It’s common for an entire baseball team to go into a slump during a season. Nothing seems to work right—the bats feel heavy and the gloves develop big holes. Christians can go into spiritual slumps too.
When the kids are getting ready to go back to school, our schedules get readjusted. Even the church schedule adjusts in light of summer and back to school. Sometimes these changes impact the quality of our Christian walk with God.
When families go on vacation, sometimes they go on a spiritual vacation as well. While summer is a great time for needed time off, we must guard the ways that vacations affect our walks with God. We miss church meetings, we don’t pray or read the Bible as we should. But spiritual vacations are not options for Christians.
I am not trying to create rules that go beyond the pages of the Bible (that’s a danger called legalism). It is fair, however, to ask where your heart is at the end of the summer. Are you staying faithful through the temptations to slip spiritually? Here are a few suggestions for breaking out of a spiritual slump.
- Keep up the Bible reading. Try something new if the Bible seems dry. Maybe you could read a short book in the Bible through every day for a week. Have you ever read through the Gospels or the book of Acts looking for something in particular, like how the early church did evangelism? There are many ways to freshen your reading of the Bible, but there is no replacement for the spiritual passion and growth Bible reading produces.
1 Peter 2:2 says, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in resect to your salvation.” Perhaps summer has been a time to sleep-in, but it’s unwise to forget about breakfast altogether. I remember when my kids were babies. They slept a lot, but they did not miss meals. The Bible is a Christian’s spiritual nourishment.
- Stay regular in church. It does not take much to keep some families from church on Sundays. The least little reason for them to be elsewhere is reason enough. If you are in a spiritual slump, your lack of time worshipping, encouraging, and delighting in the preaching of God’s Word with other believers could be contributing. If you don’t think you’re in a slump, but your church priority is slipping, beware!
Of course we are commanded to be active members of a local church family. Hebrews 10:25 says, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” God is not trying to mess up a Sunday fun day; he commands us to assemble because we need to be with our church family.
Our hearts are like modeling clay. If you leave clay out in the sun, it becomes as hard as a rock. I remember having to put water on art projects in school to make the clay moldable again. This sounds like Hebrews 3:13 to me. It says, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Don’t let the August sun bake your hearts. Get refreshed by getting together with your church family. Come with a heart to encourage someone else. Come with a heart to hear from God as his Word is proclaimed. Take initiative to get with one of your church friends out of church and check in spiritually.
- Pray, pray, pray! No one wants you to stop slumping more than God. You may be able to argue about who cheers the most for the Braves to win the NL East, but there is no question that it is God who most passionately cares about your Christian zeal.
When you feel like you’re getting off track spiritually—pray. Ask God to keep you spiritually strong. When you know you are in a slump—pray. Ask God to bring you out quickly. When you are faithfully walking with God—pray. As the hymn says, it was grace that brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home. God is willing and able to respond to your prayers for his grace.
God says, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It seems to me that August qualifies as a time we need to be praying! Find a Christian friend that you can pray with, and that will remind you to be praying some every day. Prayer is our lifeline to God. Find Psalm 119. As you read it, let each verse be turned into a prayer.
I love the summertime. But by God’s grace, I love God more than summer. I am thankful for the forgiveness that he, through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, pours out on me. He will forgive you if you have had a rough spiritual summer so far. After you confess your sin, turn up your spiritual disciplines a notch. These are the means God uses to get us through all parts of the year.