Decluttering your spiritual life

Do you sometimes feel in a bit of rut spiritually? Same Bible reading plan for more years than you can remember? Rather an effort to slot in a daily time alone with God? And frankly overwhelmed by all the stuff you feel guilty you’re not praying about?

Even if that’s not you, carrying out a kind of audit of your spiritual life may be helpful.

Asking a few questions to assess how well you’re in touch with what the Holy Spirit wants to do in you could be inspiring. Here’s some ideas to get started.

  • Begin with the Bible – perhaps with this nugget from Psalm 119.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (verse 105)                                                                        

Ask God to show you the way He sees you’re walking right now and to reveal His will for the way ahead. How can you make the Bible the central source of hearing from God? Research study plans and notes.

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help – He longs for us to experience the incredible richness of knowing Christ and has more to give us than we can imagine. We are unable to find the truth, wisdom, fulfilment and love we seek without God’s grace.

Ephesians 4;12, 19 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  

  • Ditch feeling guilty – even though the devil would prefer you not to! It’s important to acknowledge our need for God’s forgiveness and recognise where we fail but then to seek after the vision and strength to move forward.

Psalms again – this time 139;23,24. Search me O God and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me. And lead me to life everlasting. 

  • Plan how you pray – the ACTS pattern works well as a framework. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Do you enjoy listening or singing along to Christian music, or finding other stimuli to focus on the awesomeness of God? is there stuff you know you should say sorry about? Thanking God for what He’s done – whether that’s over many years or yesterday is a great faith lifter.  Then there’s asking prayers which Jesus strongly encouraged again and again.

Matthew 7;7. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened to you.

  • Give to others – If we believe praying results in God’s will being done, standing with others is a wonderful thing to do. You can’t pray about everything but why not decide on half a dozen people or ministries to invest in – specific requests you can follow up. Work out the best way to make that happen. A list in your Bible? A prayer app like Prayermate? Booklets or prayer letters you receive?

1 Thessalonians 1;2 We give thanks to God for you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfast hope…

The subject of prayer is unfathomable and this little blog just scratches the surface. But I hope even one thing might act as an encouraging catalyst to revitalise your walk with God.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

 

Time to spring clean your prayer life? Here are 6 great ways.

With spring on the way, the autumn of your life could be a great time to dust off your prayer life.

Like me, perhaps your times of Bible reading and prayer have become less than you wanted them to be. Working full time and years of hands-on motherhood certainly made me ridiculously busy.

It’s so easy to find prayer taking second place when you have one eye on the clock, to-do lists that seem never done, and constantly delivering other people’s agendas.

Does any of that sound like you? Have you found carving out time for you and God a challenge? That it’s been a bridge too far to find the strength you need each day – able to do little more than praying on the hoof and reading favourite bits of Scripture to keep you going in between Sundays?

Then help’s on the way – with six simple ways to spring clean your times with God. But first please ditch any guilt you may feel for the way it has become.

God understands and is so very gracious. No matter what, he meets us where we are and as we are – answering our prayers and encouraging us to keep following him.

But there’s more on offer than that in your after-work years – the autumn season of your life.

If you desire a greater sense of the Holy Spirit speaking truth, guidance and encouragement into your heart and soul you might decide to introduce more spiritual discipline into your life.

Life will still be hectic at times, but generally you should have a bit more flexibility to reorder your priorities. If renewing your prayer life is towards the top of that list the following might help.

  1. If you give a portion of your money to God’s work how about giving a portion of your time too? How much of your week is spent not only attending church and other activities and personal time with God in Bible reading, worship and prayer?
  2. This isn’t about being a ‘better’ Christian but a thirstier one!. God save us from self-righteousness!
  3. Augustine’s maxim was: ‘Pray as if it all depended on God and work at it as if it all depended on you.’ Faith is deciding to trust God which usually leads to action too.
  4. Without the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and strength, it’s impossible to deepen your prayer life. Reading plans and prayer lists, excellent though they are, won’t work on their own.
  5. What are the logistics of when, where and how to make this regular time happen? Philippa Lally, health psychology researcher at UCL says ‘If someone wants to form a habit they should specify clearly what they will do and in what situation and try to do this consistently. Over time it will start to happen more easily and require less effort.’
  6. Don’t be discouraged. There will be times when your best intentions just don’t work out. God is the One who rescues and lifts you up when you stumble. His love is stronger than anything else on earth and in heaven.

To explore more on this issue, our website has some helpful content on Nurturing Your Faith.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

10 Smart Ways to Keep Feeling Good When Your Working Life Ends

When the P45 is handed over, the pass to the company door is no longer valid, and there’s no one for you to give instructions to or take them from, the penny soon drops.

It is that the subtle thing called ‘status’ has also left the building. And for some it can be somewhat unnerving, taking the gloss of what ought to be days of joy.

It’s easy to understand why. Once we stood shoulder to shoulder with colleagues. Looked up to those to whom we were responsible. Held accountable those we were responsible for.

We were ‘someone’. But now we are on our own. With all that clarity gone.

Of all the changes that come ‘after work’, this one impacts us most in terms of how we feel about ourselves. And for many it is not enough to say ‘well at least I now have more time to prune the roses’.

So, what’s to be done?

The spiritual bit

If our sense of personal value and self-worth depends only on our role in life, and the approval of others, then we are missing something.

Our status and significance ought to be wrapped up in the God who had us in mind before anything existed, loves us unconditionally and paid the ultimate price to restore our relationship with him. Indeed, our true value can only be measured in the price he was willing to pay for us – the life of his own son.

We matter not because others tell us we do. But because God tells us so. Mull on these amazing facts and let them sink in. God would have you know –

You are unique Psalm 139.13, You are loved Jeremiah 31.3, You are special Ephesians 2.10, You are precious 1 Corinthians 6.20, You are important 1 Peter 2.9, You are chosen John 15.16, You are mine Isaiah 43.1.

That is not the total answer to facing the loss of status that comes when work ends. But it is a vital foundation.

The practical bit

Those who are happiest in retirement – according to Stewart Friedman, founding director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project – are those who do more than just relax, watch TV box sets, travel and walk the dog. They are those who, ‘look to use their talents and passions to make a contribution’.

With that in mind, here are ten practical things you can do:

1. Make the change gradually if you can – a slide into ‘after work’ rather than hitting the buffers full-on can be better

2. Don’t fill your time with whatever comes to hand – or what people throw your way. Aim for some clearly defined projects and goals that have an outcome you can see. 

3. Get a job or volunteer – ideally part time. The status may well be different but it can still be fulfilling both for the tasks involved and the human contact it brings.

4. Learn a new skill or develop an existing one. A musical instrument? Touch typing? Photography? Line dancing? Computer literacy? The options are vast.

5. Join a project group – a choir, drama company (they need more skills than just actors), environmental group, local political party, etc.

6. Asses how what you were good at in your work life can be used in the context of your church, a Christian agency or your local community. And then look for opportunities.

7. Don’t sign up for rotas in your church simply because you now have the time. Also look for productive roles that draw on your past experience and skills.

8. Identify your skill base and see where it can be used to teach, train, mentor or serve others.

9. Take up an activity. It doesn’t have to be golf, bridge or bowls. Check out badminton, walking football, fishing, boating, swimming, painting, woodwork and more. And, if possible, take lessons so you have a peer group.

10. Start a business. Is there a local niche you can fill? There’s always a need for someone to walk dogs, fix computers and bicycles, watch empty houses. And web-based start-ups are easy and cost little to fund. 

Finally, try not to figure out your future all on your own. Tap into others who have been this way or are at the same place you are.

Peter Meadows

Peter uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and spend his kids inheritance.

Have you tried any of these practical things? Do you have any tips of your own? Please share your experience with the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group.

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife