There’s an old hymn that goes something like this:
At the cross, at the cross
Where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away;
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!1
Giving your life to Christ is exciting. My pastor always says that surrendering to Jesus is the best decision a person can make. I completely agree. I can’t imagine my life without Christ, and I am convinced there is no going back once you have started this incredible journey. However, although giving your life to Christ is a joyous and life-changing moment, the journey from “first receiving [your] sight” to becoming strong and grounded in your faith can be long and challenging at times.
While this faith journey is challenging, it is also rewarding and very much possible through the help of the Holy Spirit, the precious gift God gave you when you first surrendered your life to Jesus. Before I share some practical steps for growing in your faith, I want to offer a word of encouragement:
Take a deep breath in. Exhale. Let any overwhelming feelings roll off your shoulders, because you are on the right track. The fact that you are here indicates to me that you are already beginning to grow in your faith. Interestingly enough, true growth actually creates tension and a desire for more growth. Truthfully, the longer we’ve been on this Christian journey, the deeper we yearn to grow in our faith and become more like our Savior. So don’t feel like you are behind. You are exactly where God needs you to be and by the help of the Holy Spirit, God will take you deeper in faith.
The Church is like an ecosystem. It’s a large community of believers all around the world who are intimately connected with one other and with Christ. We feed off each other and supply each other with the spiritual nutrients we need to survive. While online blogs, YouTube videos, and Instagram posts can be helpful for cultivating your faith, having one-on-one encounters with local believers is essential for your walk with Christ.
When we are cut off from other believers, it becomes much more difficult to grow. In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul describes the Church as a body. He refers to the Church as one entity, to “grow up in every way into [Christ] who is the head” (Ephesians 4:15). He also mentions how the entire body is connected through joints that work together to help the body grow in love.
My point is, when you get connected to a Christian community, those individuals can help you learn the things you need to know about your faith. They can comfort you when you need encouragement, they can give helpful instruction and advice, and they can gently correct you when you go astray. Think of the Church as a family, because that’s exactly what it is. The best families nurture and support each other. Likewise, the Church will nurture and support you, and equip you to do the same for others.
If you don’t already have a local church, Google may be your friend. Be sure to search for churches that prioritize God’s Word and hold to the major doctrines of Christianity.2 Once you have found a church, get connected by joining a Bible study or small group. You may also want to try volunteering. Be sure to connect with other Christians outside of church, as well. It’s good to have Christian friends who can encourage you in your faith journey.
Don’t worry if this takes some time. God will guide you and help you as you make these brand new decisions.
Next, you can grow in your faith by prioritizing Scripture reading and prayer. While it is important to be connected to community, there is also an individual aspect of faith. The Bible is God’s Word to us. In the pages of Scripture, God reveals who he is and how he wants us to live in light of who he is. Reading the Bible might seem overwhelming; I get that. It is an ancient book after all! But the more you spend time learning to read Scripture, the easier it becomes.
If this will be your first time carefully reading Scripture, I encourage you to begin with the four gospels in the New Testament. These are accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry and they have much to teach us about God’s plan of redemption for the world through Jesus Christ. Carefully read and study the teachings of Jesus and notice how he lived while on earth. As you read through these passages, take time to stop and pray. Ask God to help you emulate the compassion and love Jesus had for each person he came into contact with. When you feel ready, continue in the rest of the New Testament. Then head to the Old Testament, read through Genesis and Psalms, and continue from there. Remember to go at your own pace. You may read through the New Testament in six months or it might take you a year. You may want to read quickly through once and then spend more time reading through slowly.
If you are fairly new to the faith, you may also want to use resources like commentaries, study Bibles, concordances, and Bible dictionaries as you read. Some of the concepts in Scripture do take a little time and research to understand. Use these tools to guide you when you feel stumped or confused. Blue Letter Bible is a very helpful online resource.
Remember: you have the Holy Spirit and your brand new Christian community to help you as you read the Bible. Pray about anything you may not understand in Scripture and reach out to your pastor(s) and mentors with questions as they arise. The Christians in your life will be happy to help you grow in your understanding of the Bible!
The Bible is God’s Word to us, but prayer is our words to God. A relationship with God is a two-way street. God speaks to us, but he also wants us to speak to him. Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated. Remember you are talking to your Heavenly Father who loves you. It doesn’t have to be perfect; just speak to him honestly. My favorite model for prayer comes from Jesus himself:
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
Jesus invites us to address God as our Father. God is our Father in heaven who loves us. Next, the prayer reminds us that God’s name should be hallowed, or honored as holy. This is where we can worship God and adore him for who he is. Verse 10 invites God to let his perfect will be done. We should pray that God fulfills his plans in our lives. After this, we humbly ask God for the things we need. Then, we ask for forgiveness and practice confessing our sins. Finally, we ask for God’s help when dealing with temptation.
To put it a bit more simply, start off by praising and worshipping God, pray about your needs and the needs of others, confess your sins and finally, ask for God’s help with temptation. I also like to end my prayer by praising God some more.
Making Bible reading and prayer a priority will help you grow in your faith. Remember to stay present as you spend time with God. Whether you have twenty minutes or an hour per day, give God your full attention.
Finally, it’s not enough to be in community with others and pray and read our Bibles if we don’t do what God commands.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”
We grow in our faith by taking the teachings of God and applying them to our lives. Allow God’s Word to transform you. As you read Scripture carefully, you may start to feel conviction. Conviction is simply the Holy Spirit highlighting an area of your life that needs to change. When you feel convicted, simply pray and ask God for help and then make an effort to do what Scripture says.
James tells us that when we only hear (or read) God’s Word and don’t practice what we hear, we deceive ourselves. It’s like looking at yourself in the mirror and then forgetting what you look like the moment you walk away. We don’t want that for our Christian journey. We don’t want to look at God through his Word and behold him for a moment and then instantly forget what we saw.
Now, we’re not going to “do” Scripture perfectly. If we did, this wouldn’t be a journey. We will make mistakes and get things wrong, but God is there to help us. We also have our community and Scripture to help us, as well.
The Christian life is not easy, but it is rewarding. It doesn’t have to feel impossible. Rest assured, you are growing. Remember, you don’t have to grow at the pace others are growing. We all grow at different rates, and that’s okay. However, we are all headed towards the same goal. God began this journey with you and he plans to walk with you until it is complete.
Spend the next twenty-four days reading a chapter of the book of Luke per day. Pay close attention to the details of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection. Use a notebook to summarize each chapter and record questions and insights as you go. If you don’t already have one, purchase a good study Bible and commentary to get started.
After each Bible reading, pray according to the method I shared earlier. Pray openly and honestly from your heart. It’s okay if your prayer doesn’t align perfectly; just use it as a guideline.
Finally, visit some local churches over the next few Sundays. Once you find a church you like, get connected and join smaller communities within the church.
God is with you, I’m cheering you on, and the Hosanna Revival community supports you!
1 Isaac Watts and Ralph E. Hudson,“Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed,” 1707, Public Domain.
2 Editor’s note: We recommend using a trusted site to help find a church, such as The Gospel Coalition church directory (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/churches/) or the Acts 29 “Find a Church” tool (https://www.acts29.com/find-a-church/).
Image credit: Emilee Carpenter