12 Steps for Spiritual Strength Training and Spiritual Nutrition

Operation Lipizzaner: Former Nazi vet paves way for horse rescue (Part 2 of 3)
February 4, 2023
Vaccine News You Can Use (for health professionals)
February 9, 2023
Show all

12 Steps for Spiritual Strength Training and Spiritual Nutrition

I enjoy being able to answer questions from the readers of Today’s Christian Living magazine in my bi-monthly “Ask Dr. Walt” column. In the January 2023 issue, I opined on a single topic: 12 Steps for Spiritual Strength Training and Spiritual Nutrition in 2023.

A reader, who I called “Resolution Setter in Rhode Island,” wrote:

With the coming new year, what resolutions do you most recommend for folks to improve their overall health? Improved nutrition? Weight loss? Increase exercise and movement? Better sleep?


Benjamin Franklin wrote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” As you know, without a deliberate effort to move, exercise, strengthen, rest, and nourish our fleshly bodies, we become fat, out of shape, get sick more often, and die prematurely. In the same way, ignoring our spiritual health makes us spiritually flabby with weak moral muscles and weakened characters.

Of course, the opposite is also true. If we improve our physical health, strength, flexibility, and nutrition, we live a life with the potential for greater quality and quantity. We become stronger, healthier, and more capable. And if we pursue spiritual nutrition and training, we are better able to resist temptation, and we are equipped to win spiritual warfare and resist Satan.

The Apostle Paul instructed, “Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim 4:8, NASB95).

And Jesus instructed us to, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33, NLT).

So, for 2023, I’m suggesting that you all consider spiritual strength training and spiritual nutrition. By those terms, I’m referring to those regular spiritual practices that benefit our overall health and the quality of our lives—activities or disciplines that produce spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational health.

Pastor John Ortberg wrote, “Practices such as reading Scripture and praying are important—not because they prove how spiritual we are—but because God can use them to lead us into life.”[1]

Although the Bible has no comprehensive “spiritual training list” that followers of Jesus should practice, it does command us to do certain things regularly.

My experience is that these disciplines produce abundant fruit. Like most healthy habits, the key is to start small and make new healthful habits one at a time—maybe even concentrating on adding or improving just one of these dozen disciplines each month in 2023:

1. Read, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word.

In the Scriptures, God reveals Himself and His will for us. If we want to know and enjoy God, the place for a follower of Jesus to begin is God’s Word—the most powerful and reliable way He speaks to us. See also: Joshua 1:8; Jeremiah 15:16; Psalm 1:1-2; Psalm 119:11-16; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 6:17; 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:12.

2. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Each of these activities involves talking to God—throughout the day, every day. Another word for this is prayer. Think of these first two disciplines like spiritual breathing. We breathe in God’s Word, and we speak out our prayers of

3. Give generously of your treasure, time, and talent.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

Research suggests those who give generously are happier, healthier, less stressed, less anxious, and live longer. A 1944 newspaper column is credited with first observing: “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give”[2]

Giving blesses others and delights us.

No wonder the Bible says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8).

See also: Proverbs 11:24; 19:17; Matthew 23:11; Mark 9:35; Mark 10:43-44; Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35; Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Timothy 6:17-18; 1 Peter 4:10.

4. Fast.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites…[but] anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:16-18).

See also: Exodus 34:28; 2 Samuel 12:15-17; Isaiah 58:3-7; Joel 2:12-13; Daniel 9:3, 10:3; Esther 4:16; Nehemiah 1:4; Psalm 35:13-14; Luke 2:37, 4:2-4; Acts 13:2-3.

5. Worship (celebrate) God.

Worship is experiencing God and responding to Him.

This can occur in celebration with others and alone with God. In worship, we focus our minds and hearts on God and let our praise go up to Him.

God commands we worship only Him (Exodus 20:3) and Jesus said, “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

See also: 1 Chronicles 16:11; Psalm 95:6, 99:5, 100:2-4, 118:4; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19-20; James 4:8.

6. Fellowship (build community) with other followers of Jesus.

It was said of the early believers, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42) and were reminded, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

See also: Matthew 4:10, 28:17; John 17:21; Acts 3:8.

7. Seek and dispense forgiveness.

Unforgiveness and its associated toxic ABCs (anger, bitterness, and cynicism) are slow, lethal toxins that poison us from the inside out.

Forgiveness improves physical, mental/emotional, relational, and physical health.

We “forgive to live” and we “forgive to be forgiven.”

Jesus taught, “If you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25).

We can forgive much because we have been forgiven much! (Colossians 3:13).

See also: Proverbs 17:9, Matthew 6:14-15, 18:21-22, Mark 11:25, Luke 6:37, Ephesians 4:32.

8. Practice confession.

Jim Dennison writes, “There has been only one perfect person in human history. For the rest of us, transparency, when we fail, is a vital step toward redemption. Scripture calls us to confess our sins to our Father to be forgiven and cleansed (1 John 1:9) and to each other that we may be healed (James 5:16). And it promises: ‘Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy’ (Proverbs 28:13, ESV).”[3]

Confession is the pathway to release, righteousness, restoration, and recovery.

See also: Psalm 32:3-5; Proverbs 28:13; Acts 3:19.

9. Practice solitude, silence, Sabbath, and simplicity.

Solitude and silence are more a state of mind and heart than they are a place of quiet and peace—and by definition, silence requires you to turn off all electronic tools (computer, phone, e-mail, social media, etc.).

Sabbath has to do with taking regular time to rest and worship.

Simplicity is a declaration of war on materialism, and it reorients our lives, perspectives, and attitudes.

See also: Genesis 2:3; Leviticus 23:3; Psalm 4:8; 127:2; Matthew 11:28.

10. Be discipled/mentored and disciple/mentor others.

Pastor Andy Stanley wisely points out, “We each have a treasure chest full of life experiences that will die with us unless we become intentional about distributing our wealth. The value of your life is found when we share those experiences.”[4]

His sermon on mentoring is the best I’ve heard. You can watch or listen to it here.

In it, he says, “If you are over 40, you have the opportunity and obligation to share what you’ve learned with those coming behind you.”[4]

See also: Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 5:42; Philippians 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 2:3-5.

11. Voluntarily submit humbly to God and those in authority.

We commit to willingly yield our will, mind, and body for God’s purposes so we can better hear, receive, and obey His Word.

When we humbly submit to those in authority giving moral direction, we are also submitting and serving our Lord!

See also: Psalm 40:8; Micah 6:8; John14:15; Ephesians 5:21; Romans 13:1-7; Philippians 2:1-8; Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Peter 2:13-18, 3:1.

12. Pursue purity.

Practicing purity from “the deeds of the flesh” is a discipline because our natural inclinations draw us toward sexual and emotional impurity—toward immorality, idolatry, jealousy, greed, gluttony, and gossiping.

“The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life come not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16).

We must be disciplined to flee immorality and pursue pure thoughts and actions.

See also: Exodus 20:14; Matthew 5:28-29; Colossians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 10:13; James 1:14-15.

The Bible teaches, “The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked” (1 John 2:6, NET).

Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).

And Jesus, the only perfect, sinless person ever to live, practiced all but confession—which in His perfection He did not need.

Blessings on the journey!


All verses are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise indicated. Adapted from: Fit over 50: Make Simple Choices for a Healthier, Happier You, by Walt Larimore, MD, and Phillip Bishop, EdD, published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon. https://www.harvesthousepublishers.com. Used by permission.

[1] tinyurl.com/bdf7du6k

[2] tinyurl.com/y5hwb4sw

[3] https://www.christianheadlines.com/columnists/denison-forum/three-facts-explain-john-mccain-s-popularity.html

[4] tinyurl.com/y8xqfzx8


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.