Seven Simple Ways to Recharge Your Spiritual Life
by MANDY SAELER
One fine day at work, I found myself engaged in an interesting, opinionated, and quite honestly — humorous — conversation. There were raised eyebrows and expressive gestures from some, and there was quiet listening from others, while yet others got a good laugh out of the whole thing. (I think I was probably a mixture of all three!)
For the amount of opinionated contributions and energy buzzing in the room, you would have thought our conversation centered on a professional sports game, or the best place in town to get pizza, or maybe even politics. But no, it wasn’t about anything of the sort … it was a conversation about … parking spots.
We’ve heard it said before, and we will certainly hear it again — people are creatures of habit. So even when it comes to simple “creature comforts” in our day, like our morning routine or the music we play in the car, we have our preferences. And when our habits are inhibited, it can throw us off. For instance, not having access to our usual parking spot can start our day on a sour note and make things feel off. (Or so I’m told!)
Though I couldn’t relate to having a decided fondness for a particular parking spot, it wasn’t very hard for me to think of other preferences I hold. And I’m sure you can relate, too.
Embracing the Mission to Keep it Fresh
Following that energetic and enlightening parking-spot conversation, I embarked on a mission to not be so driven by my trivial habits. Of course, there are intentional habits that bring strength and structure to our lives — and these are good things! However, there are some preferential practices that we can begin to cling to for comfort or even control … and these were the ones I wanted to challenge.
To be honest, I was inspired by the thought of embracing small change-ups in my life! And as I began looking for opportunities, I discovered that occasions to “keep it fresh” were presented all throughout my day … like pulling into a different trailhead rather than my default, driving a different route to work to get my mind moving in a fresh direction, or even just trying a new menu item!
Naturally, I also began thinking about the tendencies in my spiritual life. Perhaps I could strengthen areas of my spiritual life and foster spiritual growth if I embraced opportunities to “keep it fresh!” And this is what I’m really excited to share with you!
In the pages that follow are a handful of practical ways I’ve sought to “keep it fresh” in my spiritual life in seasons past and in this season at present. So, from my heart to yours, I hope that you, too, will find some helpful inspiration that will strengthen your walk and fuel your spiritual growth.
Keep It Fresh Tip No. 1: Bible Translations
For many years, I’ve primarily read from the New King James Version translation of the Bible. (I truly love this translation and it will probably always be my default.) However, having been immersed in a single translation for so long, one way I’ve found to bring fresh perspective to my Bible reading is to alter the translation I use.
I recently purchased an English Standard Version Bible and appreciate the simplicity and dignity that this translation conveys. Additionally, this particular ESV Bible has a wider, single column of Scripture on each page with airy margins for taking notes. Being a visual learner, I’ve found this style of typesetting to be inviting and easier for my eyes to navigate.
Consider choosing a new translation of the Bible to add fresh texture to your quiet time. Rather than glossing over words that have become familiar to you over the years, you might gain fresh insight as you intentionally read each word afresh.
Helpful note: Word-for-word translations such as KJV, NKJV, ESV, and NASB are generally understood to preserve the accuracy of the original text of Scripture.
Keep It fresh Tip No. 2: Read Jesus’ Biography
If you wanted to learn more about someone from history, what would you do? You might do an internet search, hit the library, watch a documentary, or listen to a podcast. And then, if you really wanted to know more, you’d probably pick up a credible biography where you could learn more about who the person really was, how they really thought, and how they really lived their life.
I recently read a book that recommended reading Jesus’ “biography.” The concept was to read the Gospels in Scripture as if they were Jesus’ biography, observing these accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry like we would in a traditional biographical work. (For example, noting His characteristic responses to people, the way He spent His time, how He carried Himself, how He used His words, etc.)
To be honest, I wouldn’t have thought of describing the essence of the Gospels as “Jesus’ biography.” However, doing so led me to ponder Him from a different angle of observation — and it was enlightening!
Reading “Jesus’ biography” was a simple shift in my frame of mind as I read, and I would recommend giving this frame of mind a try — accompanied by a simple prayer for your heart to see Jesus as He truly was and is.
Keep It Fresh Tip No. 3: Choose Pure Input
As humans, we are impressionable. What we watch and look at, what we engage with and listen to, what we meditate on and admire, and even what we laugh at … all say a lot about what we truly value — and the state of our hearts. What we allow into our heart through the gateway of our eyes, ears, and intellect will shape us. In simplest terms, our input influences us. (Read Proverbs 4 for more on this.)
One of my favorite ways to intentionally choose pure input is through reading (or listening to) worthwhile books. In this issue, our Set Apart team has created a special collection containing 33 titles that personally impacted our lives to such a degree that we say, “You’ve got to read this book!” We invite you to visit this long list of praiseworthy titles in our print magazine that you can purchase here.
Enrich your heart, mind, imagination, and most of all — your spiritual life — with things that are pure and lovely and life-giving! And always remember, what pours into our lives will inevitably, eventually impact those around us. May a waterfall of living water flow from our hearts, misting those around us with refreshment, hope, joy, peace, and life … the very essence of Jesus.
Keep It Fresh Tip No. 4: Herald the Truth
Over the years, time and again, I’ve come back to the simple practice of making Scripture cards as a way of sowing God’s truth throughout my day and into the corners of my life. I use plain index cards and pen Scriptures onto them. They’re not fancy — but they’re mighty! I might write out Scriptures that are on my heart as of late, or sometimes I select a series of Scriptures that pertain to a specific topic. Having these cards at hand, tucked into books or sitting in strategic places provides a simple way of sowing God’s Word into my heart continually.
I love that Scripture itself reminds us of the practical ways we can sow the truth of God’s Word into our days: “…talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and … write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:7–9).
May God give us wisdom and creativity to faithfully herald the truth of God in our hearts, in our homes, and in our homeland!
Keep It Fresh Tip No. 5: Prayer Post-Its and Power Walks
The phrase, “I’ll pray for you” has been touted as perhaps the most common lie spoken in Christian circles. Ouch! Rather than making an empty promise, what if we prayed for that person on the spot? Or if the situation doesn’t allow, what if we made a timed reminder to pray for that person.
As life has become busier, my memory is not quite as keen as it once was, so I personally prefer written reminders. Jotting a note on a post-it and strategically placing it somewhere I will see it often (on my desk or in the kitchen) is helpful and keeps that person and their prayer request posted in my life … and in my prayers.
I also find that when I get moving — it is a good time to get praying! When I lace up my tennis shoes and hit the paths or pavement for a good power walk, I’m finally free of the distractions of my usual surroundings! It’s an ideal time to prayerfully process, pour my heart out to the Lord, and remember the prayer needs of the special people in my life. (And sometimes I bring those prayer request post-its along with me!)
When we say we will pray for others, may we follow through with honest action. Through prayer, we have the opportunity to spiritually advocate for the eternal good of someone else … may we not take that lightly!
Keep It Fresh Tip No. 6: Reflect and Remember
How prone we are to forget, even the things we think we will remember! This is one reason I love to journal God’s workings in my life and His whisperings to my heart. Oftentimes, I find courage for facing the future as I reflect on God’s faithfulness in the past — in my own life (and in my own journals), in the lives of others, and in the Word of God.
Consider taking some special time to refresh your heart in His faithfulness. Reflect on His leading in your life and specific ways He has cared for and shown Himself faithful to you. A gratitude journal can also be a great way to do this as you purpose to remember the ways He has blessed you and provided for you … even in the space of a single day!
His faithfulness is a balm for our hearts, a firm place for our faltering feet to stand, and a breath of hope in our sails. May we reflect, remember, and find the refreshment our hearts long for in Him.
Keep It Fresh Tip No. 7: Lift Jesus Higher
I once heard someone say that you can know what is competing for God’s place in your heart when you evaluate the first thing that comes to your mind in the morning upon waking and the last thing that lingers on your mind before falling asleep.
Although we may not bow down to statues, in simplest terms, an idol is anything we place in our hearts above God. This means that an idol could be a person or a passion, a dream or desire, or even bitterness and unforgiveness.
A great way of keeping our spiritual lives fresh is to identify and remove anything that is taking a higher place in our hearts than God Himself. Specifically ask God to reveal anything you’ve allowed to crowd Him out from having first place. Repent by confessing these things to God and seeking His forgiveness. Ask for the power of His Spirit to aid you as you turn from your idols and seek to place Him first. Repentance always brings soul refreshment.
Pressing In And Pressing On
Certainly, there are a thousand and one ways to press in and keep our spiritual fervor aglow! As we embrace the year ahead, may we face these unfolding days with anticipation for the new ways we can seek to know Him better, love Him more, truly enjoy Him, and be shaped into His likeness. May we remember the beauty found in variety and relish the creative ways God will lead us to pursue more of His heart.
And above all as we journey onward, may our hearts truly know and delight in the reality expressed in the old hymn: “Thou and Thou only first in my heart; High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art!”