Maybe you’re like me. There are moments where I don’t want to do anything spiritually beneficial to my soul. During this pandemic, I felt more inclined towards mindless acts of laziness and I struggled to enjoy anything of spiritual benefit. Christians experience this from time to time, and I know that I have experienced this when things are increasingly difficult. I was convicted by this Thomas Watson quote as he reminded me to preserve my love for God by any means:
“O preserve your love to him…. When you find love abate and cool, use all means to quicken it. When the fire is going out, you throw on fuel; so when the flame of love is going out, make use of the ordinances as sacred fuel to keep the fire of your love burning” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 229, emphasis mine).
Aside from the God-ordained spiritual disciplines (like evangelism, prayer, Bible reading, etc.), there are other tools that help get the ball rolling in a spiritual drought. When depression strikes and apathy grips us, it’s the little things that may be the most effective in getting the sanctification snowball moving. Here are simple practices in the Christian life that help “get me going” if I am in a spiritual rut:
1. Listen to Worship Music
Music is a delight to a downcast heart. Put a good playlist together of meaningful worship songs. Songs with good theology and good musicianship can warm the soul. Play songs that motivate you and provoke your heart to think spiritual thoughts, or play songs that kindle a fire within you to sing, to worship, to serve, and to love others. Play it aloud and sing aloud. That can light the fire.
2. Listen to a Good Sermon
There are so many good sermons by faithful preachers out there on the internet, and every Sunday brings more to the archive. If you’re down and out, play a good sermon by your favorite preacher or other theologically solid preachers. Listen to old favorite sermons or play past sermons from the pastor of your church. A good way to provoke the love of God within your heart is to receive a constant stream of biblical preaching into your spiritual veins.
3. Read the Puritans
This is a favorite routine of mine. Whenever I am down, I love reading the puritans because their heart for God is laid out on the pages. Their wordsmithing skills are unmatched by anyone in this age, and they have a way of encouraging us even in this era. I find a simple page or a paragraph is enough to spark joy in my soul and continue on in the work.
4. Write in a Journal, Pray through the Journal
Journaling is a wonderful practice that brings clarity to what is inside the mind. Praying through these thoughts in a journal or just writing them on paper will help with introspection and reflection. It is like looking into a mirror through the pages of your journal. This has helped me tremendously when thinking through difficult circumstances. It helps to be raw, honest, and real before the Lord. It is a place to archive petitions to God and to ask Him to refresh the love in your heart if that love feels like it has dwindled.
5. Revisit a List of Encouraging Quotes
I’m constantly compiling quotes from faithful Christians whenever I read books that I enjoy. I mark them in my books and sometimes archive them in files or online for future use. Sometimes, I will return to certain quotes from Christian authors, preachers, or theologians because it helps to remind me of the spiritual truths I already know. Make a list of these helpful statements and they can be an catalyst to you when you are in a state of apathy or indifference. It is helpful to get assistance from saints both in the past and the present by means of the written word.
6. Message or Call a friend
A simple text message or phone call to a close friend will do wonders. Good friends pray for you, good friends encourage you. Good friends will also righteously correct you when you are not doing the right things or thinking righteous thoughts. Those are the true friends. A simple outreach to a fellow church member may direct your heart back to where it needs to be. Living in a Gospel community will help keep our hearts tethered to the Lord when it has a tendency to wander into selfishness.
There are many more tips to give, and I’m sure you have your own go-to helps for encouraging the heart. What are some practical things that you do to rejuvenate your heart when it is stuck? I hope that some of these simple actions will go a long way for you as a follower of Christ whenever you find yourself in a spiritual rut.