Let’s be real. It’s a struggle to grow in your walk with God. If it wasn’t, it would be easy. And if it was easy, everyone would do it.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14, ESVBut even though it’s not easy to enter the narrow gate that leads to life, it’s not impossible. God provides everything we need to learn and grow. We just need to press in.
Paul tells us in Galatians 5:17, For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want.
It can feel hard to find the time to grow in your walk with God
If you’re feeling a conflict between wanting to spend time with God and actually getting yourself to do it, you’re in good company. I’ve compiled a list of tips and ideas I’ve developed for myself (yep, even those who work in full-time ministry are feeling the conflict too).
Romans 12:2 tell us this: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Translation by Sara: Don’t be swayed by the opinions and thoughts of this world, but refresh your mind with God’s thoughts so you can know His perfect will.
Can I break it down even more? If we’re spending time in God’s Word, we’ll know what He wants us to do, and can drown out the ungodly opinions and thoughts of what the world thinks we should do.
So, how do we fight the flesh, walk through the narrow gate, and transform our minds?
6 Tips To Grow In Your Walk with God
1. Start Small
I often tell middle school and high school students that they don’t need to sit down every day and read 100 pages of the Bible. You don’t need to read for an hour. You don’t even need to start with a whole book or chapter. Start small. Read a few verses. Read for five minutes.
A friend of mine once followed a plan for reading through the entire Bible in 90 days. That is quite a feat. It takes time, dedication, and sacrifice. But you know what she told me at the end of the challenge? She didn’t remember most of what she read.
James 1:22 says this: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
When we’re reading the Bible because we think we should, but not taking the time to study it, meditate on it, and apply it to our lives, that’s not growth. It’s my opinion that it’s better to read a few verses a day and think about it, meditate on it, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal things to us about it than it is to read chapters and chapters a day because we think we should.
As you begin reading a few verses a day, I think you’ll find that the more you read, the more you want to read. The more you apply God’s Word to your life and hide it in your heart, you’ll start to see a transformation taking place in the way you think, speak, and interact with others. I promise. Give it a try.
2. Make It a Habit
Many people prefer to read God’s Word before their feet hit the floor in the morning, so they can start their day off on the right foot. I think that’s a great concept, but I’ve found a problem with that in my own life: my brain has trouble processing and retaining information before I’ve gotten some strong coffee into my system.
I prefer to spend time reading the Word once I’ve woken up a bit, and I am able to form clear sentences and think lucid thoughts.
Maybe you’d like to read the Bible at night when you’re cozy in your bed and getting ready for the next day. Or maybe you’d rather spend some time reading on your lunch break.
I don’t think it matters at what point during the day you read your Bible. I do find it helpful to read in the morning so I can meditate on it throughout the day, but if you find that difficult, pick a different time. And make a habit out of it. Reading at lunch is better than not reading at all.
3. Tweet to God
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says this: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Pray without ceasing. Do you want me to pray without stopping? Pray 24/7? “That’s impossible,” I used to think.
But then I heard it broken down like this: Just like we send out tweets in 140 characters or less, we can be talking to God throughout the day. You can constantly be rejoicing, giving thanks, and asking for God’s help as you go throughout your day. While spending an hour with your face on the carpet intensely praying and seeking God is wonderful and can be necessary, I don’t think this is the only kind of prayer that God asks of us.
God wants to be a part of your daily life. Just like a friend that you exchange brief texts and emails with during the day, God wants to hear from us. I believe He loves it when I thank Him for a beautiful sunset, utter a prayer for a friend who comes to mind, or even ask Him to clear traffic for me when I’m stuck trying to turn left onto a busy road. Talk to Him. Tell Him what you’re thinking and feeling. Ask for His help throughout the day. He wants to hear from you. This will greatly help you in your walk with God.
4. Use Technology
I used to resist the use of the Bible app. “I’m old school,” I would say. “I like to feel the pages beneath my fingers.”
While I think it’s important for every believer to be able to navigate their way through the Bible (I often urge my students to memorize the books of the Bible in order), I can’t deny the convenience of having the Bible on my iPhone.
Technology can be a great tool. Use it to your advantage. Today, we have more access to God’s Word at our fingertips than ever before.
Download the Bible app.
(YouVersion is a great one.) Make use of the daily reading plans they offer on pretty much every topic you can imagine, or on any book of the Bible. Use the highlighter tool, sign up to have the verse of the day sent to your phone every morning, and enjoy access to all different versions and translations. I find myself switching between NIV, The Message, ESV, and others. You never know how a slightly different wording of a verse will illuminate it for you.
Listen to the Bible. Reading the Bible is not our only choice. Listening to God’s Word is a great option. I had an hour and a half commute for three years, and I would maximize my time in the car by downloading a Bible podcast, burning it to a CD (if you have a newer car you can plug in your iPod or phone), and listening to about a chapter or two a day. Not only did I use my time wisely, but listening to the Word versus reading it can sometimes bring your attention to something you may have missed before.
The YouVersion Bible app also has a listening function on certain versions, so I’ll often listen to a chapter or two while I’m getting ready in the morning.
Listen to sermons.
While we know that the Holy Spirit is the one who guides us into all truth (John 16:13), we can also benefit from listening to others preach and teach the Word. And these days, sermons are more available to us than they have ever been. Most churches have sermon podcasts available on their website, and some have apps to make it even easier.
Try this: give up one episode of TV a week to watch or listen to the Word of God being preached. Need a suggestion? My pastor, Ray Sensenig, preaches and teaches a great message of faith at Grace Fellowship Church. I also like to listen to Pastor Craig Groeschel at LifeChurch.tv and Pastor Steven Furtick at Elevation Church. But many churches offer resources online–find a church that teaches the Bible and go there!
Follow the good stuff on social media. Want to fill up your Facebook feed with God’s perspective instead of political opinions, or what celebrity is getting a facelift? Unfollow anything that stirs up ungodly thoughts or feelings, and follow ministries and friends that post Scripture and godly articles.
5. Get your friends involved.
Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people goes a long way. Don’t get me wrong: we should definitely be reaching out and sharing Christ with those who need Him.
But think about this: who’s in your inner circle? Who are you constantly spending time with? Who are the first few people that you think to call or text when you want to chat, need to make a big decision, or have good news to share?
1 Corinthians 15:33 says this: Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals. If the people that we’re spending a majority of our time with aren’t also trying to grow in their walk with the Lord, their habits, speech, and outlook on life will be different. If we aren’t careful, they can pull us in.
On the flip side, friends who are also striving to grow in their walk with the Lord and serve Christ can be an asset to our spiritual growth. Their habits, speech, and outlook on life will most likely line up with ours, and we can use their help in keeping us accountable.
My friends, who are walking with the Lord appreciate it when I text them every so often and say, “Hey, how are you doing with your Bible reading?”
My sister and I once embarked on a challenge: I texted her every day for a month and asked her if she had read her Bible that day. Maybe you need to ask someone in your life to do that for you.
6. Ask God to help.
I mentioned earlier how important it is to pray without ceasing, and how God delights in hearing from us in any circumstance. So why not ask Him to help you get into His Word every day and renew your mind?
Wrapping it up.
Walking with God is an awesome, wonderful, exciting journey. It won’t be without its difficulties; Jesus promises us that in John 16:33. But we know that He will walk with us through the bad times as well as the good times. So press into Him. Spend time in His Word every day. Take verses that help you with your current struggles and hold onto them: memorize them, write them on index cards to post on your bathroom mirror, and journal about them. Fight your flesh, walk through the narrow gate, and renew your mind daily.
Sara Fore is the Director of Student Ministries and Ministry Operations Coordinator at Grace Fellowship Church in Shillington, PA. http://www.222church.com