The Key to Spiritual Growth

Group Praying

Like most people I have habits that I would like to change or stop doing entirely.  I also have habits or practices that I would like to improve.  One of those habits is a consistent prayer life.  Prayer is considered a primary spiritual practice or discipline.  Recently a survey of pastors indicated the number one thing they would like is a more consistent prayer life.

Apparently, I am in good company. Is there a spiritual practice or discipline that you would like to improve or start anew?  Here is what I know, your success in adding or improving a spiritual practice is highly dependent on one thing: doing it every day, day after day.  This is a key to successfully improving or starting a new practice or habit.

Sir William Osler was one of the founders of John Hopkins School of Medicine and is often referred to as the father of modern medicine.  He innovated getting medical students to get out of the classroom and do bedside clinical training.  Osler once gave a speech at Yale University with a simple four-word message; “live in day-tight compartments.”

Osler was saying that one of the keys to success was to tackle life one day at a time.  This is particularly true when it comes to habits or practices you want to improve or add to your life.  The problem is that we struggle with this idea.

Psychological studies demonstrate that the average person spends 46.9 percent of their time thinking about something other than what they’re doing in the present moment. We are depressed about the past and worried about the future.  We are distracted and frustrated.  We are present half of the time.

The only way to be fully present is to live in day-tight compartments.  This is not just a good idea; it is a God idea. “Give is this day our daily bread.”  “Take up your cross daily.”  “This is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it.”  “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

We can go back to the beginning to see that God created one day at a time.  We are made in the image and likeness of God, we too function best when tackling life one day at a time.

Back to that habit or spiritual practice you would like to start or improve upon.  All spiritual practices have a single end which is closer intimacy with God so that we become more like Christ in character.  In church lingo that is called sanctification or the process by which God transforms us from the inside-out.  Spiritual practices include prayer, study, worship, fasting, service, giving and more.

The good news is the only ceiling on your intimacy with God and impact on the world is daily spiritual practices.  If you meet with God every day, God will show up.

This idea of living in day-tight compartments is helpful for improving any area of your life, not just spiritually.  If you want to improve your golf swing, practice it daily.  If you want to improve your marriage, practice serving your spouse daily.  If you want to lose weight, cut back on calorie intake and exercise daily.

Guess what happens when you do something two days in a row?  You are on a winning streak!  Do you need to get on a winning streak in your relationship with God?

You can when you commit to living in day-tight compartments or doing that new practice one day at a time.  This is the key to your success.