Posted by: Philip Rushton | July 9, 2012

Don’t Go All Or Nothing: Confronting the challenges of finding spiritual rhythms

I have noticed a frustrating trend in my life and and the lives of other spiritual seekers.  We often start out with good intentions of developing a rhythm of prayer or scripture meditation, but within a couple of weeks our commitment begins to wane.  I have talked with a few people that have started to experience this with our summer focus on praying the Psalms.  Truth be told, I  fell behind on the prayer schedule last week myself.  The stress of James’ health complications quickly crowded out the Psalms.

If this is the case for you let me encourage you to not give up!  For some reason, we have this tendency to think that if we miss a day of a reading schedule then the whole plan is shot.  We prematurely throw in the towel.    We often approach our spiritual practices as an all or nothing thing.  After a couple days of missed opportunities we give up all together.   My encouragement to you is to simply pick up where you left off, or jump back into the schedule where it starts today.  Every day there is a new opportunity to connect with God!

Do you experience this “all or nothing” approach to spiritual practices?  What do you think causes this?  For me I think it is a sense of discouragement.  When I get out of rhythm for a couple of days I feel guilt and frustration.  These are not very motivating emotions.  I also think it is the product of how our culture views time.  We live in a hectic, fast-paced culture where time is a precious commodity.  Often the spiritual disciplines require us to slow down and recognize that the goal is not to simply get things over with, but to savor the moments we have been given.  This requires a change in perspective on our part.

Thankfully we follow a God who patiently and graciously calls us back to himself again and again.  My you be encouraged that you have an opportunity to reconnect with the living God today!

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Responses

  1. Thanks, Phil! A good reminder of a habit that I easily fall victim to. We’re thinking of and praying for you guys and James!

  2. Phil, I think you just described my commitment to weightlifting as a part of my workout routine!

    • I hear you! I have a neglected set of weights that stare at me with judgmental eyes every day as I walk past them en route to
      the laundry rooms. Weight lifting sucks!

  3. Hey Phil, I can relate to disruptions and stresses that crowd out my intended schedule of reading and praying. My reason for giving up is the faulty belief that I have to go back and “catch up” – which is extremely difficult given my already busy schedule. But… giving myself permission to jump back into today’s schedule and continue on is very helpful. That, I believe, is doable.
    Gotta go and do my reading and praying – without that nagging guilt that I’m not doing it right. Thanks!! We continue to pray for you and your family. Louella

    • Thanks Louella. I feel the same way. There is that sense that I have to play catch up and it ends up making things seem very overwhelming. I think that is what I was trying to say, thanks for helping me put words to what I’ve experienced! The danger in playing catch up is that we end up rushing through things. And the act of rushing defeats the whole purpose of prayer. Richard Foster writes, “It is important for us to resist the temptation to pass over many pages (of scripture) superficially. Our rushing reflects our internal state, and our internal state is what needs to be transformed.”
      Thanks again!


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