4 Powerful Steps to Strengthen Your Faith and Connect with God’s Will

How to prioritize the development and operation of your spirit

4 Powerful Steps

Watchman Nee said, “A Christian should know more about the operation of his spirit than about the activity of his mind.” Nee’s statement is a powerful reminder that our spiritual nature should be at the forefront of our thoughts and actions. As Christians, we are called to walk by faith and not by sight, relying on the Holy Spirit to guide us in all that we do (2 Corinthians 5:7).

In order to achieve this goal, it takes action on your part to pay attention to your spirit and prioritize your spiritual development over the activities of your mind. In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul speaks to this very point when he writes, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5 ESV).

Here, Paul points directly to the importance of aligning your thoughts and actions with the promptings of the Holy Spirit, instead of taking the easy, effortless path of allowing your mind to be influenced and led around by the things of the world.

Similarly, in Galatians 5:16, Paul encourages every Christ follower to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (NIV). Again, we see that the key to living a life that pleases Christ is to choose daily to be led by the Spirit, rather than by our own human desires and inclinations.

That does not mean you should neglect your mind entirely. God gifted you with your intellect and capacity for reason, and when you use it in service of the Spirit, it can be a powerful tool for understanding and applying God’s Word to your life.

Again, we are cautioned to always be careful not to rely solely on our own understanding – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 NIV).

So, how can you go about doing this?

Here are four key points to help you prioritize the development and operation of your spirit:

      1. Regularly spend time in prayer and meditation.

Prayer and meditation are powerful ways to connect with God and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts. Making time for these practices on a regular basis can help us to stay focused on our spiritual development and discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus often withdrew to solitary places to pray (Luke 5:16). Throughout the Gospels, we see him taking a time out, stepping away from His followers and into quiet places to pray (Luke 5:16), spending entire nights in prayer (Luke 6:12) and teaching His disciples to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). His prayer life was an essential part of His ministry, and He relied on it to seek guidance and strength from God.

Some practical ideas to help you prioritize your time with God in prayer:

  • Schedule a specific time each day for prayer and meditation.
  • Wake up a little earlier to pray before starting your day.
  • Take a few minutes to pray before a meal (not just over your food).
  • Spending quiet time in prayer before bed.
  • Utilize content like blogs available on the MyFLR app, devotional books, prayer apps or guided meditations to help you focus your thoughts and connect with God.

In your quiet time, you want to cultivate awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life.

Contemplative Prayer

Contemplative prayer involves silent and focused reflection, aimed at fostering a deeper connection with God. The emphasis is on being rather than doing. It encourages the pray-er to let go of their thoughts, worries and distractions, and instead pursue an inner stillness and openness that brings a direct and intimate experience with God.

Unlike other forms of prayer that involve words or requests, contemplative prayer seeks to transcend language and concepts. It is often characterized by silence, solitude and an attitude of receptivity. Through sustained practice, you may develop a heightened sense of awareness and spiritual insight.

Contemplative prayer can take various forms. One approach is centering prayer, which involves sitting quietly and giving your complete attention to the presence of God. Rather than actively thinking or analyzing, pray-ers strive to let go of thoughts and simply rest in a state of quiet contemplation.

Contemplative prayer helps you intentionally focus your attention on God’s presence and allows your mind to become still, creating space for the Holy Spirit to work in your heart. Let the words of Habakkuk 2:20 remind you that the Lord is present in your midst and encourages you to be still and listen for His voice.

“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (NIV).

Prayer is also a place for regular self-examination. It can help you become more aware of the ways in which your thoughts, feelings and behaviors align with God’s will. By taking time to reflect on your actions and attitudes, you can identify areas in which you need to grow and seek God’s help in making changes.

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV). Let this verse encourage you to examine yourself to see if you are truly living in accordance with your faith and make adjustments as the Lord leads you.

Worship can also be a part of your quiet time. By exploring different forms of worship, you can connect with God in meaningful ways, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in you and transform you. “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music” (Psalm 98:4 NIV). Music and song can express your joy and praise to the Lord.

Spending time in nature can be a powerful way to connect with God and nurture your spirit. Whether it’s taking a walk in the woods, watching a sunset or sitting by the ocean, immersing yourself in the beauty of God’s creation can inspire your soul with His majesty and compel you to praise Him.

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship” (Psalm 19:1 NLT). God’s creation testifies to His glory and invites us to marvel at His handiwork.

Spiritual direction is a form of guidance and support that can help you to deepen your relationship with God and discern His will for your life. Working with a spiritual leader can help you to identify areas where you need to grow and develop practices that will help you prioritize your spiritual development.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13 NIV). The Holy Spirit is our ultimate guide and can help us discern the truth and God’s will for our lives. Seeking out spiritual direction can be a powerful way to connect with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

      2. Consistently study and apply God’s Word.

Reading and studying the Bible is an essential part of growing in our faith and understanding of God’s will. By applying what we learn in our daily lives, we can strengthen our spiritual muscles and deepen our relationship with God.

King David loved God’s Word and worked to apply it in his life. In Psalm 119, he writes, “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word” (Psalm 119:15-16 NIV). David’s commitment to studying and living out God’s Word is a key reason why he is remembered as a man after God’s own heart.

Some practical ways to help you make Bible study and God’s Word’s a priority:

  • Schedule your Bible reading on your calendar.
  • Maybe read a few verses or a chapter each day or follow a structured reading plan.
  • Feel free to use tools like study Bibles, commentaries or join Bible study groups to help you better understand what you’re reading.
  • Look for ways to apply what you learn and ask the Holy Spirit to help you to live out the truths you discover.

      3. Engage in Christian community.

Being part of a Christian community, such as a church or small group, can provide valuable support and encouragement as we seek to prioritize our spiritual development. Through fellowship with other believers, we can grow together in our faith and hold each other accountable.

The early Christian church community prioritized spiritual development and fellowship. In Acts 2:42-47, we see that the believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (NIV). They cared for one another’s needs, shared their possessions and worshiped together. This community of believers provided essential support and encouragement to one another, helping each other to grow in their faith and share the love of Christ with others, bringing new people to the faith.

Here are a few ideas to engage in the Christian community:

  • Be open and accept opportunities to connect with other believers.
  • Joining a church (if you’re not already connected to one).
  • Participate in a small group.
  • Volunteer to help in a particular area or at a specific ministry.
  • Genuinely make an effort to build relationships with other Christians in your workplace, neighborhood or social circles.
  • Look for ways to encourage and support others in their spiritual journeys, praying for one another and sharing your struggles and triumphs.

       4. Seek to serve others.

Jesus taught that we should love our neighbors as ourselves, and serving others is an important way to put that love into action. By seeking out opportunities to serve those in need, we can demonstrate the love of Christ and grow in our own spiritual maturity.

Mary of Bethany demonstrated a heart of service. In Luke 10:38-42, she sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to His teaching, while her sister Martha is busy with household tasks. Later, in John 12:1-8, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume, an act of devotion and service that Jesus praises her for. Through her willingness to serve and sacrifice, Mary showed her deep love and reverence for Jesus, and her example challenges us to consider how we can serve others in our own lives.

And finally, here’s a list of ways you can serve others:

  • Pay attention to the needs of those around you and look for ways to meet them.
  • Volunteer at a local charity.
  • Visit someone who is sick.
  • Help a neighbor with a task.
  • Look for ways to be generous with your time, talents and resources.
  • Ask God to show you how you can bless others and show the love of Christ.

As you serve, we can look for ways to build relationships with those we serve, sharing the gospel and offering hope and encouragement.

As you take steps each day to prioritize the development and operation of your spirit, you will naturally begin to walk in the ways of the Spirit, rather than the ways of the flesh and live more each day in a way that pleases Christ.

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