When the Spirit seems willing
by MW Cook
We all face those times when the physical seems to attack the spirtual. Sometimes we just seem too tired, hungry, hot or uncomfortable to hear or obey the Spirit. So what do we do? Do we give up and say ‘Oh well, I’d love to love God but my durned sinful body won’t let me.’? No. We fight the good fight. If the body worked for us then the spiritual struggle wouldn’t be all that big of a struggle, would it?
So what do we do when the moment of truth comes and we find that we just don’t care? What do we do when we know we should do our duty but can’t muster up the joy or will to do it? I have a few ideas and I’ve broken them down into dos and don’ts
- Pray about it.
- Duh. When you feel crappy and don’t want to obey then pray, ‘God, I feel crappy and I don’t want to obey.’ You won’t catch him off guard, he knows how you feel. Be honest. Ask for help. Pray hardest when you don’t feel like praying because that’s when you’re in the most danger. And remember, he who bought you is faithful and he won’t let you fall to the uttermost. Get close to that vine.
- Get a drink.
- Okay, maybe this one shouldn’t head the list, but I think the concept behind it should stand. When I wake up in the morning I look and feel like the zombies out of Heroes 5. I can hardly walk or speak, let alone commune with the ruler of the cosmos, and I’d hit anyone who crosses my path with a big, rusty knife. In Canada I prepare the coffee maker before I go to bed and just flip the switch as soon as I wake up. Some people don’t like the idea of caffeine being used as a spiritual help. I figure that drinking coffee to help my time with God is about the best use of coffee I can think of. This suggestion isn’t really about coffee, but whatever it is that wakes you up, be it tea, juice, or quick exercise. There are a few words of warning, though. Don’t do anything that takes more than three minutes. That’s coming close to distraction. If all you need is a stiff, black coffee don’t fire up the cappuccino machine. Also don’t make the mistake of thinking you absolutely need whatever help you’re using. If you can’t get your coffee you’ll still need to suck it up and pray.
- This one is more focused on personal times of prayer and meditation than other spiritual duties. Writing helps you to stay focused and remember what you’re doing. How many times have you been tired while praying and suddenly found that you stopped praying and were thinking about a movie you saw last week? Writing keeps you on track and it gives you a great record of what you’ve been reading and praying about.
- Opening the Bible to wherever you feel the Spirit leads is usually not so helpful. A Bible reading plan is great. I use something called The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan. You can find it on the Internet. It suggests four separate readings a day (I only do three). It’s helpful because you get a better picture of scripture and you can see yourself making progress. A Prayer plan would also be helpful. Make a document on your computer or in your journal or on a whiteboard. A list of thins to pray for daily and weekly. Don’t listen to the goons who call it legalistic. It’s only legalistic if you make it that way. It’s a help.
- Be regular.
- Don’t miss a day. I don’t care if you’re staying at a friend’s house or in an airplane or whatever. Don’t miss a day. There are few things harder than trying to re-establish a habit that was messed up once. One time is all the flesh needs to get away from its medicine. Don’t miss a day.
- Be willing to break the rules.
- Not legal rules, social ones. Be willing to cut a meeting short because you have to go pray. Be willing to give that homeless guy a hundred bucks instead of a quarter. Be willing go to bed a little earlier for the sake of a good morning. Be willing to be looked at funny for the sake of Jesus. Imagine no one is looking, and do the right thing.
- Pay attention to all the disciplines.
- I’ve had my prayer life hurt by lack of evangelism. I’ve had the Bible seem to dry up in my hands because of lack of prayer. Marital problems have, in the past, caused me to shudder at the suggestion of prayer. Every part of your life is connected. When you have felt dry for an extended period of time examine yourself. Where is your life in trouble? What do you need to pick up again to get it going? Prayer? Bible? Fasting? Service? Giving? Meditation? Preaching? Evangelism? Examine yourself hard.
- Get out.
- Of your comfort zone, that is. We toss that phrase around a lot but few know what it really means. Do something good that’s uncomfortable. Go visit a sick person or widow. Get down to Jane and Finch and give out the Gospel. Pray in public. Something good that hurts.
- Just do it.
- Duty sometimes leads to desire. Just do it, soldier.
- Follow your heart.
- Christians have forgotten that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick. When you know what you should do you often hear that little desire in the back of your mind telling you to do something else that seems so much easier and rather innocent. Your heart will try to get you to do anything other than your duty because duty and truth are generally odious to your sinful little heart. Be wary of the suggestions of the heart, they point to a very easy path.
- Do what’s easy.
- The easy road is almost never the right one. If the easy road was the right one then I would think that most people in the world would be happy, holy and generally satisfied with life. As it is most people are miserable, profane and generally pissed with everything that crosses their path. Usually you will find duty and help to be off the beaten track, outside the camp.
- Get distracted.
- Don’t take a nap. Don’t go for a walk to clear your head. Don’t play that game just for five minutes. Stay focused! When people think of the devil they usually think of some demon possessing people or drawing them to nasty, blatant sins. I picture a man selling candy. Don’t buy that crap. Stay on target.