God on a Checklist

One day in college I woke up, opened an app, and created a checklist for my spiritual life. I added some spiritual disciplines to the list like praying, reading my Bible, and reading other books. Maybe all of this would make me a better Christian, I thought to myself.

Later that night, a man who was very practiced at listening to the Holy Spirit prayed over me: “God, would you not be a check on a list of things to do.”

I went back to my dorm and deleted the checklist.

It’s not that spiritual disciplines and habits are bad or anything—quite the contrary. But Jesus taught us that God is a Father, which frames him primarily in the context of relationship. Without relationship, spiritual disciplines often go on to cultivate religiosity in us, which can be detrimental to our spiritual health. Indeed, there have been times where reading my Bible has made my spiritual life worse instead of better. I remember asking the Holy Spirit about how that happened and I sensed him say, ”You read my word without me.”

So today, may you experience the love and intimacy of the Father who calls you to him. May your spiritual life be developed out of the deep relationship available to you there.

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