Symptoms include irritability, emotional exhaustion, increased insecurities, heightened worrying, nearly nonexistent patience, loss of compassion, feeling that life is overwhelmingly chaotic, and an overall bad attitude. These symptoms may be accompanied by a resurgence of long repented of sins or an influx of new ones. You’re probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about. You don’t know of any disease that includes those symptoms! I’m not talking about any physical disease, but a spiritual one. One that can be prevented, or cured if you already have it. I’m talking about spiritual starvation.
The path to spiritual starvation is a slow fade. It may start with falling away from good habits, like reading our Bible regularly and meeting together with other Christians. Life gets busy and we just can’t maintain the schedule we used to keep for those activities. Then maybe we became bored of the Christian radio station playing the same few songs over and over, so we quit listening all together. Maybe the hurtful words of a fellow Christian caused us to pull away. Or the confusion of all the different denominations and church doctrines. Eventually you find yourself somewhat isolated, and exhibiting many of the symptoms I listed above.
If this is you, there’s good news! It will take some work on your part, but you can get out of the funk you’re in. Spiritual starvation is only permanent if we choose to let it be! Here are my tips for curing spiritual starvation. The same tips, when implemented before the fade, can prevent the problem as well!
Step 1: Take it to the Lord
Once we realize the spiritual state we are in, we need to take it to God. Tell Him what we’re seeing in our self. Tell Him how we feel. The Lord already knows, but for our own benefit we need to confess what has happened and ask for help. Ask the Spirit to open our eyes to how we got there, and to help us get back to where we want to be. Pray to begin this process, and throughout. Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17)
Step 2: Forgive
If someone has hurt you or sinned against you, forgive them. Easier said than done, I know. Holding onto unforgiveness is like poison to our soul. It makes us bitter, prevents healing, and pulls us away from God. Mark 11:25 says, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” We need to forgive others, that God may forgive us. So, not only do we need to forgive others for what they’ve done to us, but we have to repent and ask the Lord for forgiveness for any sins that pulled us away from Him. Once we recieve that forgiveness, which is given in an instant whether we feel it or not, we need to accept it and move on, rather than dwelling on it and holding unforgiveness against our self!
Step 3: Get into the Word
The Word of God is our spiritual food! No matter the cause, the fact of spiritual starvation is that we are not feeding on God’s word like we need to. In Matthew 4:4, while satan was tempting Jesus, our Savior quoted the book of Deuteronomy saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” For the spirit man inside us to live, we have to be feeding on God’s word!
One important way we do that is by attending church services. Paul quotes Isaiah and tells the people in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” We need to hear the word of God!
Another way is to read the word and study it ourselves. In doing so we renew our minds, and God works in us to have the mind of Christ (Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 2:16). Christ’s mind did not harbor insecurities, irritability, or worry, and neither will ours if we stay in the word and bind our minds to His!
Listening to music that praises God and quotes scripture can feed us as well. This is more like a snack, and should not be our only source of the word. However, it definitely compliments the other ways of digging in to God’s word and helps fill in those times where we simply cannot sit down with our Bible or listen to a sermon.
Step 4: Seek wise counsel
Sometimes we cannot get through this season on our own. We need prayer support, counseling to work through our hurts and forgive, or guidance for where to start reading in our Bible. Do not be afraid to ask for help! Even Jesus needed help for a time to carry His cross! Just make sure you find wise, Godly counsel so you are not pointed in a wrong direction.
I know these steps can seem impossible if the reason for our spiritual starvation is lacking time. But the honest truth is we make time for things that we see as a high priority. The Lord, and our relationship with Him, should be our highest priority. Over work, friendships, marriage and kids! There are lots of things we can do to incorporate these steps into our day! We can pray while we’re in the shower. Read our Bible during lunch break. Listen to worship music while we’re cleaning the house. We can get up a half hour before the kids do, or stay up a half hour after they do to pray and do a devotional. If Sunday mornings don’t work, many churches offer services and Bible study groups at other times during the week.
If you are still having trouble carving out time to spend with the Lord, pray and ask God for help! He wants to spend time with us too, and will show you where you can alter your schedule to make time.
There you have it. Four steps to curing, or preventing, spiritual starvation, Have you found yourself in that place before? Please share your experience to encourage others in the comments below. Are you in that place right now? Feel free to ask for prayer, either in the comments or by sending me an email. You don’t have to go it alone!