The beauty of this prayer is alignment. It’s realigning our hearts with God’s will, which means, it’s a prayer God WILL hear and answer...
Sometimes the most honest question we can ask is, Why should I care? It feels like a jerk of a question – like the kind of thing some sour adolescent says from the back row of class with his arms folded across his chest. We grownups are too sophisticated to act like middle school jerks, so it’s not a question we typically pose out loud. But the truth is, from time to time, it’s the real question – the one we’re already asking deep in our hearts:
Yes, God has a kingdom mission.
Yes, I have a next step toward Christ.
But honestly? Why should I care?
Signs of Spiritual Exhaustion
If you love Jesus, yet feel apathetic, withdrawn, or shut down, there’s a good chance you’re spiritually exhausted. In my own life, spiritual exhaustion often shows up in the form of upside-down values. Little things become big (“You FAILED an algebra test?!!”), and big things become little (“Five minutes with God should be enough this week.”) I find myself with a “Why should I care?” attitude about everything I should actually care about, and obsessive concern over things that don’t really matter.
If that’s you right now, the first thing to know is that spiritual exhaustion is real and normal. Just as marathon runners exhaust their bodies over the course of a race, it’s normal for Christians to grow weary and depleted. If it wasn’t common, the Bible wouldn’t constantly exhort us to stay the course and finish the race (Galatians 6:9, Philippians 3:14, 2 Timothy 4:7).
I don’t think the goal is to avoid exhaustion. That’s like telling a runner, “Don’t get thirsty while you run this marathon! The goal is to feel fresh and perky the whole way through!”
If you live like the primary goal of Christianity is to always feel refreshed and positive, you’ll be discouraged by noon. The goal of a race isn’t to feel good. It’s to finish – to keep running when you’re exhausted, thirsty, and desperate to quit.
Similarly, I think our goal in running a spiritual race is to recognize exhaustion and address it, so we can keep running. Recognize your thirst, quench it, and keep going.
What Causes Spiritual Exhaustion?
There are many reasons we become spiritually depleted. Here are a few of them:
- We try to live by the law instead of grace (Romans 6:14).
- We ignore our emotions (Psalm 62:8).
- We ignore our sin (Psalm 32:1-3).
- We fail to rest (Matthew 11:28-30).
- We don’t set healthy boundaries (Proverbs 4:23).
- We feel hurt by others or by God (Matthew 11:2-3).
When I find myself spiritually worn out, the first thing I do is identify what’s causing my exhaustion. I think through the list above, and get honest with God – honest about my anger, the ways I’ve stored up hurt, my disappointment, my sin … all the pain points.
If you want to keep the running analogy going, these are like the sore spots – the weak knee, the achy ankle. If you run through the pain, the injury gets worse. But if you stop and address what’s going on (break out the ice packs, elevate the injuries), you begin to heal.
I think Jesus actually delights in this process. I feel so ashamed when I get to this point, and often that’s why it takes me so long to admit this is where I am – broken and sidelined. But every time I’ve slowed down long enough to cry out to Jesus for help, He has met me with love. Not once have I felt judged or condemned; only seen, forgiven, and embraced.
One Simple Prayer for the Spiritually Weary
When I don’t care about God’s Kingdom, when I’m all tangled up and tired, this is what I tell Jesus: I’m not doing the right thing. I don’t even want the right thing. BUT, I want to want the right thing.
Sometimes the most I can offer Jesus is my willingness to be changed: “Jesus, I want to want what’s right. Please help me.”
I want to love Your people.
I want to care about Your mission.
I want to live for a story larger than myself.
I want to honor You.
I want to be healed and whole.
The beauty of this prayer is alignment. It’s realigning our hearts with God’s will, which means, it’s a prayer God WILL hear and answer:
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him” (I John 5:14-15).
Take heart; it’s as good as done.