“I’m stuck in a funk. I feel numb, like I’m ghosting through life.” I complained to Tom, my spiritual mentor. “I’m looking for something—but I don’t know what it is.”
“What’s the funk telling you?” Tom replied. “What would be life-giving?”
“I need something to jumpstart me—something to get me out of my head and back into my heart. I need to turn off the negative thoughts about what’s wrong with me and the world. I need to get back into the Flow.”
“Here’s an idea. How about you look for God in the bookstore?”
I scrunched up my face. “What do you mean?”
This Is How We Grow
Tom explained how reading scripture along with other spiritual books written by people a little further ahead of us on the journey is how God inspires us. It’s how we gain wisdom—the gift Solomon prayed for when he became King of Israel.
Spiritual writer Reena Mathur says inspirational reading is a vital part of human growth. It deepens our knowledge and makes us a better person. If you’ve ever met someone full of life, positivity, and happiness, she says, it’s a good bet that person has a habit of reading. Reading a good book has the power to lift your mood and bring a smile to your face.
Mathur notes these benefits from spiritual reading:
Lowered stress levels. Reading spiritual books improves your mental and physical health. Studies have proven that people who read are more likely to stay calm in stressful situations.
Enhanced power, concentration, and focus. Reading enhances your focus and concentration levels. The words within spiritual books offer constructive ways to empower you.
New perspectives. Inspirational books expand your thinking and sharpen your imagination. They shower divine light and wisdom upon you.
Deeper truths. The Bible and other inspirational books teach us deeper truths about life. They define the value and importance of our human souls. They help us understand ourselves, the world, and all Creation.
According to spiritual writer Susan M. Erschen, “The more we can open ourselves to a wide variety of spiritual writing, the more we will hear God speaking in our lives.”
“Spiritual reading can offer us a smorgasbord of messages. Words of courage for when we are afraid. Words of peace for when we are angry. Words of joy for when we are sad. Words of faith for when we have doubts. Spiritual reading can make sense of things we never understood before. It can open our eyes to our faith in ways we never considered.”
Erschen says spiritual reading is like a treasure hunt. We search for words to comfort and inspire us. We explore new thoughts and ideas that lead us up “new mountains or guide us through unexpected dark valleys.”
She offers these tips to get the most out of spiritual reading:
Schedule a regular reading time.
Sign up for daily meditations and reflections sent to your email.
When you find a word or phrase that inspires you, write it down and put it where you can repeatedly see and enjoy it.
Replace some of your television or social media time with spiritual reading. Keep spiritual books in a handy place so you can easily pick them up when you have down time. Take them with you to appointments or other places where you’ll likely have to wait.
Journal about what you learn so you can integrate it into your daily life.
Reading Empowers Us
As I pondered what Tom, Mathur, and Erschen said, I got to thinking about Jesus and how he often read during his time on earth. He unrolled the scrolls in the temple, then studied and memorized the words of the Old Testament. He integrated what he read into his life. The words shaped and formed him, helping him to understand his life’s purpose. They became words he quoted for strength and courage.
At his baptism, Jesus heard the Old Testament words from Psalm 2: “You are my son,” and Isaiah 42:1: “Here is my servant…my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.” These words clarified Jesus’ calling. They inspired him to claim the truth of God’s divine plan for him.
As he hung on the cross, Jesus cried out the words of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And at the moment of his death, Jesus quoted Psalm 31:5: “Into your hands I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.”
He must have read and memorized those words repeatedly during his thirty-three years on Earth. They weren’t merely words on a scroll—they were words that empowered him as he integrated what he read into his life.
“How about you set aside thirty minutes each day for spiritual reading?” Tom prodded me.
“Seriously? Do you know how busy my life is?” I asked. “Between four kids, my wife, a demanding career as a lawyer, and house chores, you want me to squeeze in one more thing?”
“You go to the gym daily to exercise your body, don’t you?” Tom looked straight into my eyes,.
“Yep,” I replied.
Tom explained that just as working out at the gym is necessary to maintain healthy bodies, inspirational reading is necessary to maintain healthy souls. It gives new insights and helps us make sense of ourselves and the world. It provides wisdom to chew on throughout the day.
So, I gave myself the gift of thirty minutes each day to read a chapter in a good spiritual book. I continue it regularly because it helps me get the funk out and grow. And when I start grumbling like a grumpy old man, I know it’s time to get back on the spiritual reading wagon.
Do yourself a favor. Carve out thirty minutes regularly to read an inspirational book. It’s one of the best “Gimme Thirty’s” you can give yourself. Spiritual Reading is an important practice that helps us Find Flow and reclaim inner peace, balance, and wholeness.
PS—Here’s a link to a short video I prepared celebrating the gifts of spiritual reading through the eyes of Sophia the Owl—a wisdom seeker.
—brian j plachta