Most of my spiritual goals have fallen into these three areas.
Head: Understanding something better. There are often several topics on my heart that I feel drawn to learn more about. Two years ago, the topic was headcovering, and I made one of my goals that year to do an in-depth study of it, with the goal of obeying God in whatever he revealed to me. Other years, I have decided to spend time learning about prayer, or about the end times, or about discipleship. Maybe you want to learn about one specific book in the Bible, or to learn about how to share the gospel. Make a list of spiritual questions you have (use the five W's to get you started - who, what, when, where, why, and how) to see what is on your heart.
Hands: Developing better habits. Usually when we think of spiritual habits, we think of prayer and Bible reading, but those are just some of the disciplines we are called to nurture as believers. One of my favorite books, Celebration of Discipline, lists twelve spiritual disciplines that the Bible teaches us to develop:
- Inward disciplines: meditation, prayer, fasting, and study
- Outward disciplines: simplicity, solitude, submission, service
- Corporate disciplines: confession, worship, guidance, and celebration
Heart: Growing my relationship with the Lord. It is possible to have deep understanding of the Bible and perfect spiritual disciplines and to miss the whole point. This is a heart issue, and so it may be harder to make that "SMART" goal with, but we should not neglect it either. How do we judge our other close relationships? Often by the time we spend together, the depth of our ability to communicate, the level of trust we have. Practically speaking, these may look like developing habits of prayer or our understanding of God's character, but using our desire for a closer walk with God to inform our other goals will keep them from being all head and hands, but no heart.
Your Bible. This should be obvious, but it is easy to neglect the Bible and replace it with books, blogs, and apps. Make sure you have a Bible version that is accurate and understandable, with a comfortable font. I strongly suggest having a larger one with room to underline verses and even write notes in the margins, as well as a smaller one that fits in your purse or bag. Even if you have your Bible on your phone, you want to have a hard copy, too.
Apps. My two favorite apps are the YouVersion Bible, which includes dozens of different translations, as well as reading plans and "verse of the day" reminders, and PrayerMate, which I can personalize to include different topics and people. Now when I tell someone, "I'll be praying for you," I actually add it to my PrayerMate app so I won't forget to do so!
Bible reading guide. If you google this, you will find dozens of ways to read through the Bible. Some are organized chronologically, some to get the whole Bible done in a year, some to give you a little bit of the Old Testament and the New Testament every day. My favorite, though, is this one that I made, which just lists every chapter in every book in the Bible. Whenever you read, you color in the boxes for the chapters that you read. Want to read something again? Go ahead, that is not a problem, but this will help you keep track of what you have not yet read, to challenge you to explore and mine sections of God's Word that are less familiar to you. (If you are already a subscriber, you can find it on my freebies page and download it from there!)
Scripture cards. We have different Scripture reminders around our home. Some are framed prints and others are much simpler. I found these "Psalms in Color" coloring cards recently and often include them in gifts or cards to friends as an encouragement. I find them easier to sit and color than a whole page because they are smaller! Another daily reminder to me is whichever Scripture card I have on top of my Hope Deck, a deck of beautifully illustrated Scripture cards that comes with a wooden stand.
Books. There are too many books for spiritual growth to give even a conservative list of recommendations. Devotionals are a wonderful way to make sure you are taking time to connect with God every day. The classic My Utmost for His Highest is one you can't go wrong with, and I also like Fixing My Eyes on Jesus by Anne Graham Lotz. Along with Celebration of Discipline, two of my favorite books about prayer from my college days were The Hour that Changes the World by Dick Eastman and With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray.
Music. Music helps transport me from this side of Heaven to the throne of Heaven. Keep some handy all the time, whether CDs, or a playlist on your phone, or a radio station that will help focus your mind on God.
An accountability group. Find a group that you can meet with regularly for prayer, Bible study, and general encouragement. It may be for a limited time, like for the next eight weeks, or for a longer commitment, but having others walk with us as we grow spiritually will keep us on track.
If the morning works, great. Do that. If your best time to focus on God is going to be at night, after the kids are in bed, do that. If you know you will have thirty minutes in the car pick-up line at school waiting for the kids to come out, use that time. If you are taking your mom to a doctor's appointment, use the time in the waiting room to work on your spiritual goals. Be honest with yourself, and don't pick a time that will end up leaving you feeling defeated. And if one time doesn't work, choose another. Don't give up because this is too important.