I seem to have troubling finding things… in the fridge.
No matter how hard I look, things like bread, mayonnaise or pickles always seem to elude me.
But as soon as I call my wife for help, they magically appear.
Maybe it’s a guy thing!
Either way, life is full of searching, and for things much more significant than pickles.
So here’s a key question: Are you looking in the right places, and in the right ways?
Maybe you’re at a crossroads in a relationship or at work. Maybe something has come up in parenting or with your health and you’re seeking God’s wisdom.
If so, Jesus promises something pretty bold:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).
In short: When you seek God you see God.
"When you seek God you see God"
— Matthew Ruttan (@MatthewRuttan) April 8, 2016
Here’s how James says it: “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8)
And then this: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)
Our thirst for God gives way to searching, which gives way to finding.
One my concerns is that when we seek God we usually just show up at church, say a short prayer and cross our fingers.
But the Christian tradition has incredible wisdom about how to seek God. They’re called “spiritual disciplines.”
A “spiritual discipline” is something you do
- to experience greater freedom
- to receive God’s goodness
- to examine and transform your inner self
- and to develop greater communion with God
Spiritual disciplines are not just for “spiritual giants,” but for everyday, normal people like us. And they are best practiced in the midst of day-to-day life.
What you do shapes you. It’s true for bad habits, and it’s true for good ones.
When it comes to spiritual disciplines, the “primary requirement,” writes Richard J Foster, “is a longing after God.”
To help, in this blog I’ve summarized 10 spiritual disciplines.
Prayer is honestly talking with God. William Carey said that prayer “lies at the root of all personal godliness.” It often involves praising God, confessing sins, offering thanks, and asking for help.
When people think of meditation they think of Eastern religions. But in the Bible there are many cases of people meditating.
Whereas in Eastern religions the purpose is to empty the mind, in Christianity it is to do that, but also to fill it again with Jesus. Meditation is taking time in quiet and solitude to unclutter the mind and focus on God. Sometimes it is helpful to memorize and recite one or two key Bible verses.
The Bible is the primary place where we learn God’s will. Therefore we should read it frequently. If you’re new to this, leave a comment on this blog and I’ll send you a straightforward reading plan.
We study to renew and grow our minds. In so doing we learn about God’s will and how to shape our thinking to his.
Study can take us deeper with biblical books, or it can involve devotional reading that helps us better understand or explore life in Christ. If you want recommendations let me know.
Consultation is talking with and seeking counsel from other Christians. It is formally or informally consulting others about our life and journey for the benefit of fellowship and the wisdom of others.
Quite often, the Holy Spirit can speak to us through our conversations with trusted believers.
Fasting can be powerful. (If you’ve never fasted before, do some research first.)
The focus isn’t physical; it’s spiritual. It reminds us of our dependence on God and doesn’t need to be excessive. Even small fasts can, with practice, focus us on God, humble us, and restore balance to our cravings.
Our world is increasingly complex, confused and chaotic. Cultivating intentional simplicity with our time, attention and money results in less anxiety and more peace.
Gear your life more towards practicality and less toward status and hoarding. De-accumulate. Eliminate distraction. Speak plainly.
Worshiping God together with other Christians is foundational to a life following Jesus. Perhaps because our culture is so highly individualized many today see it as optional. But it is not. Not only are we commanded to worship God, but it mysteriously restores us and speaks to us.
When you give God first place everything else falls into place.
Acts of kindness and service toward others gives us a specific forum to love one another as Jesus loved us. It restores priorities, perspective and reveals God’s presence in the midst of our dealings with his children.
This is about joy. It is about engaging in practices which honour God and which give us pleasure—like delighting in nature or laughing. It is being obedient to God, being aware of everything he has done for you, and choosing to see the good in the world. As it says in the Westminster Catechism, the main goal of life is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
For those of you who want to go deeper, the classic book about the spiritual disciplines is Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Ricard J. Foster.
Are you thirsty for the living God? Or are you content watching someone else take a swig from the other side of the window?
When you seek God you see God.
Sometimes you just have to look in the right places and in the right ways.
I think taking up a spiritual discipline is your next best step to a more abundant, refreshing, and Lord-led life.