What spiritual habits are you going to develop in 2023? Each year brings new opportunity to grow to be more like Christ. Thankfully, God has left us many examples of godly men and women throughout history who have pursued Him and His glory. Let us learn from such examples what it means to seek and serve the Lord.
As the year starts, I find it useful to take stock of what spiritual disciplines are consistent in my life and what specific spiritual habits I need to grow in. Thankfully, I was able to open up the year reading an excellent essay/sermon by Donald S. Whitney on the spiritual disciplines of Jonathan Edwards. The essay is entitled “Pursuing a Passion for God Through Spiritual Disciplines” and it is published in the book “A God Entranced Vision of All Things.” If you can, give the essay a read as the year starts to get your mind thinking about developing good spiritual habits for 2023.
Today, I want to share my own takeaways and thoughts from reading this essay. Every time I read about how disciplined Johnathan Edwards was in his pursuit of the Lord and his use of time, I am humbled and motivated to become more disciplined myself. For the remainder of this article, I want to discuss five spiritual habits I want to focus on in 2023 based on reading about Jonathan Edwards.
Habit 1: Remembering it is the Spirit who bears the fruit.
Every time I start thinking about spiritual disciplines, I tend to focus on the disciplines themselves rather than their purpose. It is easy to do: you and I live in a very pragmatic, check-the-box culture. The problem of importing that thinking into spiritual disciplines is you end up, as Whitney says, feeling that you can become automatically godly simply by doing different spiritual disciplines. For example, starting the year with the goal of reading through the entire Bible is a good discipline. However, the end goal should not simply be checking the daily reading boxes. Rather, the discipline is for the greater purpose of knowing God.
Any spiritual habits you and I want to develop in 2023 should all have a Godward focus and goal. The Holy Spirit is the one who bears fruit in our lives. You and I are dependent on God for the growth that can accompany spiritual disciplines and habits. So, resolve this year to not simply “add more boxes to check” in your spiritual disciplines. Resolve also to become more aware and dependent on the Holy Spirit to conform you to Christ.
Spiritual disciplines should grow our dependence on Christ, not make us feel more dependent on ourselves.
Habit 2: Having a Scripture to chew on throughout the day.
If you are like me, there is always about three dozen moments each day when you are waiting on something. You might be in line at a store, stuck in traffic, or waiting for food to cook. The modern tendency (and Christians are far from immune) is to fill those “waiting moments” with entertainment or distraction. It is easier to pull out your phone to fill an empty moment than it is to redeem that time for God’s glory. Whitney makes the point that Edwards spent extensive time throughout the day not just reading Scripture, but meditating on Scripture.
What if after your morning quiet time or Bible reading you chose one verse or sentence to carry with you throughout the day? Instead of pulling out your phone during your quiet moments, you could pull out that verse or sentence and spend time thinking through it. What does it really mean? What are the implications? Are there any other Biblical verses that come to mind? I want to spend more time thinking deeply about Scripture like Edwards did this year, and I think this is a great habit to do just that. Pack a verse with you as you pack your lunch for work. Take a sentence from Jesus or Paul with you on your shopping trip. Let us fill our free moments in 2023 with truth instead of entertainment.