Today is January 2nd. 363 days remain. As we look at the year ahead, many of us will consider new goals. For some, fitness is a top concern. For others, a new job or degree is in the works. But what about our spiritual goals?
If God is to be our top priority, what goals can we consider that best prioritize our relationship with him?
Deuteronomy 6:5 notes the Lord’s top desire: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Heart, soul, and mind encompass all the areas of our lives. Love is his greatest desire for us.
How can we grow in our love for God this year? Four areas are noted in Scripture regarding spiritual goals.
1. Grow in God’s Word
Psalm 19:7 notes, “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.” If we want our souls to be refreshed, we must include God’s Word.
Many people start the year determined to read through the Bible. This noble goal requires at least three chapters a day, or 21 chapters a week. In general, the process takes the average reader 20-30 minutes every day.
For others, a few minutes with a daily devotional is a more realistic goal.
Since 2010, I have personally pursued the calling to write out the text of the Bible. I am currently on my second time through. My 2018 goal is to finish my second time. Only 520 pages of my printed Bible to go!
2. Grow with God’s People
Monks and nuns have often given the idea that spiritual growth should be a solitary process. However, most of the time, spiritual growth is best in community.
The Scriptures are less concerned with formal church membership than today’s churches, but the priority on relationships is clear. The first church focused on four things: 1) the apostles’ teaching, 2) fellowship, 3) the breaking of bread, and 4) prayers (Acts 2:42).
Fellowship, the Greek koinonia, is a gathering together with others for mutual encouragement and growth. A local church, small group, or even regular time with one or two other Christian friends may be sufficient. The goal is to grow better together.
3. Grow in PrayerTo grow in God, we must talk with God. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 notes the will of the Lord: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Prayer is not something we only perform before a meal or bedtime. Prayer is an ongoing conversation with our heavenly Father. He wants us to communicate with him throughout the day and night. A look at the spiritual leaders of the past usually notes their prayers represented an ongoing relationship with God.
4. Grow in Endurance
We often miss this one. We easily recognize the need to study the Bible, pray, and spend time with other believers, but endurance sounds neither fun nor desirable.
It took me nearly 40 years to realize endurance is an essential part to my spiritual growth. At the age of 38, I began running to regain fitness. My trail runs grew longer and longer until I completed a few ultra-runs of 100 miles or more. People ask how I could run for so long. The answer? I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, no matter the level of pain.
The same is true spiritually. No matter the struggle, we are called to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The finish line may seem beyond our ability, but our Father knows the path and our pain. He often uses our pain to mold us, prepare us, and teach us to grow in ways others methods are unable to provide in reaching spiritual goals.
Spiritual goals are not easy, but it is necessary for experiencing the ongoing presence of God in our lives. Let us focus on his priorities as we seek to honor our Lord today.
Dillon Burroughs is the author and coauthor of numerous books and blogs about his experiences of handwriting the Bible at the Holy Writ Project on Patheos.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook or Twitter.