Summary: Brass tacks, let's talk practical application. What are the most common practices that underpin a legitimate growing Christian faith? I consider in my own life, how I can be a real, genuine follower of Jesus.
Brass tacks, let's talk practical application. What are the most common practices that underpin a legitimate growing Christian faith? I consider in my own life, how I can be a real, genuine follower of Jesus. Not just a faker, or a part time believer. What does it look like where the rubber meets the road? How can I grow as a Christian?
As the word of God says, "Let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God" (Hebrews 6:1 NIV).
One of the most important parts of the Christian life is communication. We are living in a relationship with God almighty. Relationships require communication. I try to pray at least three times a day.
The greats of Christianity prayed sometimes 1-3 hours a day, often in the morning. The scriptures say Jesus often went away to lonely places to pray (Luke 5:16). I tend to pray about 5 min in the morning, not more than 1-2 minutes at lunch, if that, and at night is my major prayer time, when I tend to pray about 10-30 minutes. Many would probably say that isn't enough. I know many Christian greats prayed for hours each day, but I always think of the scripture which says "The gentiles think by their many words that they'll be heard" Matthew 6:7. Who said that? Some guy named Jesus. Interesting. And he followed that statement saying, "instead pray like this" and he indicated the Lord's prayer. I pray the Lord's prayer every night, and I tend to follow that up with intercession in the form of the five finger prayer. I also take time to express my emotions and deepest thoughts to God. I think our prayer life should be growing in vibrance and length if we are growing Christians.
Here's one I never knew: Buy a good Bible! And put it in a leather case. Carry it with you to church, and carry it with you throughout the week. Ding ding, that's correct! I never knew that really. I kept giving away my Bibles though, so I'd always find myself without one. If you don't have a Bible, get one, obviously. But consider it your constant companion, put it in a case, highlight, underline, jot down notes in the margins. The Bible isn't a novel to be read once and discarded, it's to be studied, examined closely, and considered.
Though with smart phone Bible apps and websites today, many use those more so than paper print Bibles. I certainly use Biblegateway.com and Biblehub.com among many others, but I also use a good paper print Bible. I like the new living translation, and the NIV is also excellent. For straight up accuracy, I recommend an ESV or NASB, but for modern language, evangelism, and such, I recommend the NLT or the MSG.
I have a really, really hard time picking up a book to read. It's insanely difficult for me. If you have that same problem, I recommend listening to audio Bibles. They are available free on Biblegateway.com and other sites. Or just buy it from Christian Audio or Christian Book dot com. And listen. But I still have to read that paper copy, I really do. I had such a hard time with that. So I asked God, Please help me with this reading thing, I'm not good at it. And he did. He provided to me (through a gift) a small hand held Bible that I found I could hold up and read in bed quite comfortably. And God established the pattern in my life, where I do now lay down every single night, and I read 1-2 chapters from the New Testament. It isn't that hard when we ask God for help. It really isn't.
Study Bibles are great. Two I recommend are the Reformation Study Bible and the NIV study Bible. The Matthew Henry commentary is also quite awesome.
Thirdly, have a good daily devotional. Read it in the morning before you go to work. Some say this is impossible. I understand, it seemed impossible to me. Once again, we ask God for help and suddenly the pattern is established and we enjoy it. Let me tell you, if your married, one of the most beautiful things to do is read a morning devotional with your wife or husband and discuss it. Truly a beautiful practice.
Here are some daily devotionals I recommend:
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
Take Time to Be Holy by Samuel Logan Brengle
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
Morning and Evening with Charles Spurgeon
Attend local church services four times a month (every Sunday). What a shocker right? It's amazing how many people will only attend services once a month, or twice a month. It seems to be the new normal. I know for me personally, I need to be fed four times a month through full worship services.