. Whatever the cause, and whatever the symptoms, we shouldn’t stay in that kind of funk for long. In fact, we should work as hard as we can to fight any forms of spiritual laziness. As Romans 12:11 says, we don’t want to be “slothful in zeal,” but rather “fervent in spirit.”
So of course, let’s throw off the sloth, and fight for that fervor! But the question is, how? Sometimes all it takes is a little reminder to make the needed changes…. Then there are other times when a more strategic effort is required. And when that’s the case, here are 5 things I’ve found helpful when I’m not quite as “fervent in Spirit” as I ought to be:
1. Pray for Strength
It might seem silly to point you to prayer when you’re feeling spiritually lazy, but it really is the best place to start. I’m not saying start with a solid chunk of amazing prayer time, I’m saying call out to God for help everyday until you have that solid chunk of amazing prayer time.
Each day, maybe several times a day, ask God to help you want to seek him more. Beg him to give you a desire for spiritual things. I’m quite sure it’s a prayer he’ll be happy to answer (in the affirmative).
2. Don’t Go into Hiding
When we are not where we know we should be, it’s natural to hide from others. I mean, who wants to be exposed in their weakness? But going solo is not particularly helpful. It’s far better to tell someone (or a few someone’s) we are struggling. Just their knowledge alone can hold us accountable to making spiritual progress. And in all likelihood, your friends will encourage you, pray for you, and help you move forward (assuming you told godly people).
All that to say, don’t go at it alone. Tell someone where you’re at spiritually, tell them where you want to be, and move forward with sisters-in-Christ by your side!
3. Give Your Desire a Jump Start
Determine what it is you need to improve on, and then see if you can add in some extra motivation. For example, if it’s your Bible reading that’s lacking, maybe you’d thrive off of some new goals, or maybe you need to liven up the scenery. Maybe you can make yourself a daily special treat to enjoy during your quiet times while you re-establish good Bible reading habits (and then work on your eating habits next week!).
Or if you are struggling to focus during prayer, maybe buy yourself a fancy pen and a new prayer journal. Or try a prayer schedule that changes up your prayer routine (one day do a prayer walk, one day use a prayer journal, one day go through a prayer list, one day focus only on praising God, etc).
While spiritual disciplines are worthwhile in and of themselves, we sometimes forget that. But if we can get ourselves to jump back in with a little extra motivation, we will soon see what we’ve been missing…and missing it will no longer be a good option!
4. Just Start Somewhere
Sometimes we don’t want to head towards progress because we feel so far away from the end goal. Maybe you remember that feeling from college: when it was so hard to start writing a long paper because all you could think about was how many pages you had to write. But the paper only gets written by those who start somewhere! And so it is with spiritual growth. Sure you might have a loooooonnnnng way to go, but you will only make progress if you start making progress (I know, deep, huh?).
In other words, don’t think about the amount of time you wish you could spend in prayer. Just start small and start praying. Don’t get overwhelmed because you are behind in Bible reading, just commit to reading something each day. Don’t dwell on how many sin issues you have to work on, just fight for holiness the next opportunity you get! In the words of Elizabeth Elliot (and Anna in Disney’s Frozen), just do the next right thing,
5. Get Determined, Not Discouraged
It’s easy to get down on ourselves when we wish we were further along. But sulking in discouragement won’t do much good.
Instead, realize that everyone has times when they are not as disciplined as they should be. We are weak in our flesh and at times we will struggle. But the question is, what will you do when you notice your weakness? Will you sit in it, or will you get up and get moving? Basically, our momentary discouragement should quickly change into determination!
Don’t spend your time thinking about how bad you are, instead focus on how good God is, and how good it will be to pursue him whole-heartedly! It really will be good — sometimes we just need to get over that lazy hump so we can get going again.
So if you are feeling spiritually slothful these days, pray for strength, get some accountability, get motivated, start somewhere and get moving! Your only regret will be not doing it soon enough.