We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you because we have heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all the saints (Colossians 1:3-4)
It’s January. A brand new month of a brand new year. But mind, because it's almost February already! Made any New Year's Resolutions? I have always been a bit cynical about these. I yield that the neatness of starting something new at the beginning of a new year is compelling.
I propose for your consideration: Strengthening good "habits" that you started last year - or the year before that - is just as good as starting a new one. Let's look at a few spiritual habits that I am sure you are already working on, and that we are all called to strengthen.
This is a not-so-small one, but for many people, including myself, prayer is daunting and difficult. Prayer is a discipline! How do we speak to our Creator? What do we say? Is there something I shouldn't say? Really? Bring everything before Him? Easier said than done (pun intended).
Start by making time to pray. And I don’t mean a dedicated block of time in the morning or in the evening. Although you should try to do that as well. I mean, pick a few things you do more than once a day - or a few things you do only once a day - and pray then. Like checking in. Right after you make coffee. Right before a meeting. When you get back to your desk. When you get to work or leave work. Like checking your phone for a message from a loved one. Just talk to Him throughout, every now and then.
I used to leave sticky notes on my steering wheel, on my keyboard, and even inside my lunchbox sometimes, to help me to remember to pray.
If you really have some logistical prayer questions, make time to find the answers. Don't let day after day pass by in prayerlessness and guilt. Learn how to pray. The Bible actually has a lot to say on the topic. Ask someone the questions. Make the time. Find out.
Not what a usual one, but it is literally the foundational teaching of what it means to follow Christ. It is a discipline! Not a feeling. He taught about this on numerous occasions, summarised in John 3:11 "...We should love one another." This discipline is given many frames in Scripture. Read the stories and find the discipline of love in them.
Work on fostering healthy relationships. Learn to apologise. Seek help to forgive. Soften your tone. Be(come) slow to anger. Pray for open eyes and ears to identify the spiritual and emotional needs of others - and then meet it! If it's prayer, pray. If it's helping them out, do so. If it's keeping them accountable, start that conversation. Actively seek ways that you can bless, encourage and help your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This is called love in the Bible.
Bonus: The more we show Christ’s love to others, the more we become like Him.
Go to church
I always say that we do not live our Christian walk in a bubble. The Word of God says in Hebrews 10:25 “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
God doesn't suggest that we become part of a local body. He demands it. It is His best plan to help you draw closer to Him. The church was His idea for your benefit! It is not an optional auxiliary activity. It is essential to your personal spiritual growth. And He made it possible with His sacrifice on the cross.
The church is a body of believers empowered by The Spirit and burdened with the divine purpose to bring glory to God on earth TOGETHER. Make this a top priority for your week, and ultimately your year.
2023 will be fruitful - successful even - if these are the habits you are working on. Yes, these are just some of the spiritual disciplines or habits, but they are foundational to the others. How can you step up your talking-to-God-loving-others-church-going game?