According to the Library of Congress, the heart is “the hardest working muscle…it pumps out over 2 ounces (71 grams) of blood at every heartbeat. Daily the heart pumps at least 2,500 gallons (9,450 liters) of blood” (Library of Congress, 2017). It is safe to say that the heart has to be in constant use for us to continue to live healthy lives. Our hearts are not able to take breaks, they have to be in continuous action all day, every day. The heart does not get to take a break when it feels it has worked long enough. It does not get to put in a vacation request or take time off for the holidays. Even when the heart is sick, it is still forced to work. And though we don’t necessarily do anything manually to make the heart work, we must exercise and have a healthy diet in order to get the best and longest use out of our hearts.
Faith is like the heart of the spirit. When used properly, it is the hardest working muscle of the spirit. Believers should constantly use faith in their day-to-day lives. Like the heart, faith needs to be active to do it’s job. James 2:17 (NIV) states “…Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” With that being said, we must participate in spiritual exercise and feed our spirit with the Word of God throughout the day to develop our faith. You have to use your faith regularly because as muscles can lose definition when you stop exercising, faith can decrease when you stop your spiritual exercises. Do not give your faith a break! The enemy is constantly looking for a way to impart doubt into your heart and mind. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV) says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings”. Satan does not take breaks so neither can we. The only way to stand firm in our faith is to exercise our faith and grow this spiritual muscle. I’m going to give you four spiritual exercises that you should do every day (multiple times a day) to grow your faith muscle.
Four Spiritual Exercises to Develop Your Faith
Pray: Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV) to “pray continually”. Prayer is every believers first line of defense because it can be done anywhere, any time, without having to stop what you are doing at the moment. When we pray continually, it shows God that we realize that we need Him for His guidance and that we are not trying to operate independently, but we depend on Him in every situation. Prayer should be used when we are faced with worry, fear, or doubt. We should pray when we are dealing with difficult people or difficult issues. Prayer should be used when we are engaging in spiritual battles. Pray for more faith! Ask God daily to increase your faith. Jesus said in Mark 11:24 (NIV), “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”. If you ask God to increase your faith and you believe that He will, it is already done.
Study: I use the word study instead of read because study means “to apply oneself to acquiring a knowledge; to endeavor to learn or memorize; and to read carefully or intently” (dictionary.com). So, do not just read the Bible, take your time and take notes, do some background research about the text, and commit impactful scriptures to memory. Studying the Word of God is one of the best ways to grow your faith because the more you know about God, His goodness, and His Will, the easier it will be for you to learn to put your trust in Him. Don’t stop at reading, many churches have sermons online now, there are virtual Bible studies, you can even simply search for a topic in Youtube that will bring up awesome teachings. Soak up the Word however you can!
Believe: From all of the prayer and studying you are doing, you should have acquired a belief in the promises of God. If you haven’t, continue to pray for increased faith. Without unwavering belief, there is no faith. In Matthew 9, Jesus healed several people and even brought the dead back to life all because these people had no doubt that Jesus could heal them. There is a story there of two blind men who approached Jesus and asked Jesus to heal their blindness. Before Jesus performed the miracle, He asked “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28 NKJV). The blind men answered affirmatively; then Jesus touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be to you” (Matthew 9:29 NKJV). And the blind men were able to see instantly. The moral of the story is that the men were only healed because of their unwavering belief that Jesus had the power to allow them to see. When you learn to stop doubting, you will see that faith releases the power of Jesus in every area of your life.
Obey: Just as God is faithful to us by keeping His promises, we must be faithful to Him by following His perfect Will. Obedience is the action step of faith. James 1:22-25 (NIV) states
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
The phrases that I want to note are “Do what it says” and “not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it”. Obeying God is all about doing His Will. When you do His Will, He will bless you. And from witnessing the blessings taking place in your life, your faith will grow.
Get a good workout in today!