2020-02-11
Shutterstock.com

The great 20th century no-nonsense saint Saint Josemaria Escriva wrote, "You're bored? That's because you keep your senses awake and your soul asleep." It's a problem that has plagued Christians since the beginning. Throughout our earthly lives, it seems like most of us have gone through periods of time when our souls have fallen asleep or have become sleepy. There are times when we drift away from our faith, instead of embracing it with the zeal we once had. There are times when we hold onto our faith, but our prayer life has become so routine that we no longer feel the power, beauty and grace that are preset in the words of the The Lord's Prayer, above all, and other Christian prayers as well.

It's a problem that can be caused by a hectic schedule. It might also arise from spending a lot of time with people who vilify or ridicule Christians because of our values and beliefs. Or it could simply be the result of the boredom that can creep in when we have the same prayer routines year after year, and we forget that our faith needs to evolve.

But whenever we drift away from one thing in our lives, we drift toward something else. And since, as Christians, we believe that God is love, and Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, we have no other option but to drift towards confusion, darkness and hate/apathy. We are more easily tempted by things that can corrupt us and hurt others. We risk breaking away from the vine, which sustains us.

But the problem can be solved more easily than we think. Jesus is the good shepherd who doesn't want to lose any member of his flock. There are several things that we can do to rejuvenate/restore our Christian faith. Here are just seven of them.

Meditate on God's Word.

In Ephesians 6:17, Paul writes, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God." There's no doubt that reading and listening to the word of God is tremendously important. But it's also vital to consider how God's word applies to our lives, so that we can better understand how to embrace and live our faith. Meditating on scripture readings is one way that all Christians can find wisdom and guidance for whatever situations we find ourselves in.

One of the many ways of meditating on God's word is through the ancient practice of Lectio Divina (which means divine reading in Latin). In it, a person chooses a passage of scripture to focus on. The passage is carefully read. Then, it is meditated upon. Then, the person prays about it. Finally, the person contemplates it and rests a little in peace and silence. If someone prefers to listen to God's word, instead, Audio Divina is an alternative in which a scripture passage is listened to rather than read.

Use your creativity.

Most people would probably agree that creative activities are fun. And there are so many different ways to be creative that nearly everyone can find some activity that's enjoyable. So, when we get stuck in a rut when it comes to our faith, why not try using our creativity to break out of it?

People who like to sing can learn a new hymn and sing praises to God. Those who like to dance can dance to vibrant praise and worship music, or they can choreograph interpretive dances that focus on scripture or a biblical event. Writers can write poems about their faith. People who enjoy cooking could cook a special meal for friends or relatives who are going through challenging times. They could reflect on how Mary went to help her cousin, Elizabeth, when they were both expectant mothers. And people who are drawn to art could paint religious icons or faith-filled works of art.

Expand your prayer life.

When we find ourselves stuck in a rut, another good way to get out of it is by saying new prayers (in addition to The Lord's Prayer) or praying in a different way. Just as there are endless ways to combine faith and creativity, there are so many different ways that we can pray. Adding just one new prayer or way of praying to our repertoire of prayers can help us gain exciting new insights. And those new insights can be just what we need to revive our faith.

There are meditative prayers, such as the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, that can provide a great deal of those insights. The Rosary, in particular, helps us to better understand the life of Jesus, and it's incredibly powerful. There are also novenas (like the St. Jude novena) that can renew our hope, besides rejuvenating our faith. Additionally, there are many books of non-denominational Christian prayers and meditations that can help us to incorporate faith into different parts of our lives. We could also try praying during Adoration, which allows us to spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Read books about faith.

As most people discover, at some point in their lives, books can have a profound impact on us. Some books inspire us to do more than we thought we were capable of doing. Some books help us to love others more than we thought we could by helping us to better understand people from drastically different backgrounds. Some books help us to love ourselves more by showing us how to forgive ourselves or by helping us to see that we are not limited by other people's perceptions of who we are. And, fortunately, some authors share their vast wisdom and spiritual insights with others to help us to love God more deeply.

There are books that help nurture the faith in people in various stages and places in life. There are ones that uplift and empower us through faith, such as ones written by Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer. There are ones that help us to better explore how we can live our faith, such as ones written by Max Lucado, Gregory Boyle and Billy Graham. And there are ones that were written by saints, such as Saint Josemaria Escriva and Saint Therese of Lisieux, that help us to live holy lives. All kinds of Christian books can help us to revive our faith.

Listen to Christian podcasts.

While reading books about faith is a wonderful activity, we don't always have the time available to read them. People who don't have the leisure time necessary to read books might want to consider listening to podcasts, instead. Thankfully, there is a wide variety of Christian podcasts. And there are podcasts of varied lengths, so it should be relatively easy for people to find ones that they can listen to during their morning or evening commutes.

Listening to Christian podcasts can rejuvenate our faith in various ways. It can give us new perspectives on how we can live in this modern world and still hold on to the Christian values and beliefs that characterize our faith. It can motivate us to live our faith. And the podcasts, which can be found on many websites, including iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio, can help us to recognize that we're not alone; we're part of a worldwide community.

Participate in a church ministry.

God gives us all unique gifts. Generously sharing them with the fellow members of our churches in service of God and our neighbors is an excellent way to show God our appreciation for all that He does for us and all the good that He helps us to accomplish. And by showing God our appreciation and by being active members of our local faith communities, we can see our faith alive in our communities. By nurturing our gifts, so we can share them with our communities and our world, we also nurture our faith.

Participating in a church ministry also helps us to fulfill a calling. We are all called to see the face of Christ in others. At the same time, we are all called to let the light of Christ shine within us. Volunteering to help those in need, through a church ministry, and joyfully giving what we can to assist them is a wonderful way to fulfill both callings. When we're fulfilling what God calls us to do, we can't help but have our faith strengthened at the same time.

Go to a conference or a retreat.

We all need to remember the wisdom from The Bible that teaches us that "Iron sharpens iron." It's important for us to encourage others and be encouraged by them. While Christian podcasts help us to recognize that we're not alone, attending Christian conferences and retreats help us to interact with other people who are on similar faith journeys. The interactions help us to truly experience that we're part of a faith community that goes beyond our churches.

Christian retreats, seminars and workshops can also rejuvenate our faith in various ways. Through outstanding Christian conference speakers, our passion for God's word and our love for Jesus can be reignited. Workshops at conferences and retreats, especially, can also inspire us by giving us new ways to pray to, praise and serve God. Finally, the blessings of fellowship and friendship can also enhance our faith and our lives, in general, in amazing ways.

It's all too easy for our souls to nod off to sleep every now and then. But since we don't want a 20-minute nap to turn into a decade-long slumber, it's vital that we do what we can to try to rejuvenate our Christian faith as soon as possible. Trying one or more of these seven activities might not only revive our drowsy faith, the activities might help it to evolve in beautiful and unexpected ways.

more from beliefnet and our partners