Fighting spiritual apathy is an important part of developing your faith. Acedia is a word that people don’t use much anymore. It’s a word that is rooted in Latin and Greek and literally means a lack of care. In religious terms, it is most associated with a lack of care or concern with spiritual things and became connected with the deadly sin of sloth in the 1600s. Christians in the early centuries would use the term to describe, laziness, apathy, and even boredom. Even in the early church, spiritual apathy was recognized as a problem.
Spiritual apathy is a dangerous thing in the life of a believer. It’s one thing to care and continue to struggle and contend for your faith when you are frustrated, doubting, or just beginning your faith journey. It is another thing entirely to be apathetic in your faith…to not care at all about spiritual things. Being apathetic is a very dangerous state of being. I wanted to offer some tips to help fight apathy if you sense that you are heading down that path.
Prayer is always a great place to start with any problem. If you are headed down the road toward spiritual apathy, you need a heart and head change. A change is needed in how you feel and how you think. You can’t make those changes on your own. You need God to reshape your heart and mind. That comes through prayer. If you are struggling with apathy, you will probably struggle to pray. But, prayer is a key component in overcoming it. If you are struggling to pray, start by asking God to help you to pray. Praying is a key tool that God uses to help shape us to be more like Jesus. Jesus was as far from apathetic as a person could be. Pray that God will make you more like Jesus.
Unconfessed sin can harden our hearts and move us toward apathy. If you are struggling with spiritual apathy, there may be unconfessed sin in your life. Spend time asking God to show you if there is anything in your life that is offensive to Him and if so, confess it and repent. Repentance is a change of heart and mind. As a result, there is a change in attitude and behavior. It isn’t enough to say, “I’m sorry”. You need to turn away from that sin as well. In Psalm 51, David confesses his sins and asks God to “renew a right spirit in him” and “to restore the joy of salvation”. We should follow David’s example. Confession and repentance are good for the apathetic soul and are therefore important components to fighting spiritual apathy.
Keep Moving Forward:
When you are apathetic, it can be difficult to do the things that put you in a place to enter into God’s presence. If you want to fight spiritual apathy, you have to keep doing the things that will put you in a place for God to work. Worship, communion, reading your Bible, serving, and giving are all things that the Holy Spirit can use to work in you and through you. Sometimes, we just have to make the decision to do what is right even if you don’t care a whole lot about what you are doing. To combat spiritual apathy, keep doing the things you know are right and allow God to work in us as we do them.
Invite Others On The Journey:
You can’t fight the battle of apathy on our own. We each need others to pray for us, encourage us, admonish us, to hold us accountable, and to love us. People are built to be part of a community. Folks tend to try to fix their problems on their own. That’s not how God designed people to work. It isn’t how the church is supposed to work. If you want to combat spiritual apathy, find somebody you trust and confide in them. Share your struggle and ask them to help. That is why, in part, the church exists. Ask them to pray with you and for you. Invite them to encourage you, challenge you, and to help keep you moving toward change. It can be scary, but if you want to overcome spiritual apathy, you will need others to help.
Try Something New:
Sometimes we need a change of scenery. So, it can be helpful to change up our routine from time to time. We can’t expect different results if do the same things over and over again. If you are fighting against spiritual apathy, you should take a little time and do something different. It can be as simple as reading a different devotional or finding a new place for your quiet time alone with God. It can be as big as taking a day or two and going on a retreat for some silence and solitude. Don’t be afraid to try something a little different to get you out of practicing old habits and into practicing some new habits.
If you would like to read more from Jeremy, check out his blog about Discipleship and Spiritual Formation. You can also read his book Questions For Reflection: A 30-Day Devotional Guide Toward A Deeper Faith.