It’s the New Year!! Yay! You made it, and if you are anything like most (me) people, you want this year to be different in various ways. This post is for the new year new me gang, we see you, no shame in self-improvement. It’s better to actually try then fall off than fail because you didn’t try. Last year, I decided to make a conscious choice to make myself better, I set goals and shared them with those close to me for accountability and regular check in’s. It helped me stay on track and actually grow in the areas I set out to, this year I am even more determined to plan and not let life just happen to me.
Like most Christians, you probably want to grow in your spiritual life and faith, today I want to share a few things that actually worked for me in 2018. I hope this list of ‘Spiritual Life Hacks’ will actually be a blessing to you. If not, let me know what works for you by leaving a comment.
Good habits and self-discipline take time to cultivate, most times we are not willing to put in… Click To Tweet
- For Bible Reading.
If your goal this year is to read more of the bible or read the entire Bible this year, that’s a great goal! Don’t worry if you have many failed attempts (join the club), there is always a chance to start over. The following things helped me read the bible more than I ever have last year:
- The Bible App (by YouVersion). This year, I found myself using more on my phone than my actual bible. The Bible app has made it so accessible, interactive and social to encourage consistency. It has countless reading plans that feature various teachers and authors, the plans also have different lengths to suit your need. You can even set reminders for a specific time for your reading or even read a plan with your friends. I usually have a 1-year plan, monthly plan and a shorter devotional style plan as well. If you want to read through the bible I highly recommend the M’cheyne Reading Plan, you can check it out here.
- The Bible Project. The bible project is an amazing tool that I think everyone should check out. They have a wide range of resources, from animated videos for every book of the Bible, all the way to podcasts. I loved listening to their podcast on how to interpret different writing styles of the Bible, it completely changed how I read the bible. One of my favourite episodes was on the Bible as Jewish literature, it was such an eye-opener. I love the Bible project, they have plans on the Bible app as well, I highly recommend their resources. https://thebibleproject.com/
- Bible Version/Translation. The third hack I have with regards to Bible reading will sound so simple, but it is the one thing that transformed my bible reading two years ago. I think it was a tweet (or book) from Jen Wilkin where she said: “ Find a bible in a language and version that you understand and master that version” (paraphrase). Since then I committed to only reading the bible in one translation, I made it a point to master that version of the bible instead of dabbling in so many translations. My preferred translation is the ESV, I often refer to the NIV, NLT, NKJV and Chichewa Cha Lero versions. Check this out for more on how to understand bible versions.
- The last hack on bible reading having a strategy for your Bible reading. Until last year, I never used devotionals and bible plans, I simply would choose a book of the bible and study it. It worked for me, but this year an opportunity came to do a study that was more challenging and I really enjoyed it. I also used some great devotionals that worked for me, there is plenty on the Bible app. The important thing is to find a plan that works for you, if you’ve just started are reading the bible, you can start slowly and if you’ve been a Christian for a while challenge yourself with something more intense can be a great push for your growth.
- For Prayer.
Prayer is a battlefield, it’s as simple as that. It’s a battlefield within you as well as against Spiritual forces around you, both of these things make it extremely difficult for most of us to have a consistent prayer life. This is an area of life I’m still figuring out, but one thing I know is it takes a whole lot of discipline, that is why I need to do everything in my power to make sure I cultivate a life of discipline. These are the life hacks that have helped me and continue to help me grow in my prayer life, remember small growth is better than no growth;
- Reminders App, this is probably the simplest life hack on this list. I use my reminder app to literally remind me to pray, I have my prayer times scheduled as a reminder, on my calendar with a 30-minute reminder before the time comes.
- Accountability also really helps me be disciplined, me and my friends used to have a prayer group where we would wake each other up at 5 AM to prayer (cough cough members of the 5 AM Club). But it worked really well for a particular season of our lives, I owe so much to it, I’d love to recover that level of discipline once again though.
- Prayer strategy to keep your mind engaged. One of the things I find hard is keeping my mind engaged and focused during prayer, it is so easy to lose track and start thinking about other things or even forget who to pray for. Two things that helped me; the first one is an app called PrayerMate, it basically allows me to create lists and folders of people and list prayer items under their name. The second thing is a tip I heard John Piper recommend, basically praying in some sort of circle, starting with you, then the people closest to you, the further out of the circle you go the further you get from just your life and inner circle.
The people you surround yourself with can be a make or break for your goals, choose your tribe… Click To Tweet
- For enhancing your growth.
- Books are such a wonderful resource, I love reading. Last year, one of my goals was to start reading again, I committed to reading 35 books, I managed to finish 30 books and the rest I carried over into 2019. I once read somewhere that ‘books are a way of discipleship/mentorship’. I read books in various categories, books that are fun to read as well as some that are challenging. Read tomorrow’s post for my criteria for reading books as well as my reading list for this year. Goodreads helps me see how I am doing, see what others in my circle are reading and check my consistency. Audiobooks are also an option for those who do not like to sit and read.
- I also listen to a lot of podcasts; I love podcasts because they are engaging which works great if you have an attention span as short as mine. They also work great for doing other things such as driving, writing and work, I also love that you can also hear the world from different perspectives. It’s like having a conversation with people you might never even meet. Shameless plug, check out our podcast if you haven’t already, as well as favourite podcasts list coming out later in the week.
- Sermons. Sermons are great although I wouldn’t recommend them as a replacement for your pastor. They are great for that extra dose of the word during the week or just plain old learning and growing. I don’t listen to sermons as much anymore, but when I do these are my go-to preachers: HB Charles Jr, Matt Chandler, John Piper, Trip Lee, Jackie Hill Perry.
The main ingredient for achieving your goals (in any area of life) in a community of people who encourage you, hold you accountable, rebuke, motivate you to become a better, more sanctified version of yourself. The people you surround yourself with can be a make or break for your goals, choose your tribe wisely this year. Church community is also a major life hack, spiritual growth is extremely difficult without a community of Jesus loving, Spirit-filled people to help you be more like Jesus by being their imperfect selves. Seek to plug yourself in a healthy community and serve and love there, church isn’t perfect but its not meant to be until Jesus makes it so (this is also not to minimize the real hurt that people experience in church, church hurt is real and takes time to heal, more grace to you.)
One of the major setbacks that will keep you from growing spiritually is yourself, whether, through self-sabotage, not being motivated to for various reasons or just not wanting it bad enough, you can hinder your own spiritual growth. Self-discipline is what often holds us back from growing spiritually, we can start off with so much zeal at the beginning of the year but what happens when that zeal goes away? Good habits and self-discipline take time to cultivate, most times we are not willing to put in work, it’s like desiring a six pack but not wanting to go to the gym for it. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can choose discipline, we can make choices that will grow our walk with Jesus. The Question is, how bad do you want to grow Spiritually?
“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”