September 14, 2012 by FHElessons
Here are some ideas on how to draw closer to God and increase your access to His Spirit.
Last week we talked about nutrition and how to keep our bodies healthy and properly nourish them. Our physical bodies require certain nutrients to sustain life and health. What will happen if we don’t get these nutrients?
- reduced mental functions
- digestive disorders
- loss of strength
- impairment of vision
Our spirits also require nourishment. What will happen if we don’t get it?
Spiritual Malnutrition =
- reduced spiritual strength
- reduced spiritual vision
- reduced ability to hear and feel the Spirit
- reduced happiness
Obviously, we don’t want that! Let’s talk about some ways to maintain our spiritual health:
1. Evaluate your current spirituality. This is not just a one-time evaluation. It should be done periodically and even frequently.
Below is a list that I received when I was in Young Women’s (almost 30 years ago). I have kept this list all that time because I have found it to be a useful tool in my life. Checking your current state against this list can help you know if you’re spiritually healthy or if your spiritual health could use some work. It was originally published in the August 1978 Ensign by Don Norton.
This list is actually better read when presented in two side by side columns. Here is a PDF of it that you can print. I suggest printing it out and tucking it into your scriptures, church bag, or journal so you can look at it when you have some time for contemplation.
When You Have the Spirit:
- You feel happy and calm.
- You feel full of light.
- Your mind is clear.
- Your bosom burns with love for the Lord and for others.
- You feel generous.
- No one can offend you.
- You are very forgiving and kind.
- You feel confident in what you do.
- You don’t mind anyone seeing what you are doing.
- You feel outgoing and anxious to be with others (especially family members).
- You are glad when others succeed.
- You want to make others happy, even those opposed to you.
- You bring out the best and say the best about others.
- You gladly and willingly perform Church work.
- You feel like praying and reading the scriptures.
- You wish you could keep all the Lord’s commandments.
- You feel you have control of your appetites and emotions; food and sleep in moderation, sexual restraint, recreation that is wholesome and moderate, controlled speech, and no anger.
- You feel a deep desire to help others – usually in a way no one else will know about.
- You speak and think only good about others.
- You feel sorrow when others have problems and sincerely desire to help them.
- You realize that your thoughts and your actions are open to God.
When You Do Not Have the Spirit OR When Satan is Prompting You:
- You feel unhappy, depressed, confused, and frustrated.
- You feel heavy and full of darkness.
- Your mind is muddled.
- You feel empty, hollow, and cold inside.
- You feel selfish, possessive, and self-centered.
- Everything anyone does bothers you.
- You are always on the defensive.
- You are easily discouraged.
- You become secretive and evasive.
- You want to be alone, and you avoid others (especially family members).
- You are envious of what others do and of what they have.
- You want to get even and show others up.
- You are critical of others, especially family members and those in authority.
- You feel hesitant, unworthy, and unwilling to perform Church ordinances.
- You don’t want to pray or read the scriptures.
- You find the commandments of God and rules of the family bothersome, restricting, or senseless.
- You become a slave to your appetites; your emotions become passionate; overindulgence in food, sleep, sex, stimulating entertainment, loud music, strong anger, and outspokenness all become part of your character.
- You want to make sure all the help you give others is duly noted by them and the world.
- You look for and find evil in others and broadcast it.
- You question others’ motives and secretly delight in their problems; then you say, “I’m glad I’m not that way.”
- You feel that what you do and think is only your business and no one else knows or cares.
“And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?…And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:14,26).
It’s not enough to feel spiritually nourished one time in our lives. We must constantly ask ourselves, “Can I feel so now?”
2. Seek spirit-nourishing behaviors. What kinds of things can we do to provide nourishment for our spirits?
Here’s a quote I like from Dallin H. Oaks given in the October 1985 General Conference: “How do we achieve spirituality? How do we attain that degree of holiness where we can have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost? How do we come to view and evaluate the things of this world with the perspective of eternity? We seek spirituality through faith, repentance, and baptism; through forgiveness of one another; through fasting and prayer; through righteous desires and pure thoughts and actions. We seek spirituality through service to our fellowmen; through worship; through feasting on the word of God, in the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets. We attain spirituality through making and keeping covenants, through conscientiously trying to keep all the commandments of God. Spirituality is not acquired suddenly. It is the consequence of a succession of right choices. It is the harvest of a righteous life.”
What ideas does Elder Oaks list?
- Forgiving others
- Righteous desires
- Pure thoughts
- Pure actions
- Serving others
- Worship (attending church services and singing hymns)
- Feasting on the Word (scripture study and listening to prophets)
- Making and keeping covenants (partaking of the Sacrament worthily and attending the temple)
- Consciously trying to keep the commandments
I think that list is pretty comprehensive. The only things I can think of to add to it are
- Journal writing (which can help you focus your thoughts, relax, and be more receptive to the Spirit)
- Bearing your testimony
- Seeking missionary experiences
- Praying for the gift of charity (the ability to love others the way Jesus loves them)
3. Nourish Your Spirit on a Regular Basis. Just as our bodies need nourishment on a regular basis, so do our spirits. Thinking about this reminds me of a Mormonad that I saw when I was young:
Here is the link to where you can find it on lds.org.
David A. Bednar also likens this concept to our need for water:
“It frankly does not make sense to occasionally ‘fill up’ with water, with long periods of dehydration in between. The same thing is true spiritually. Spiritual thirst is a need for living water. A constant flow of living water is far superior to sporadic sipping.”
Which of the things on the above list of spirit-nourishing behaviors must be done daily?
- Scripture Study
- Keep the commandments
- Serve others
- Exercise faith
Which must be done weekly?
4. Make a plan to incorporate spiritual nourishment into your schedule. It’s always nice to have good intentions, but it’s rare to see improvement without written goals. Studies have shown that actually writing down your goals will help you achieve them. I think discussing them with Heavenly Father and asking for His help would be beneficial as well.
Here are some ideas for goals you can set to increase your spirituality (If you’re teaching this lesson instead of just reading it, have your family brainstorm a list of things to do):
- Pray for 30 minutes per day for 30 days
- Pray immediately upon waking and before going to sleep.
- Resolve to “pray always.” Continually speak with the Lord about your thoughts and concerns throughout the day.
- Study your scriptures for a certain amount of time at a set time of day.
- Purchase a book to aid in your scripture study.
- Sign up for a scripture study class.
- Ask Heavenly Father every morning to direct you to someone you can serve that day.
- Make fasting more meaningful by fasting with a purpose.
- Set a goal to fast the full 24 hours each time.
- Set a goal to bear your testimony every month in Fast and Testimony meeting.
- Set a goal to attend the temple once a month or once a week.
- Set a goal to make partaking of the Sacrament more meaningful by taking some time before church each week to repent of any small misdeeds or uncharitable thoughts.
- Keep scriptures or copies of General Conference talks in your car, diaper bag, or other convenient place so you can study a little during wait times.
- Begin a habit of using driving time to pray.
- Listen to the scriptures or General Conference talks in audio format while driving in the car or walking to class.
- Set a goal to write at least a little bit in your journal every night.
- Check at the end of each day, asking yourself, “Have I done any good in the world today?” Make sure you have served someone every day.
- Gather some CD’s of inspiring music or a playlist of worshipful songs to listen to as you do housework, walk to class, drive in the car, etc.
- Practice using empty space in the day such as driving in the car, walking to class, or waiting for an appointment to nourish your spirit.
I’m sure you can think of more ideas that will work with your own life and your own schedule. The important thing is to make a plan and write it down. Then begin today!
5. Avoid poisons! When nourishing our physical bodies, we may eat all the right foods and take all the right vitamins and nutrients, but if we happen to ingest a poison, what will happen?
- It will interfere with the absorption of our nutrients.
- It will make us sick.
- It could even kill us.
The same is true spiritually. What kinds of things are poisonous to our spirits?
- Sexual immorality
- Substances prohibited by the Word of Wisdom (will harm both our bodies and our spirits)
When thinking about any of the above spiritual poisons, imagine them with a big “poison” symbol smacked right on top:
Stay away from them just like you would stay away from a bottle of cyanide or a box of rat poison! Don’t let anything poison your spirit.
Blessings: As with all good deeds in life, if we strive to increase our spirituality, the Lord will bless us. What blessings for increased spirituality do you see in the following scriptures?
Alma 26:22 – Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.
Romans 8:6 – For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.
1 Nephi 17:35 – He that is righteous is favored of God.
1 Nephi 7:12-13 – Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.And if it so be that we are faithful to him, we shall obtain the land of promise.
I testify to you that you can enjoy the blessings of increased spirituality in your life. By making a conscious effort to evaluate your own spirituality and by seeking to improve it daily, you will feel the comfort of the increased companionship of the Holy Ghost and the power of greater access to the Lord’s spirit and His direction in your life. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.