Feel Closer to God with an Intentional Spiritual Growth Plan

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Feel Closer to God with an Intentional Spiritual Growth Plan

Feeling closer to God can be elusive but mostly because we do not know how to grow spiritually; the secret is to make sure we have an intentional spiritual growth plan...

Tags: intentional spiritual growth, intention, spiritual growth, discipline, closer to god, close to god


Have you ever accomplished anything without first setting a goal?

Sure, dumb luck can happen, but it’s nothing to bet your future on.

If you look back at your own life, you will likely find that your greatest achievements happened because you started with an intentional plan.

Even the Bible references that achieving success in what we want requires planning:
“May he give you the desires of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” (Psalms 20:4)

Consider the following:

You have a great job because you intentionally got educated, searched for a good job, and then performed well on that job.

You have an amazing family to love because you were intentional about dating, loving, and marrying a wonderful partner.

You built that fit body because you were intentional about eating right and exercising.

You have great friends because you were intentional about spending time with them, doing things for them, and caring about them.

You have a growing savings and retirement account because you are intentional about saving money for your future.

You have an amazing spiritual life because... uh...

DO you have a growing spiritual life?

HAVE you set spiritual growth goals?

DO you have a spiritual growth plan?

If not, is it reasonable to expect to achieve spiritual growth... to feel closer to God?

Why would achievement in your spiritual growth be any different than achievement in other areas of your life?

Needing an Intentional Spiritual Growth Plan


Like so many areas of life, spiritual growth won’t “just happen” no matter how long we decide to wait on the Holy Spirit.

But it can be difficult to know how to grow spiritually.

Real spiritual growth DOES require some spiritual activity. Just like good health requires physical activity and growing wealth requires financial activity.

To be clear, we’re not talking about “works-based” religion - the idea that certain activities are necessary to gain God’s favor.

No... we’re talking about developing the necessary disciplines to put your faith into practice in a way that actually gives you the desired result - true spiritual growth and feeling closer to God!

Sure, there are some dramatic examples from the Bible of instantaneous spiritual transformation...

There’s Moses at the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3.

There’s Saul getting struck on the road to Damascus in Acts chapter 9.

But let’s be honest. If you’re waiting for something like this, chances are you will never draw closer to God.

When we simply expect our spiritual growth to happen or ignore it, we set ourselves up for failure.

A recent survey conducted by Barna found that 60% of Christians WANT to have a deep commitment to the Christian faith. The problem - they are not involved in any INTENTIONAL effort to do so.

Given the importance of INTENTIONAL spiritual growth, we need an effective strategy - a spiritual growth plan.

Building an Intentional Spiritual Growth Plan


Building an intentional spiritual growth plan doesn’t have to be difficult.

Plus, it doesn’t have to take a lot of your time.

I know it can seem overwhelming to try to add anything more to your schedule.

In our modern age, our calendars are completely full. Most of us are exhausted with the responsibilities we already have. We rarely (or never) have time for the hobbies we used to love.

So how in the world can we start to build an intentional spiritual growth plan?

Here are 3 simple steps to build an intentional spiritual growth plan:

1. Select a personalized list of spiritual growth activities
2. Schedule spiritual growth activities on a calendar
    - Create “extra” time
    - Decide how much time to dedicate towards each activity
    - Write it on your calendar
3. Follow the plan as Scheduled

STEP#1: Select Personalized List of Spiritual Growth Activities


First, you’ll want to create a list of spiritual growth activities.

Before we talk about any specific activities, I encourage you to choose what you will WANT to do.

Don’t add weekly church only because it seems like the right thing to do. Instead, choose things you are most likely to do. This will set you up for greatest success. You can always add church once you start wanting to go.

I like to bucket spiritual growth activities into 2 big buckets: 1) traditional and 2) non-traditional.

First, the traditional bucket.

There is a fairly standard set of spiritual growth disciplines. Before you dismiss these or build your own entirely from scratch, consider they have biblical roots - thus, by their design, they work!

Here is a great starting list:
1. Church Attendance
2. Bible Reading
3. Prayer Time
4. Daily Devotional
5. Memory Verses
6. Small Groups and/or Discipleship Group Meetings
7. Community Service
8. Listening to “Extra” Sermons

These are such established spiritual growth disciplines, we’ve included them in our Spiritual Growth FIT test, which you can get FREE HERE - Spiritual Growth FIT Test!

Also, there are non-traditional disciplines.

Here, you can think “outside the box” about ways to grow spiritually. Here are a few examples to get you started:
1. Share your faith with others
2. Perform a random act of kindness for a stranger (e.g., buy another’s groceries, give away a $5 Starbuck’s gift card)
3. Call someone to encourage them

Spiritual growth comes out of how we develop our “vertical” relationship (i.e., with God) as well as our “horizontal” relationships (i.e., with others). Thus, the more we interact with those around us in serving and positive ways, the more we tend to grow spiritually.
Thus, you should capture some of these “activities” in your plan.

STEP#2: Schedule Spiritual Growth Activities on Calendar


Once you’ve got your list, you can start deciding how much time you want to dedicate towards each activity.

This is where the battle is won or lost for most of us.
The fact is, we live in a VERY distracting world. We have lots of things... even good things... that battle for our attention. The busyness and distraction in our world is truly overwhelming.

This is precisely why before we schedule our intentional spiritual growth activities, we need to be realistic about finding the time for them.

I’m going to show you how to create “extra” time in your schedule for your intentional spiritual growth. I know it sounds impossible, but here’s how to make it happen.

Create “Extra” Time

First, I want to alleviate any anxieties about how much time you’re looking to create.

Do not start with trying to find extra HOURS in your week. That lofty goal will only leave you feeling deprived and you’ll quickly revert to doing less, not more.

No... you only need to find a few minutes a day to get started.

That’s right... just a few minutes.

Even better, you can use minutes you are already dedicating to other things.

Allow me to explain.

Did you know you can pray anywhere... anytime? That’s good news because it means that even as you are busy with other tasks on your daily to-do list, you can add in some of your spiritual growth activities.

Even though we may not feel close to God, He is with us always (Matthew 28:20). We can speak with Him at any moment.

As such, you can start praying to God while you wait in line at Starbuck’s or the grocery store checkout lane. Do you spend a lot of time on the road, either commuting to work or carting around your kids to school and kids' sports? More good news... this is prime time to talk to God.

Yes, it's multitasking, but it's a great way to start adding minutes of prayer time into your day.

Now admittedly, you may not want to have ALL your prayer time waiting in lines or driving in the car. Eventually, you’ll want that isolated quiet time with God so you can hear His answers to your prayers :)

But if you aren’t getting ANY prayer time in right now, these are great ways to start.

You don’t need to commit to 30 minutes of prayer time each day right away. Just start somewhere. Start with a 5 minute goal.

Over time, you’ll find yourself highly motivated to seek other ways to find time to talk to God... because He’ll be showing up more often for you.

When you're looking for even more time, I highly suggest you examine your weekly TV habits. It is likely you'll find several hours from which to repurpose to spiritual growth activities.

Decide How Much Time to Dedicate Towards Each Activity

Now that you have created “extra” time for your spiritual growth activities, you can decide how much of that time you want to dedicate towards each.

Next to each item on your spiritual growth activity list, write down which day(s) of the week you intend to do that activity.

You can use check marks for the days of the week and write time goals, as appropriate, for each activity.

Here’s what it could look like:
Example Intentional Spiritual Growth Plan Image

Feel free to make your own tracker, or you can download our FREE Intentional Spiritual Growth Planner template.

Write Activities on Your Calendar

At this point, you simply need to add all these activities in the desired dates and time increments to your calendar of choice - either a day planner or an electronic calendar.

When your spiritual growth activities show up along with all your other “to-do’s” you’ll be reminded to dedicate yourself to them. The result is the foundation for growing spiritually and feeling closer to God. Your activity will “invite” the transformation you seek.

STEP#3: Follow the Plan as Scheduled


If you’ve made it this far, you’ve already taken a huge step towards feeling closer to God with an intentional spiritual growth plan.

You've set yourself up for success.

Now the most important part... actually FOLLOWING your plan.

You have clearly documented what you plan to do and when you plan to do it. You have also put a system in place that highly increases the chance you will do what you plan - specifically, adding these activities into your calendar.

Do not worry too much about missing one activity here and there. It is bound to happen in our modern busyness. Just make sure you aren't skipping a lot. That will only prevent you meeting your spiritual growth goals.

Now here’s the exciting part.

As you start growing through your spiritual growth activity, you will naturally be drawn to do more.

I know it may be hard to believe that you’d ever WANT to go to church more often, or go to a small group meeting, or memorize more Bible verses. But when you start experiencing the benefits of a growing spiritual life, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

For example, when you receive the blessing of encouragement in a struggle in your career from someone in your discipleship group, you'll be eager to meet with the group again.

When a memory verse like 1 Corinthians 10:13 pops into your head and helps you defeat temptation instantly, you'll be eager to memorize more verses that will help you live a blessed life.

In summary, the practical application of what you learn in the Bible and through spiritual growth activities is profound. You’ll find yourself desiring it enormously.

Once you have your plan in place, you should expect to revisit and revise it as needed. Your schedule and your opportunities for certain activities are bound to change as you grow.

Conclusion


Like every other area of life, our spiritual growth achievements and feeling closer to God will only happen if we are intentional about them.

We must set spiritual growth goals and be involved with spiritual growth activities if we expect to grow.

If we do not, we will surely be dragged around by a list of other priorities that leave us untransformed 5, 10, or 20 years later.

While it may feel impossible to start an intentional spiritual growth plan, here is an easy way to get started.

First, identify a few minutes a day you can dedicate towards a spiritual growth activity.

Second, grab our FREE Intentional Spiritual Growth Planner resource.

The resource provides a nice template to take you through these 3 easy steps:

1. Select a personalized list of spiritual growth activities
2. Schedule spiritual growth activities on a calendar
    - Create “extra” time
    - Decide how much time to dedicate towards each activity
    - Write it on your calendar
3. Follow the plan as Scheduled

If you know anyone else who is looking to feel closer to God and may benefit from building an intentional spiritual growth plan, please share this article and resource with them!

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