5 Ways We Stunt Our Spiritual Growth
I woke up one morning, keen to find time for communion with God. But first my kids needed breakfast. One thing led to another, and before I knew it the day was past and I had not spent time in my Bible or prayer.
With a heavy heart, I realized that in the 168 hours that made up my week, I could hardly carve out one hour for communion with God.
Does this sound familiar?
We all have different reasons for neglecting our spiritual health, and as I sought counsel and began to examine the motivations of my heart, I saw a pattern emerge. Many of us unintentionally stunt our spiritual growth. Here are some common pitfalls that may be holding you back.
1. Pursuing God is not a priority.
Let’s be honest: Sometimes we would rather spend our time on other things. These might be good things like:
- spending time with our children
- making meals
- cleaning our houses
- after-school activities
- spending time with friends
- reading a good book
- or any other beneficial activity.
But if a week passes and we don’t spend any of our 168 hours with God, we should ask ourselves why He is less of a priority than the other things we chose to do with our days.
We shouldn’t be surprised that we’re tempted to de-prioritize God in our lives. In the pages of Scripture, we see God’s people repeatedly falling into this same sin. No wonder Moses warned the Israelites, “take care lest you forget the LORD” (Deut. 6:12). We would do well to heed his words.
2. We already spent our energy on other things.
For many of us spiritual disciplines are a priority, but by the time we get to them, we are too tired to make any progress.
If you’re consistently neglecting your spiritual disciplines because of mental fatigue, you may want to consider that your energy is limited. God is the only One who never grows weary (Isa. 40:28), but we need sleep every day.
Productivity experts tell us to do hard things early in the day precisely because energy is limited.
Reshuffling your morning schedule may be necessary if you want to prioritize communion with God. For example, you might read the newspaper later in the day or check your email at lunch instead of breakfast. If you have young children, perhaps your husband could feed the kids breakfast so you can have time to read your Bible and pray. Or you could strap your little ones in a stroller and listen to the Bible on your mobile device while you walk.
Each woman’s circumstances are unique, so don’t be afraid to brainstorm with a friend concerning your situation. But if it’s possible to commune with God in the morning, you are more likely to have success.
3. There is a spiritual battle going on.
They say “it’s only effort until it’s habit,” and this is true for many things in life. But we shouldn’t be unaware that there is a spiritual dynamic going on as we seek to grow in holiness.
Anglican pastor J.C. Ryle wrote, “Tomorrow is the devil's day, but today is God's. Satan does not care how spiritual your intentions are, or how holy your resolutions, if only they are determined to be done tomorrow.”
Don’t fall victim to Satan’s schemes. It’s better to make a little progress right now than to dream of making great progress later.
4. Sin is standing between you and God.
You may be avoiding communion with God because you love sin more. But there is no pretending with God. Hebrews 4:13 says, “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” This is a horrifying reality if you’re choosing sin over God. So yes, avoidance is easier.
Owning our sin before God is both painful and cathartic. Our blackened hearts come under a microscope, and our sin is exposed. But with God we also find forgiveness and compassion. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Each one of us must decide whether we love God more than our sin, because God will not share us. He commands us to love Him with all our heart (Luke 10:27).
But the good news for those who struggle with ongoing sin is this: God transforms sinners. He not only grants you grace for salvation, but He also gives grace for sanctification.
So if you’re struggling with secret sin today, don’t be paralyzed by sin, fear, and condemnation. Confess your sin, and find forgiveness at God’s throne.
5. You are in a season of exhaustion.
Sometimes we go through particularly dark and difficult seasons. Even after a full night’s sleep, we don’t feel refreshed. We may have our Bible in front of us and time to commune with God, but our mind cannot focus. We cannot pray. We cannot feel.
If you’re in a season of exhaustion, it may not be the time for an in-depth Bible study, but you can still commune with God. The Psalms can be particularly helpful in these times. They give words to our feelings and transform our perspective. Even the most discouraged woman can pray Psalm 61:1–2:
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Once we understand the root cause of our resistance, we are no longer blindfolded in our fight with the enemy. The first step toward making progress is diagnosing what holds us back. God delights to have His children know Him, and if you ask, you can be sure you will “find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
What stunts your spiritual growth? Can you think of a person who could support and pray for you as you make new spiritual habits?
By Christel Humfrey