Years ago, Kathi and I moved a house and rebuilt it on a beautiful new location. After finishing the construction of the house, we put our focus on the landscaping. The first thing I did was build a rock retaining wall so that mud would stop flowing into our driveway every time it rained. Since I am too cheap to buy sod, I went and bought a bag of seed to spread around on the dirt in hopes of reaping a lush green lawn. A month and a half later the lawn looked promising.
Then one day when the kids had their friends over, they decided to ride the four wheeler, the go cart, and golf cart round and round my yard. When they were finished riding, my newly sprouted lawn was gone. Later that night while they were inside watching TV, I was outside standing on black dirt mourning. The grass was worn down to the dirt and the beautiful lawn that I had cultivated had a sorry, dry look to it.
The dirt was lifeless. It was beaten down and exhausted. It reminds me of the way many of us might feel at the end of our work week. When we started the week on Monday, we felt healthy and full of life, but after five days of problem solving, deadlines, family issues and relentless pressure, we feel like we have been run over again, and again, and again. And by Friday we are as shredded as my lawn.
The question is, how do you fill in the gap between Monday and Sunday? Do you keep spiritually charged throughout the week so that you don’t feel so run down and beat up by the end of it? How do you not only survive the week but thrive during it?
Filling in the gap between Monday and Sunday begins when we commit to doing these five basic spiritual practices:
1. Read the Bible often. The bible is God’s written word. Second Timothy 3:16 declares: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” If you are new to reading the Bible, I suggest you start in the Gospel of John. Then read the book of Acts to give you a picture of how the early church grew. If you are struggling, read Philippians. Find a book in the New Testament (besides Revelation) and read one or two chapters a day. This will help you understand who God is and how God works.
2. Pray daily. Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. His instructions are given in Matthew 6:7-13. “7 When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need, 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
Pray in the morning, throughout the day, and before you go to bed. The point of prayer is not to recite words, It’s to connect your heart to God’s heart. Talk to Him like a friend, because he is.
3. Connect with other believers. I am in a small group and love it. We meet every week to learn together, pray for each other, and enjoy one another’s company. When we connect with other believers, it strengthens us just like it did when believers in the early church gathered. Find a group of other Christians to connect with, or at least one or two friends who will pray for you and support you, just like you will do for them.
4. Serve like Jesus. Serving others connects our hands and feet to the cause of Christ. Matthew 25:40 records Jesus saying “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Serving is important to Jesus because it helps others know that Jesus loves them and that those who believe in Christ care and desire to serve others..
5. Live generously. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” 2 Corinthians 9:6. Everything in this world is destined for the dump so don’t get consumed with consuming. Don’t fill your week pursuing things that don’t really matter. Learn to live within your means and live generously.
Don’t read these five spiritual practices as a to-do list, read them as guidelines that will help you to stay connected to Christ and growing as a believer. Nobody said that life was going to be easy. If someone told you it would be, they lied. As Christians, we need to fill in the gap between Monday and Sunday by committing to growing in our faith every day. If you focus on these five practices, and you try to improve in them little by little, you will begin to fill in the gap between Monday and Sunday. You will not only survive each week, but thrive each week. As for my lawn, I replanted and it regrew. After all, I’m raising kids not raising grass.