My mask was failing.
I had worked so hard to keep people out, to keep them from seeing the real me, that I hadn’t invested the energy in allowing God to clean up the stuff I was trying to hide.
My mask was protecting me from other people’s judgment, but it was also preventing God’s healing and cleansing from taking full effect. I was struggling with some sin issues. Instead of allowing God to help me, I was fighting very difficult battles on my own.
As my mask began to show cracks, I became ashamed and desperate.
My sins weren’t newsworthy. Many may have rolled their eyes at what I considered to be major issues in my life. However, to me, they were horrific and shameful. There were areas not pleasing to God. I knew it, and I wanted to change.
But I didn’t know how. I was paralyzed. I had tried to pep talk my way into better performance. I had verbally beaten myself up. I confessed and I cried, but things weren’t improving—until I adopted two spiritual disciplines that changed my life.
If you are struggling with a routine, boring, unsatisfying or defeated faith, these two disciplines can impact you as well.
1. I began to read the Bible every day. Actually, I began to read the Bible twice a day. Determined to find out if God’s Word would change my heart and my life, I began to read two chapters out of the Old Testament every day before I would start my day and two chapters out of the New Testament before I would head to bed.
There were times when particular Scriptures encouraged, inspired or challenged me. Other times, just the practice of investing His Word into my heart began to transform me in ways I couldn’t feel but eventually could see. My faith grew stronger. My sin-life began to lose its grip. My thought life became more pleasing to the Lord.
His Word changed me and transformed me. It began to shape me, mold me and sculpt me. As I prioritized and fell in love with His Word, my life became more balanced and more God-honoring.
2. I began to pray internal prayers. In Psalm 139:23-24, King David prayed, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting,” and I figured if it was good enough for the man after God’s heart, it was good enough for me.
Instead of praying about what I wanted, I began to pray about what I wanted to become. I asked God to transform me, to make me like Him and to give me resolve and strength to be the man that He wanted me to be.
God began to reveal His will in me and to me. I asked Him to open my eyes so I could see what He saw, to open my heart to care about what He cared about, and to change my desires into His.
And it worked. I realized I was becoming less like the me I was (bored, apathetic, selfish and unengaged with the world) and more like the me He wanted me to be (passionate, caring, courageous, and "Your kingdom come").
To some, these two disciplines sound too simple. Truthfully, I didn't realize the impact they would have on my life over the last 25-plus years, but they changed me.
I became less in love with my image and more in love with Jesus.
If you want to be a God-honoring, kingdom-advancing, authentic follower of Jesus who is not perfect but growing in your faith and being transformed daily, these are two disciplines that you need to adopt. When you read the Bible every day (twice a day if you are really crazy) and pray internal prayers, you give God permission to change you from the inside out.
Sean Dunn is a speaker, an author and the founder of Groundwire, an organization that exists to broadcast hope to anyone who may be struggling or in crisis. Operating 24 hours a day, hundreds of volunteers man Groundwire's chat platform, which is available to anyone at any time who may need help, encouragement or affirmation. Sean and his four children live outside of Denver, Colo. Follow Groundwire on Twitter.