Recently, I was in a conversation regarding spiritual growth. I was asked the specific question, “How does one know when they are spiritually mature?”. There are different dimensions to this. Externally, I would suggest that it would be an increase of obedience to God’s word, and an out pouring of the Holy Spirit’s fruit; Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, and so forth (Galatians 5:22). I will admit however, that these are not easily seen by an individual in their own growth. They are more externally granted that others may see and know that there is a God.
As I worked through this question in my mind. I did have a counter-question of “Would it be plausible that one’s prayer life changes according to their maturity level?” If there was a way to establish spiritual growth or maturity, how would one identify it within their own life? The answer, I would suggest, may lie in how we prayer or our general perceptions of prayer. A Spiritual immature prayer will often see God as a means to an end, or a “Genie in the bottle”. Their prayers can often be self-absorbed in their own wants or opinions of how God operates. When they would pray, their prayers would more likely encompass a prayer for things or wants or desires that will increase their comfort level. A prayer like, “God, I want you to work in my favour”, or “God, I want this…”. Supplication type of prayers are often normative. Now to add a disclaimer; I do think that God does appreciate and does want us going to him for assistance. But often, these prayers are about the individual, and can really appear to be narcissistic and self-absorbed. They are often one-sided conversations.
Perhaps, the maturity in our Christian walks can be viewed by our prayer life. As we mature in Christ, our prayers begin to change from a self-centric appeal to more of a worship or desire to know God more, or just to spend time with God. The prayer in this sense no longer focuses upon comforts, or the things of this world. It changes to, “Father, I just need you!”. At some point in our Christian walks, we get to that point where our prayer life shifts, from the ego-centric wants to the heartfelt desire of needing God. In this principle, I might suggest that this may be one of the signs that you are on your way of reaching spiritual maturity in Christ.
Throughout scripture there are numerous references to this. Often a term “Seek His face” is used to encourage a believer to always have God’s presence in focus. One could look at 2 Chronicles 7:14, for instance, where this seeking the face of God is associated with repentance that would lead to a radical improvement in the nation of Israel. Psalm 24:3-6 speaks of those who seek the face of God ascend to his most holy place. Jesus even speaks on this, shortly after his iconic Lord’s Prayer. He states, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, ESV). If you’re feeling dry, or unheard; maybe try to seek his face, not just his hands, i.e. what he can do for you. In doing so, you may open yourself up to a whole new level of understanding God.