Knowing your spiritual season through prayer can help you become more in step with what the Holy Spirit is doing during this period in your life and give you a sense of peace, purpose and direction.
What is a spiritual season?
A spiritual season is a specific time period in your life that has an overall feeling or purpose in the larger scheme of your ongoing spiritual life. They can be compared to the different types of seasons we might experience in life such as raising children, or a time of struggles with health issues or a time of educational preparation for your chosen career.
Using the analogy of seasons to talk about our spiritual lives helps us realize that the phase we’re in is part of a larger pattern that won’t last forever but will eventually give way to something new and different. It also helps us see that like seasons, our spiritual lives have rhythm, purpose and direction and can cycle back again and again with a chance for new growth and new harvests.
Usually people don’t think to pray about spiritual seasons until they’re in one that they don’t feel is productive or comfortable.
In my research I found various lists of spiritual seasons that writers have grouped together. The most common is the nature version where there is a season of new growth and rebirth (spring), a season of maturing (summer), a season of harvest and reaping (fall) and a season of rest (winter.)
Others cite spiritual seasons of other types, such as seasons of waiting, preparation, repentance, suffering, growth, productivity, joy, peace etc.
Spiritual seasons don’t necessarily correspond to a person’s age. As an example, someone who accepts Christ at age 55 might immediately experience a spiritual season of exponential growth that others in that age group who have been Christians since the teen years may not experience.
Here is a prayer strategy to know your spiritual seasons through prayer
Step one: ask God to show you the overall theme or purpose of this spiritual season in your life.
Take time to meditate about the overall direction of your life at this moment. Answer the following questions to help identify the type of spiritual season you might be in.
Suffering? Illness? Unable to move beyond simply making it day to day? You may be going through a season of suffering. Unfortunately, all of us go through such a season at some time in our lives.
Feeling dry in your devotional times and having a hard time feeling connected with God? Feeling depressed and low on hope or spiritual energy? You might be going through a season of dryness.
Doors not opening? Lack of progress? Trying but not getting where you hope to go? You might be going through a season of patience or waiting.
Seemingly unconnected things going on? Being put in situations where you have to learn new skills? A great desire to pray and study God’s word and seek his direction? Having a new vision of something you want to do? You may be going through a season of preparation.
Having a greater capacity to learn? New strength to change your old habits for better ones? Starting to feel more experienced and capable? Feeling closer to God and understanding the Bible in new ways? Making new discoveries and gaining new insight into old problems? You might be going through a season of growth.
Are doors suddenly opening? Are you able to accomplish tasks and quickly take on new ones? You might be going through a season of productivity.
Are you enjoying the fruit of your labor? Are you at a point where things aren’t as hectic as they once were? Have big projects come to competition and nothing new has taken their place? You might be going through a season of rest.
These are just a few examples of the types of spiritual season you might be experiencing.
Step 2: Ask God to free you of the mindset that all spiritual seasons should be alike.
Often we feel stuck in a spiritual season that we’d rather leave. You may even feel that God isn’t at work in your life. This comes from the modern cultural mindset that the only good seasons are seasons of growth and productivity. If you’re actually in a spiritual season of rest and you’re constantly trying to force yourself to be productive you can become burned out.
The Bible is clear that seasons are part of life and that each season has a purpose. It says in Ecclesiastes “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…a time to search and a time to give up…a time to be silent and a time to speak…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,4,6,7 NIV)
The fact is that no matter what spiritual season we are going through in life, God can use it to our good. The Bible says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8 :28, 29 NIV)
Step 3: Ask God to show you the things to do during your current spiritual season that will bear the most fruit.
Although some spiritual seasons seem better because they are growth or harvest seasons, there is always something to plant and something to do that will later bear fruit.
When I went through a 10 year spiritual season of waiting to get my first book published, I was often discouraged, emotionally upset by rejections and wondering if I should give up. Then a magazine I worked for sent me to do a story on a PE teacher at a private girl’s school who had been diagnosed with MS, which is an incurable disease that causes loss of mobility. The magazine was interested in her story because she had found ways of continuing to teach even though she could no longer run up and down a basketball court with her students. Instead she began honing her skills as a cheerleader and encourager and she became a role model for the girls for finding a life path even during times of adversity.
As I pondered her remarkable resilience, God showed me a surprising concept in the book of Jeremiah that the PE teacher exemplified. I called it “planting apple trees in Babylon.” The Jewish people had been carried away into captivity in Babylon. Their former homes had been destroyed, their Temple left in ruin. They were oppressed and felt far from God. They were exiles, hoping and pushing for the day when God would work a miracle and allow them to return to their homeland once again where they could resume life. They waited, year after awful year. False prophets told them to be ready to get up and leave because any minute God would rescue them. They were going through a painful spiritual season of waiting, and the sooner it ended, the better as far as they were concerned.
Then the prophet Jeremiah stepped forward and said to stop putting their lives on hold because they were in a spiritual season of waiting. Instead he told them to get back to the business of living during their wait to go home. Jeremiah said, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produced. Marry and have sons and daughters…increase in number there; do not decrease. And seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you in exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper…’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:5,6,7, 11 NIV)
This was a turning point during my ten year spiritual season of waiting to get a book published because it helped me to look for ways I could be productive. God surprised me! This waiting period actually became the subject of my first published book entitled Ready, Set…Wait, help for life on hold. During my spiritual season of waiting when I thought I was being unproductive, God was actually giving me the insights and teachings I could share with others in a book I didn’t know I was going to write!
There are so many truths in this Scripture about any spiritual season where it seems as if your life is on hold. Pray and ask God to show you the things you can do today and tomorrow and the day after that during spiritual seasons that feel unproductive. God has plans for you, to prosper you and give you a future and a hope!
The Bible describes the person who meditates on God‘s laws day and night as “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Psalm 1:3 NIV)
Step 4: Ask God to use your current spiritual season to draw you closer to him, to develop Christ-like character and love
We’ve already seen that we tend to not welcome spiritual seasons that don’t feel terribly productive. But in God’s view, we’re actually the fruit God is growing! It says in James, “He (God) chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.” (James 1:18 NIV)
And how does God help us grow? James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who give s generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)
Jesus tells us, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)
I personally have found that the times when my life situation is way out of my control I tend to draw closer to God and rely on him more closely and ask for his strength and grace moment by moment. Make the most of your current spiritual season to get as close to Christ as you can, trusting in him and not in your own strength or power or wisdom.
Step 5: Ask God to show you the dangers and pitfalls of your spiritual season and ask him for his help
Each spiritual season, even one that seems good and pleasant, has its pitfalls and dangers. For instance, a spiritual season of productivity has the potential of causing us to do things on our own strength and not depend on God, to become prideful or to let our busyness get in the way of our prayer times and worship times.
Proverbs offers up this unusual prayer: “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ’Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30: 8o, 9 NIV)
This shows us the two sides of the coin – good things blocking us from God through developing pride and bad things blocking us from God because we might develop desperation and hopelessness.
Here are more examples: A spiritual season of waiting might cause you to give up and go off on your own path and take matters into your own hands. A spiritual season of suffering may cause you to become angry with God and question your faith. A spiritual season of growth might cause you to become judgmental of others who aren’t growing as rapidly. A spiritual season of rest might cause you to stop seeking the things God wants you to be doing.
Step 6: Ask God to show you the spiritual gifts he wants you to use during your current spiritual season
The Bible tells us that God gives people spiritual gifts which they are to use for the good of the church and other believers. The Bible tells us “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (I Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV)
Examples of the gifts of the spirit include teaching, preaching, prophecy, administration skills, hospitality, encouragement, service, giving etc. During different spiritual seasons, the way you serve God and the kind of ministry you are gifted to do may change or develop. As an example, during a spiritual season of suffering, you may not be able to do much in the way of helping others or offering hospitality in the same you were able to during a spiritual season of productivity. Instead God might give you other spiritual gifts such as the gift of encouragement to others who are going through their own sufferings.
No matter what spiritual season you are in, God has a way for you to serve productively in his Kingdom. As an example, the Apostle Paul spent long periods of time in prison. During those times he wasn’t able to preach like he normally would when he was free. However he was able to write letters, and these became some of the greatest works of exhortation and encouragement every written.
Step 7: Ask God to show you how Christian community can help you during your spiritual season
God created the Christian community in such a way that each person can be in their own unique spiritual season at any given time. This is a wonderful blessing from God because those in more active seasons can be there to support those in seasons of need or seasons when they are searching for direction.
God also can use people who have previously gone through your current spiritual season to support you and give you hope and tips and testimony of how God worked in that season of their life. They are living testimony that this, too, shall pass!
And God can even form a bond between people who are all going through the same spiritual season as they gather in support groups and prayer groups to help each other during their mutual life journey.
Step 8: Ask God to help you do your part and pray your part in current spiritual season of your church or group
Churches and Christian groups also go through spiritual seasons as well. The Christian church has a long history of undergoing changes, trials and periods of growth. Each individual church follows this pattern as well because of the dynamics of change.
As an example, a church that was first established on Main Street 100 years ago finds itself on a very different Main Street today than when it was first built. The community may have changed around it into a different ethnic makeup or might change from a rural area to a city area. The values of the society it now finds itself in have changed dramatically. The spiritual and political climate has changed. The leadership has changed. The church itself constantly goes in and out of different spiritual seasons all of the time.
In Revelation when St. John sends prophecies to 7 different churches, each one of them seem to be in a different spiritual season. The church in Smyrna is going thought a spiritual season of suffering and want. The church in Ephesus is going through a season of productivity. The church in Sardis is going through a spiritual season of dryness and deadness. (See Revelation 2,3)
Ministers and church leaders need to ask God to help them see what spiritual season their church is in, help the congregation to avoid the pitfalls inherent during those spiritual seasons and to work in harmony with God to make the most of their current spiritual season.
Step 9: Ask God to prepare you for the next spiritual season
Whatever spiritual situation we happen to be in today, we need to continually pray for wisdom to notice when God is starting to do something new in our life situation. Spiritual seasons are never permanent and one particular spiritual season doesn’t necessarily follow any other season in any predetermined order.
By asking God to prepare you for your next spiritual season, when it does come you will have more confidence and trust that God will be with you during it and he will work his good purposes in you during it.
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Copyright Karen Barber 2019. All rights reserved.