3 Ways to Build Spiritual Momentum

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Willpower is overrated.

While the American ethos will tell you that you have to bootstrap your way to success, the truth is that all of us have benefited from hidden advantages along the way.

  • My friend Gene grew up in Wyoming. He thinks that helped him get into a college in Washington, DC.
  • Another friend happened into a job at a school that paid for 100% of his kids’ tuition. 

You get the point. Each of us has had someone help us at some point along the way. In my mind, that gives us reason for gratitude. If you recognize those that helped you, you’ll forever be thankful for their friendship and assistance.

When it comes to prayer, another “help” is necessary but it doesn’t necessarily come from friends. Rather, it comes as a result of building momentum. I can remember, as a young father, taking my oldest daughter out sledding. The snow was bright white and the quiet it produced made for a perfect afternoon together. 

At one point I invited my daughter to sled down the steepest part of the hill. Not knowing anything different, she said yes and away she went. Faster and faster she sledded and with each foot further down the hill, I grew more worried. Momentum does that- it pulls you in a direction, often faster and further than you realize.

The sledding ended with a bit of parental relief and my daughter lived to tell about it. It taught me something important that day- the spiritual life, to end up in divine union with Christ, needs momentum along the way. 

How do you build spiritual momentum? And, how do you know when you’re swimming in that same pull of God?

I suggest three actions that can help you to build this momentum in your relationship with God:

  1. Commit to a daily quiet time with God. Of all spiritual practices, this is the most important. This daily “check-in” provides an honest conversation with the Lord. Like physical exercise, the daily quiet time has benefits beyond what takes place in 10,20, or 30 minutes of prayer.
  2. Get a spiritual director. I’ve never had a personal trainer but I hear they are amazing. What I have benefited from is a spiritual coach (or “director”) and the guidance has been invaluable. Each month, I make a visit to see him and always walk away with a wind under my sails. 
  3. Go to Confession at least once a month. This advice is one that took me at least 40 years to figure out. I’m not sure I can even explain it but let me put it this way: when you are clearing out the cobwebs of your sin, in an organized way, good things follow. This is what the Sacrament of Confession does for us. Again, momentum follows.

Let’s say that you commit to these three action steps and start to sense that God’s pull (i.e. intimacy in motion) is getting stronger. You’ll start to notice that you are in a good season of spiritual growth. This is momentum and it may look like any of the following:

– Your eye contact with others is longer lasting

– You hear homilies at Mass with more clarity

– You take more time, patiently, to read the Bible

– You linger a little longer as you are journaling each day

– Small things seem interesting

– You find yourself praying for others with a more earnest heart

You could probably add another ten things I’m sure! 

The key in all of this is to begin today.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to let God “pull” you closer to Himself. Do one small thing today to make yourself open to His grace and mercy. You can do it because God can do it through you.

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