How healthy are you? Most people would answer that question by talking about their physical health. We start talking about aches and pains and our weight. We talk about needing to exercise more and eat better and maybe go see the doctor.
But we don’t often think about our emotional health or our spiritual health or our relational health. When I think about being healthy I think about mind, body and soul. If those three are not healthy we are in trouble. When one is not healthy it can affect the others.
I believe the most important part of us is our spiritual side, our souls. That is our true self. Taking care of our souls should be a high priority.
Our spiritual health is critical. Too often we try to get well after we are sick spiritually instead of avoiding getting sick in the first place.
One soul renewal discipline is to set SOUL GOALS.
You need to have a plan for spiritual growth to avoid doing life in a dull spiritual trance. Not many people take the time to write out goals for their lives let alone goals for their souls. To me our soul goals should come before any other goals. Being a Christian is not an academic exercise, it is a relationship. In any relationship we must put the hard work in if we want it to be successful. A good marriage doesn’t just happen, great friendships take work and being intentional about getting to know each other. Isaiah 55:8 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”
We need to get to know God better, and setting soul goals can help you do just that. If you are not intentional about growing closer to God you will plateau and not experience all that He has for you.
Here are a few examples of soul goals:
- I want to practice Heaven by enjoying now – celebrate the little things in life by starting a grateful journal.
- I want to have a part in advancing God’s Kingdom – not hinder it. Where can I serve?
- I want to grow in grace in my relationships – a soft heart, compassion and love for people. What are two things I can do to improve my relationships?
- I want to laugh more – my life is in His hands. Find ways to have fun and enjoy life. Schedule fun.
- I want to remain open to God’s changes in my life – His way, not my way. This is surrendering to Him and trusting Him with every part of your life. What do I need to surrender to God?
- I want to live less like a victim and more like a victor – A broken bone will heal stronger than before. Am I using the trials of life to shape my ministry? God often used the most painful experiences in our life to shape us for ministry and use that pain to help others. How can I use my painful experiences to help others? Look for opportunities to do that.
- I want to excel in prayer. I need to plan a time of prayer and then have a prayer mindset throughout each day.
- I want to be a more giving person – time, money, talent. I need to start tithing and serving. When will I start?
Another spiritual renewal discipline is PRAYER.
To have healthy souls, we must pour out our souls in prayer, both secretly, and in public. Prayer connects us with God; it is a gift we are given because of Jesus. We are each priests, working for God and able to communicate directly with Him. Therefore we need to take advantage of this great gift.
Prayer should be a part of our everyday activities, throughout the day we should be in constant connection to God. Just as if He was right beside you each and every moment of each day. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2
Prayer is an opportunity to Praise God – to express your love for Him
Also to find your purpose in life – what He has for you.
It also is a way to ask for our needs to be met and for confession of sin.
Prayer is a time to intercede for other people and to ask for protection.
John Wesley was a man of prayer, the busier his life became the more time he spent in prayer. Today many of us are exactly the opposite. The busier we get the less we pray. No wonder our lives are filled with stress and anxiety. Prayer is vital to a healthy soul. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
A few closing thoughts on prayer:
We need a time and a place to pray. A regular time is essential. We still need to pray throughout the day, but we need a special time each day to really connect with God. Give Him your best time each day, whether that is in the morning, afternoon or evening. Prayer requires a certain level of preparation. The pace of our lives causes our minds to race at fast levels. We have noise all around us that distracts us from our communication with God. Our thoughts are sort of like a bunch of monkeys jumping around on a banana tree. So when you begin your prayer time you need to be at your best and let the monkeys settle down. Take a few deep breathes and allow your mind to slow down and focus on God.
We also need to keep our prayers simple. There is a gap between what I am supposed to pray for and what is really on my mind. Simple prayer means praying about what is on your heart, not what you think God wants to hear. In the movie Bruce Almighty, God asks Bruce to pray and he prays for God to feed the hungry and for world peace. Too often that is the extent of our prayers and it never comes from our hearts.
Tell God about how frustrated you are at work, or how your neighbor made you mad. Be real with God. Nothing kills prayer faster than when we pretend before God. Prayer like any relationship has to begin in honesty and grow.
Another thing that has helped me tremendously in my prayer life is to be fully present. I don’t know about you, but my mind wonders when I pray. I thought this would stop as I grew spiritually, but it did not. I used to feel guilty about this until I learned what it means to be fully present.
If your mind keeps returning to a particular topic or person, it is probably an indication that this is the topic or person of most concern to you, and you need stop and talk to God about it.
Sometimes my agenda for the day keeps coming to my mind, so I stop and pray for the things on my calendar, meetings, projects and people. Or maybe I keep thinking about a person or persons, so I stop and pray for that person and what is going on in their lives.
If you approach these thoughts as stepping stones rather than barriers to prayer you will be fully present with God. There are times that thoughts can be a distraction though and that may mean you need to keep a notebook close by to write down the thought or the thing you need to do, so you can get back with God and really connect with Him.
So set some soul goals and make sure prayer is a regular part of your life.