A Spiritual Workout Plan for the New Year

5 Mins read

In the days leading up to January 1, billions of people around the world start making their New Year’s resolutions. While these resolutions can pertain to any number of things, studies prove that the most common New Year’s resolution involves getting in better physical condition. Millions of people in the United States purchase gym memberships around the first of the year in an effort to get themselves into better shape. They want to look better, feel better, and approach life from a healthier viewpoint.

Those are admirable goals. We should take care of our bodies so that we can live healthy, productive lives. However, the same studies that focus on the number of gym memberships that are purchased at the onset of a new year also indicate that more than 64% of them are abandoned before the end of May. That’s right, most of those new gym memberships last five months or less.

As Christians, we certainly understand that our bodies are the temples of God, and as such, we should try our best to take care of them. However, we also understand that advances made within our spiritual lives are even more important.

By no means is today’s study an indictment on physical fitness. Nor is today’s study a statement about not setting physical goals for yourself in the new year. Instead, we’re going to learn what it means to grow our faith and further develop our faith-walk that we are involved in with Christ.

Don’t think of the tips that we are going to discuss today as New Year’s resolutions. Instead, consider them “new you” resolutions. When we allow the Holy Spirit to make changes within us, we can better embrace the concept of discipleship that God has for us.

Start Walking

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Keeping track of how many steps you take each day has become one of the most popular trends in the world of fitness. With apps on your phone and watches that monitor your daily movements, many people enter into friendly competitions with friends, family members, and coworkers to see who can be the most active.

In fact, many companies have reported incentivizing employees to pursue physical fitness by offering a reward to the employee who took the most steps within a given period of time. This is because healthcare professionals have pointed to something as simple as walking every day as one of the most effective ways to improve your physical wellbeing.

The Bible talks a lot about the importance of us moving forward in our spiritual lives as well. Paul compared his pursuit of Christ and His teachings to “looking forward” and to “running a race.” This is because when you’re considering things in the spiritual realm, it’s crucial that we continue moving forward.

In all four of the Gospel accounts of Christ’s life and ministry, He interacted with the men who would become the 12 disciples and told them (at least in some variation) to “follow Him.” In both Matthew 16 and Luke 9, Jesus spoke about the importance of His followers taking up their crosses and following Him. Following denotes movement. Following is about action.

We often feel like we are growing stagnant in our spiritual lives. While it’s difficult to admit that sort of thing, it’s important that we’re honest enough with ourselves to acknowledge that it does happen. Sometimes we settle into such a routine in our walk with the Lord that we feel like we’re not progressing or growing.

If that’s the case in your life, commit yourself to start walking in the new year. Take steps to become more engaged with Him. Commit to studying His Word more, being more connected to others in your local church, and spending more time in private worship.

Exercising Your Faith

2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT)
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

Resistance training is one of the most effective ways to increase muscle mass. That’s why, when you go to the gym, you see so many weight machines and free weights. When you lift weights that are heavier than your typical load capabilities, the muscles that must be used in order to life those weights get bigger.

You’ve probably also noticed that you feel sore after lifting those weights. For example, if you do bicep curls with heavy dumbbells, you probably feel very sore in your upper arms for a day or two after the work out. This is because resistance training, which is at the very heart of weightlifting, tears the muscles and allows them to heal back bigger and stronger than they were before.

While we don’t like the idea of facing adversity in our lives, those times of resistance actually provide us with a great opportunity to grow our faith. When Paul was talking to Timothy about developing his faith, he said that Timothy needed to “work hard.”

Hard work doesn’t just happen. Instead, it requires an intentional commitment to put your own comfort at risk in the name of accomplishing a goal. With that in mind, dealing with adversity is one of the most effective ways to grow your faith.

In Romans 10:17, Paul also writes that, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the Word of God.” In addition to allowing God to grow your faith through the moments of adversity that we all face, you should spend some time with God in His Word. Doing so will allow you to fully grow your faith to its full potential.

Developing Your Prayer Life

1 John 5:14-15 (NLT)
And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

Finally, one of the most effective ways to become a better disciple in the new year is to commit yourself to working on your prayer life. If you were forced to rate your prayer life on a scale of 1-10, what would be your rating? These are the types of hard questions that we need to ask ourselves if we want to see true development in our walks with Christ.

One of the most important aspects of a healthy prayer life is confidence. There are multiple passages of Scripture that point to the importance of praying boldly. When we spend time with God in His Word (which we have already discussed), we know more about His will and what pleases Him. When we pray according to what pleases God, He gives us the desires of our hearts.

When you enhance your prayer life, you become even more in tune with God. This leads to a stronger prayer life and a greater sense of purpose in your discipleship.

A Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, as I begin to make some resolutions for myself in the coming year, help me to focus on my walk with You above all else. Show me the areas in my life that need to be changed and give me the courage to make those changes. I want the next year to be a year of spiritual growth. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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