You already know that there are many facets of missionary preparation. The most basic qualification for the missionary is knowing God. This is not the same as knowing about God or even doing the work you believe God sent you to do. Knowing God involves an intimate personal relationship with the living God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
The most important thing you can do to prepare for your service is to take the time to seriously think about this relationship. For your own sake and for the sake of your mission, please prayerfully and thoughtfully consider your current walk with God and what you can do to strengthen it.
In the pursuit of the spiritual life, we face a number of struggles which fight against our relationship with God.
- Busyness, duties, work, school, and the stress of modern life tend to squeeze out the spiritual.
- The whole lifestyle and educational systems of the contemporary world—too often including Christians and Christian education—have emphasized the material and scientific rather than the spiritual.
- Many of us have a religion which emphasizes facts, doctrines, and abstract philosophical truth rather than the practice of God’s presence and practical issues of relationships.
- Many expect mission service to be a benefit to their spiritual life. In some cases, it can be, but in others it can put enormous stress on spirituality.
- Many of us will find that those we go to serve have or appear to have a deeper experience of God than we do. That can be depressing!
Principles to Strengthen the Spiritual Life
What can be done in the face of all this? Certain basic principles exist which, if followed, can begin to renew our spiritual life.
Make the spiritual life a priority
What is most important in your life? What do you do first? Is your spiritual life in that category? If not, why not?
Make a specific time commitment.
Time is the basic stuff of life. What is really a priority for us, we make time for. Scheduling to make time for the spiritual life is an act of obedience and commitment. What specific time of day will you commit to God? Choose a time that fits your temperament. Make sure you give God a time when you are awake!
Live and act as if the spiritual realm is real.
Many fail to pray for themselves or others because they are afraid their faith is weak. Others don’t share their faith because they are not too sure about their own relationship with God. Faith comes through exercise. The way to grow and build faith is to simply act as if God will do things. Pray for that person who asks for it. Give God a chance to show what He can do.
Be honest about your life and spiritual condition.
Hiding who you are and your relationship with God never works. You can deceive others and maybe yourself for awhile, but you can never deceive God, and eventually you and others catch on. God has abundant forgiveness and others understand. We can grow if we are honest.
Be willing to risk and experiment.
We’re not talking about doing something non-Christian! Some people allow their devotional and religious life to become routine. They never pray, study, or worship in new ways. There are hundreds of appropriate ways to communicate with God, but we often get stuck on a few of them.
Share your spiritual life with others.
Many of us are too private and individualistic in our spiritual life. Christian fellowship is important to spiritual health. We benefit if we share our joys and sorrows, our triumphs and defeats, our hopes and dreams with our Christian friends.
What about you?
Look at yourself and analyze your spiritual life.
How much time do you spend in devotional time, e.g., prayer, meditation, Bible study, devotional reading, journaling, etc.? Is the time you spend adequate or inadequate? Why? What would you like to see happen in this area of your life?