Practicing Spiritual Self-Care

With so many pressing needs around us during this challenging season, we require nurturing and care for our spiritual life on a continual basis.  We often default to prayer and are unaware of other methods of spiritual self-care. Here are some additional methods for keeping our spiritual life alive and vibrant.

Jesus invites us to the ministry of self-care: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Here Jesus points out two things in us:

  1. We are laboring
  2. We are heavy laden

Spiritual self-care invites you to conduct a self-assessment by asking yourself some important questions:

  1. What’s holding your heart?
    • What cares/concerns have held your heart recently and why?
    • Write them down
  2. What are your pending thoughts?
    • Any unresolved issues?
    • Do you have hopes and plans not quite worked out?
    • What dreams of yours are deferred?
    • What plans do you have in motion?

We all have “things” that are hindering our spiritual self-care. Generally, they fall into one of these categories:

  1. Old habits
  2. Behaviors we won’t let go
  3. Excess baggage
  4. Too busy for our own good
  5. Lazy attitudes
  6. Not disciplined
  7. Sinful behavior
  8. Actions or thoughts God is not pleased with

Some methods of spiritual self-care include Sabbath principles from Marva Dawn’s book, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly.

“…nothing can capture the mystery of the Sabbath, the peace of God’s eternal presence in that day, except the intentional choice of welcoming it and honoring it.” Marva Dawn

I. Ceasing: coming to an end

“The spiritual rest which God especially intends in his commandment (to keep the Sabbath holy) is that we not only cease from our labor and trade but much more — that we let God alone work in us and that in all our powers we do nothing of our own.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ceasing involves freedom from:

  1. Worry and work
  2. Need to accomplish and be productive
  3. Our efforts to be in control of our lives as if we were God
  4. Life pursued without God’s purpose in the center

Ceasing occurs when we:

  1. Retreat
  2. Honor a regular Sabbath time
  3. Pray (including intercessory prayer)
  4. Daily devotional reading of the Bible

Ceasing deepens our repentance for the many ways we fail to trust God and try to create our own future.

II. Resting: to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. The renewing of our whole being requires us to:

  1. Cease spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual and social acts.
  2. Be intentional!
  3. Rest for one day. Resting provides us an added benefit of a day of complete physical rest that gives us extra strength and zeal for the tasks of the other six days.
  4. Strengthen our faith in the grace of God.
  5. Requires time away from our emotional and intellectual problems. This enables us to come back to them with fresh perspectives, creative insights and renewed spirits. This is where God can re-create some things in us as we rest in him.

We do this through:

  1. Sleep
  2. Play
  3. Hobbies
  4. Prayer – letting it go!
  5. Vacation

III. Embracing: include or contain (something) as a constituent part

“The important point in all our imitation (of God) is its deliberate intentionality. We don’t just think God’s values are good.  We embrace them wholly…To embrace is to accept with gusto, to live to the hilt, to choose with extra intentionality and tenacity.” Marva Dawn

Your spiritual self-care must be deliberate and intentional, or it will not last.  Know that it will be challenged, constantly.

Embracing invites us to take the truths of our faith and apply them practically in our values and lifestyles, and requires us to:

  1. Be consistent with spiritual growth and development
  2. Establish necessary disciplines to carry out the required tasks
  3. Practice devotional Bible study
  4. Fasting
  5. Pilgrimage

IV. Feasting: A celebration of true love initiated by God

Feasting includes:

  1. Partaking in a large meal, typically one in celebration of something
  2. Using music, beauty, food, and affection
  3. Allowing our bodies, minds, souls and spirits to celebrate together with others knowing that God is in our midst. We should be like children feasting with God often.

A spiritual discipline is, when practiced faithfully and regularly, a habit or regular pattern in your life that repeatedly brings you back to God and opens you up to what God is saying to you.

Spiritual self-care is a must!