I’ve been trying to pay closer attention to spiritual warfare in my own personal life for the past month, and have begun to notice some trends that may serve as helpful tips for others battling against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
#1 – Worship regularly.
This may seem obvious, but it’s critical. If you don’t worship God frequently, you’ll forget he’s at the top and put something else in his place. And I mean intentional worship in word, not just implicit worship in deed. We really have to speak the truth before we can live it. Intentional worship includes prayer, reading the Bible, singing or reading hymns & Psalms & spiritual songs, and so forth. This is where the tradition of the Daily Office comes in as arguably the most valuable resource – a healthy diet of worship in prayer, reading, and more prayer.
How frequently is “regular” worship? This is probably what varies from person to person. If you’re holier than I am, perhaps once a day is enough to keep your heart and mind focused on God throughout the day. But I am a selfish human being who likes to live in his own world; I need to engage in intentional worship of God at least twice a day to keep up my spiritual health. I’ve pursued additional times of prayer also, which help me keep the day holy before my Lord and King. Monks do this seven times a day. Perhaps a better question is how spiritually healthy do you want to be?
#2 – Carefully regulate your free time.
One famous proverb that’s not in the Bible is “idle hands are the devil’s playthings.” Despite its extrabiblical origin, I think it’s totally true. There are number of Proverbs that warn against idleness and they all ring true here: when we have too much downtime, we get selfish and put our own pleasure above God’s glory.
Now, I’m a big fan of rest. And I do not advocate being a workaholic. Overworking yourself is actually the exact same problem as being lazy: in both cases you end up distracting yourself from listening to God and worshiping him. You need to set aside enough free time to rest from your work, but not so much time that you become too lazy to get on your knees before your heavenly king.
And, once again, how much free time you can handle will vary. When my schedule for the week is too empty I fall into the trap of saying “I can do that later…” until there’s no more time left. Suddenly I find I’m guilty of sloth and have conceded another victory to the spirit of Apathy. (I tend to think Apatheos is the chief demon assigned against me.) A lot of people overwork themselves and need to force themselves to rest in order to have the energy to worship God; I tend to underwork myself and would benefit from having more things to do on a regular basis so I can maintain a healthy level of energy and discipline.
#3 – Seek godly company.
Again, this is probably a no-brainer. Being in the presence of other Christians is great for encouragement and correcting, affirmation and rebuking. We can spur one another on to good works and enjoy the deeper presence of Christ in our midst. As with everything else, the amount of godly company we need is different from person to person. Some people are much more prone to wander without other Christians by their side.
This is probably my greatest strength of the three. I guess, as a pastor, it would have to be, as it’s essentially in my job description to be a chief encourager and corrector, affirmer and rebuker within my church. If I were too dependent on other Christians helping me out, I wouldn’t be a very reliable leader. Nevertheless there are times I am lonely for Christian company (especially Anglican company since Anglicans share common spiritual disciplines such as the Daily Office).
So there you have it. Live a life of intentional worship with enough godly company to keep you going so that the light of Christ can shine through you throughout your day, both working and resting.