I am sure you can relate, but sometimes I don’t feel what I know. Sometimes, my head is disconnected with my heart. I know in my head that Jesus is supreme over all. I know in my head that everything is disgusting when compared to Christ (Philippians 3:8). But although I cognitively acknowledge these to be true and believe them with all my mind, sometimes these precious truths don’t make it all the way to my heart. I often find that the connection from my head to my heart gets short-circuited. Like my old apartment, the pipes often get clogged.
What is one supposed to do when they find their themselves seemingly unaffected and distant from the glories of Christ? How can we help our cold hearts to grow warm? Here are eight things that greatly help to bring the truth of Christ into my heart and increase my affections for Christ.
Sing Good Hymns Out Loud and Slowly. “I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13:6). Good hymns are like powerful sermons put to music. Singing them out loud and slowly has become a very helpful way to let God’s truth soak into my heart. If you don’t know many good hymns, check this page out for a very good list with lyrics and even demos to hear how they sound. Don’t let your singing be restricted to Sundays!
Pray in Response to the Scriptures. When my heart is cold my prayers are ice. I’ve said this before, but few things help me pray like God’s Word. Take on the Lord’s Prayer or the Ten Commandments or other gospel rich verses and pray that God would give you strength to obey His commandments, faith to believe His promises, conviction to repent of your sins, and a heart to delight in His Word. Let your words to God be guided by God’s Word to you.
Confession of Sin to God. Sin breeds sorrow. The more sin we hold onto and do not confess, the more sorrow we let fester in our soul. Although all our sins are forgiven completely by the cross of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21), the nausea they bring often does not leave us without repentance and confession. As Thomas Watson once noted, “Confession (is) the vomit of the soul whereby the conscience is eased of the burden that laid upon it.” Take time to think about your sins and acknowledge them to the Lord while being reminded that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Before leaving this point, I have found that, in addition to confessing sins to God, confessing sin to others is also immensely helpful. James 5:16 commands us to, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Yes, confess your sins to God, but don’t forget to bring them to others as well. When was the last time you confessed your sins to another Christian and received prayer? For some more thoughts on confession & repentance, check this out.
Memorize Gospel-Rich Passages. Memorization is a powerful way of meditation. If you have a hard time getting God’s truth into your heart, try getting it into your memory. I have found that the repetition and work of memorization works like a jack hammer to break up my hard heart and renew it with gospel truth. Take verses that center on the person and work of Jesus (e.g. Colossians 1:15-22; 1 Peter 2:24-25; Hebrews 10:10-14; John 3:16-17; Romans 3:21-26) a work to commit them to memory. Here is a very helpful memorization system to help to this end.
Get Together With Godly for Fellowship. Friends who love Jesus rub off on you. I find it very difficult to stay unaffected by Christ when I am engaged in conversation with other men who love Him and want to honor Him. Hebrews says it well: “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—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). We need one another and to especially be encouraged by one another.
Meet with Faithful Pastors and Listen to Faithful Preaching. Ephesians 4:11 says that Christ has gifted His church with gifted people to bless her and make her more mature. Faithful pastors and preachers are gifts to the church and the church should receive them as such. It is not unspiritual to look to people to help your cold heart. Call your pastor and ask to meet with him. Tell him about your struggles and allow him to minister to you. Also, get yourself under faithful preaching so God’s Word may be given to you from the lips of another. Allow the Lord to minister to you through His ministers.
Read a Puritan. To say it quickly, the Puritans were masters of clearing the pipes from the head to the heart. They were men who loved God’s Word and desired it to be loved also by God’s people. Try taking up this one or this one.
This list is not exhaustive, but I hope it offers some practices that will help you warm your heart in the fires of Christ. The practices themselves are not the goal or point, but are simple roads that can be helpful to bring us to experiencing fellowship with our Lord. They have blessed me and I hope they do so for you.
What about you? What are some things that have been helpful for increasing your affections for Jesus?