There are four essential Christian habits for spiritual growth. Whenever one or more of these is neglected, the result is a Christian who chooses to stunt his or her spiritual growth.
1. BIBLE READING…
a. The Word of God is crucial to growing spiritually – 1 Peter 2:2
b. David described the value of God’s Word – Psalms 19:7 – 11
He also illustrated the blessedness and fortitude of one who meditated daily on the Word of God – Psalms 1:1-3
The Christian who wants to grow spiritually must therefore develop the habit of daily Bible reading…
– Such as reading through the Bible each year (about 3 chapters a day). Or perhaps the New Testament one year, the Old Testament the next.
— By feeding upon God’s Word daily, we receive the spiritual nourishment necessary to grow; have you developed the habit of daily Bible reading?
a. The practice of prayer is also required for spiritual growth
b. Through prayer we find mercy and grace to help – Hebrews 4:16
c. Through prayer we find peace to guard our hearts – Philippians 4:6-7
The Christian must therefore continue steadfastly in prayer – Romans 12:12. Perhaps emulating the example of David. Psalms 55:17 And the custom of Daniel, who prayed three times daily. Daniel 6:13
— Just as we must listen to God daily through His Word, so we must talk to Him daily if we are to grow; have you developed the habit of praying regularly?
a. Assembling together with other Christians is very important Hebrews 10:24-25
b. It is a means of stimulating one another to love and good works
c. We exhort one another in our service to Christ
Therefore Christians should make a strong habit of attending church
a. Attending as often as possible, for worship, Bible study, etc.
b. The more we attend, the stronger the habit becomes; the less we attend, the weaker the habit becomes
— Christians who make it a habit to skip gathering together struggle in their efforts to grow spiritually; no Christian has become stronger by neglecting assembled worship!
a. Praising God in song is also conducive to spiritual growth
b. David, the man after God’s own heart, developed the practice of praising God daily. Psalms 104:33; 119:164
c. If we teach one another through songs, do we not also teach ourselves when we sing? Colossians 3:16
The Christian should make singing a habit that is second nature to him or her
a. When happy, we should sing – James 5:13
b. In times of trial, we should sing. Ac 16:25
— As we develop the habits of daily Bible reading and prayer, let us also develop the habit of singing praises to God daily if we seek to grow!
I was initially surprised when reading the list to find singing in the “Top 4” as for me this would not have instinctively ranked along side the others, however the verses are compelling. Certainly for the first three we see evidence of drift. The Bible Society of Australia in a survey concludes that church attendees no longer read their bibles; much less study, memorize or meditate on the Word. Surprisingly there is little statistical difference between attendees of the different denominations. The bible has become a reference book at best rather than the handbook for life. The criterion for being categorised as a regular church attendee is not once a week but somewhere from 0.5 to 0.67. Prayer meetings if they function at all, are poorly attended.
It is therefore not surprising to find an assessment that the Christian church in Australia is anemic.
Singing? Wow! This is the first time I’ve ever seen this in such a list. Poor me! Can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Poor others if I start!
@David: Singing praises to God has become one of the most contentious issues in the Church. So much of the music of the contemporary church is performance oriented rather than God-centric. When I reflect back on the traditional hymns I sang in my youth, I realise just how much ‘theology’ I learned and how this has stayed in my memory so much more than the ‘lyrics’ of the current trendy music sung as ‘worship’.
@ KB: KB, I don’t think it’s so much the quality of ones voice or the ability to carry a tune that matters to God – it’s the genuine offering of praise and worship from ones heart that delights Him.
I too was surprised with singing. However in reading through the verses the key point I noticed is praising God, as it reflects the attitude and health of the heart, especially in times of trial. Clearly a great way to do that is through singing. However I must say I am not convinced singing is as integral as those other habits. Maybe instead of singing we note it a bit more broadly as praising God, whether that be in voice, in actions, in our choices, in our prayers, in how we treat others, and in how we conduct our lives. Singing is no doubt another way of doing that which is great.
It’s interesting Don you noted how the words of the songs can touch us so deeply. I must say listening to theologically deep Christian music, let alone singing it, is an incredibly uplifting experience. I too am concerned at how we sing and praise God in church. I’m sure we are all guilty at times for not having hearts focused on Him whilst singing to Him, however I too feel many church-lead singing is more about performance then facilitating the church in connecting with God in song. The words of the song also are even more critical then the tune itself… mind you a great tune really helps 🙂
Well, it’s agreed. Singing seems to be a surprising habit to list amongst the other three habits.
But, is it possible that we have missed a blessing that God intends for us? The verses I’ve quoted do clearly implore us to sing praise to God. We can dismiss this idea by interpreting this to mean something other than singing, but why?
Why not give it a go. We could do this in the shower, in the car, in our homes, almost anywhere. Remember, praise is about God – not us, or how we feel.
Don’t get me wrong Don… I like to sing! 🙂 I must admit that singing is good for the heart when sung in praise to God. I am just saying let’s not limit our praising God to just singing. The main point is that we praise and enjoy God, that our hearts are focused on Him. For many of us that includes singing!