Have you ever showed up for a prayer meeting not really wanting to pray? Have you ever avoided a prayer meeting because the thought of praying with others was somehow unappealing? There are various reasons why we sometimes lose our appetite for prayer. One of the most common is that we’re already full—on the wrong things. It’s not all that different from when our kids show up for dinner, only to pick at their food because they’ve been filling up on candy bars and Cokes!
We can ruin our spiritual appetites by filling up on things that feed our flesh without nourishing our spirit. Then, when it’s “dinner time”—time to partake of a rich experience of corporate prayer and worship—we can find ourselves emotionally and spiritually disconnected, unable to hear clearly and personally from the Holy Spirit, and settling for religious activity instead of intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. In short, we have no real appetite for the things of God.
When God wants to reveal Himself to His people on a corporate level, He often asks them to examine themselves individually. “Consecrate yourselves,” Joshua told the Israelites, “for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Josh. 3:5). When we humble ourselves individually, repenting of the things that dull our hunger for God, we cultivate a spiritual appetite and an atmosphere in which the Lord can do amazing things among us.
Below is an inventory that can help identify the things that may be dulling your spiritual appetite. Go through it prayerfully, asking the Lord to show you what things may be empty spiritual calories that diminish your hunger for Him.
External distractions are the things that clamor for our time, energy, and attention. They create a false sense of comfort or satisfaction that leaves us dull toward the things of God.
___ Do I fill my mind with images and thoughts that are not honoring to God: TV, movies, music, books and magazines, the internet, video games, etc.?
___ Is there anything that interferes with my surrender and service to God, such as inappropriate dependence on family or other relationships? Excessive recreation or children’s activities? Desires for recognition, success, or money? Other personal ambitions?
___ Do I seek comfort from food, alcohol, mood-enhancing drugs, shopping, sensuality, or other means instead of allowing God’s Spirit to comfort and satisfy me?
___ Do I busy myself with church activities and volunteer commitments in order to feel significant, instead of finding my identity in Christ alone?
___ Is my schedule so dominated by my own agenda and activities that I have little time for reading and meditating on God’s Word, spending time with Him in prayer, or joining in corporate worship and fellowship at church?
Internal offenses are heart attitudes that quench the Holy Spirit, rendering us insensitive to His voice and presence. They can be offenses that we have nurtured toward others or internal grievances that we have committed against God.
___ Are my feelings easily hurt? Are there misunderstandings or offenses that I am unwilling to forget? Am I prone to resentment, bitterness, victimization, or self-pity?
___ Do I find it difficult to yield to others, be held accountable for my actions or attitudes, or be corrected?
___ Am I slow to recognize when I am wrong and reticent to apologize and seek forgiveness?
___ Am I hurt if no one notices, applauds, or recognizes me for what I do?
___ Am I complaining, critical, irritable, impatient, or harsh with others—with my tongue or in my thoughts?
___ Do I tolerate sexual impurity in my mind, conversations, or actions?
If the Holy Spirit highlights anything, respond with confession, repentance, and immediate obedience. Then, consider sharing this exercise with others in your family, prayer group, or church as a way to increase spiritual hunger and set the table for God to do amazing things among you.
–by Arlyn Lawrence
Used by permission of Pray! Copyright © May/June 2006, The Navigators. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved.