Cultivating our life in God is about faith, relationship and readiness. We have faith that God will do great things in and through us. We build an intimate, personal relationship by walking with Him every day. Also, we’ve got to position ourselves to be ready to act when He speaks or moves. This may sound like a tall order, but we can accomplish big things by breaking them down into small, doable daily practices that we then build into life habits. The following are 10 simple ways to cultivate the deeper life that we long for, and begin to walk it out today:
1. Start each day with expectation.
If there’s any big truth about God, it’s that He loves to meet us in the place of our expectations. If our expectations are low, He’ll challenge them, or let us go a bit longer on our lowland path before He shakes things up. Conversely, if our expectations are high He loves to meet us there — and show us amazing things. Therefore, when you rise from bed, ask God: “what wonderful thing is going to happen today?” As you go through your day, look for that wonderful thing, and join Him in it!
2. Take time to talk and listen to God.
He wants to spend time with you! It’s absolutely necessary to read our bibles and pray, but take care to just spend time with Him also. When we take the time to listen, we may be surprised at what He will say. Our time alone with God changes us from the inside out.
3. Plan and prioritize.
The most common source of stress is the perception that you’ve got too much work to do. Perhaps the most common trap for our life of faith is our reaction to that stress. Rather than letting the stress take the reigns, ask God to lead you in your day, and help you to organize what needs to be accomplished. Then take some notes on what He thinks are important. Pick the one thing that He highlights as the thing that will move you closer to your highest goal and purpose in life. Do that thing first.
4. Give a gift to everyone you meet.
Do small things with great caring. Your gift can be a smile, a word of thanks or encouragement, a gesture of politeness, even just a friendly greeting. Ask people if they would like prayer — and then pray for them right there. Never pass someone who is asking for your help without giving them something — a moment, a prayer, a sandwich or some change.
5. Deflect gossip and contention.
Never talk about others — just direct the person who is starting up gossip to the person he or she needs to be talking to. Also, arguments about causes or religious positions seldom have a “right” answer, but they definitely get people all riled up over things that ultimately only God can control. When such topics surface, ask God to give you the word of wisdom that will answer the heart, rather than take a side on the “big question”. Or simply bow out of the conversation altogether.
6. Assume people have good intentions.
Since you can’t read minds, you don’t really know the “why” behind the “what” that people do. Imputing evil motives to other people’s odd behaviors adds extra misery to your life and theirs, while assuming good intentions leaves you open to reconciliation.
7. Eat quality food with thankfulness.
Sometimes we need to eat something quick to keep us up and running. Even so, at least once a day try to sit down with a friend or family and eat something really delicious, like a small chunk of fine cheese or a piece of chocolate. Focus on the food and the company; taste them; savor them. Be thankful.
8. Do your best, then let go of the results.
A big enemy of our life of faith is worry, which comes from focusing on events which are outside our control. Focus on the job at hand, and don’t try to control the result. Once you’ve done your part, give it over to God and trust Him with it. Lay down your fantasy, good or bad, of what might happen.
9. Turn off “background” media.
Many households leave their TVs or other media on as “background noise” while they’re doing other things. The entire point of broadcast media is to make you dissatisfied with your life so that you’ll buy more stuff. Why subliminally program yourself to follow after the things of the world? Put on worship music and worship God while you take care of chores.
10. End each day with gratitude.
Just before you go to bed, write down at least one wonderful thing that happened in your day. It might be something as small as a making a child laugh, praying for someone, or time with a friend. Whatever it is, be grateful for that day because it will never come again.
This article was adapted from an article by Geoffrey James.