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 (Manna 92: Be Rooted and Grow)
Looking After Our Spiritual Health As Young Adults
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Naomi Shek—Edinburgh, UK  

For many students, starting university presents an array of new and unique experiences. We are likely to take on more responsibilities, independently managing our studies, time, and money. We learn important lessons on looking after ourselves, and acquire valuable skills for entering the workforce. As well as being exciting and enjoyable, the experience also eases us into adulthood. Thus, it is a critical time for us to become more independent and mature.

After moving away for university, I noticed that phone calls with my parents mainly centered around my health and well-being. They often reminded me to look after my physical health by eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising, but they also encouraged me to take care of my spiritual health.

Taking care of my physical health was pretty straightforward, but when it came to my spiritual health, there were times when I felt out of my depth. It is relatively easy to tell when our physical health is not doing well—we may feel more tired than usual or experience an unexpected pain or itch. However, the signs of poor spiritual health may not always be as obvious. This is why, like with our physical health, we must perform a thorough examination to know the condition of our faith.

After four years at university—of growing in independence and stepping into adulthood—I have learned many valuable lessons in how to nurture my spirituality. Here are some teachings I have gained so far.


“Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.” (Deut 4:9)

In this passage, God teaches the new generation of Israelites His law before they enter Canaan. He instructs each person to pay close attention to themselves, lest they forget the grace and wondrous things He has done for them and depart. The instruction to “take heed” is repeated three more times (Deut 4:15, 19, 23). If the people do not follow God’s guidance and are drawn to create idols and serve other gods, they will face specific consequences. God, as a consuming fire, will utterly destroy them (Deut 4:24).

This applies to us today. God instructs us to pay careful attention. We must examine ourselves to ensure that we do not stray from His word—to keep within His promise. Taking heed means we must constantly examine our conduct, thoughts, and attitude to ensure that we are fully in line with God’s commandments. Otherwise, we may unwittingly depart from His grace.

Having enrolled in an intensive and competitive course, notorious for its heavy workload, I knew that I could not afford to slack off. I also recognized the importance of being a well-rounded student, so I took the opportunity to join different societies during my first year. I quickly found myself busy with my studies and extracurriculars, which became permanent residents in my thoughts. Slowly, almost without realizing it, I reduced my daily Bible reading to only a few times a week, and my prayers grew shorter.

I knew that my spiritual health was suffering, but I attributed this to my heavy workload and adjusting to university life. In reality, I had become spiritually lazy and ensnared by worldly trends and desires.

It is easy for us to become immersed in our busy lives. Especially when we enter into a new environment such as university or college, our faith can be demoted on our mental priority list. This is dangerous, as we risk departing from God’s commandments. Our own lives and achievements can become idols in our hearts, unbeknownst to us.

God instructs us to be alert in our faith and pay close attention to how we live. This is His great mercy and love for us.


Knowing that we need to examine our faith is one thing, but knowing how to do it is another; here are some steps I found helpful during my studies.

Honest Self-Reflection

Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the LORD. (Lam 3:40)

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. (2 Cor 13:5–6)

Perhaps we have identified a problem, or maybe we have yet to. To know the condition of our faith requires that we must first look, through self-reflection. Reflection is a helpful tool involving a process of careful and conscious consideration of a topic or experience and developing personal insights and actionable takeaways that improve our understanding.

How can we apply reflection to our faith? Let us focus on a particular aspect: prayer. When we pray, do we consider the objectives of our prayer before we begin?

We can start by asking ourselves a few questions before we kneel. What will take up most of our focus during prayer time? Why are we praying for such matters in particular? What is our overall goal? Perhaps we spend a large portion of our time praying for our studies, that they may go smoothly and that we may be successful.

By questioning ourselves and inspecting our innermost requests, we can discover insights into the condition of our faith. If we are mostly praying for worldly comforts and blessings, and spending less of our prayers on matters relating to God’s salvation plan, this may reveal that our spiritual health is suffering. Our hearts may be solely focused on the things of the world rather than God’s divine will and salvation plan.

Next time, before we pray or read the Bible, we can set aside some time to prepare and reflect on a few questions for ourselves.  I do this by taking a quiet moment and creating a mental note of my objectives and needs, and considering whether they are in line with God’s will. Reminding ourselves of our purpose and His word can help bring our focus back to God. We can also use this method to reflect upon other aspects of our faith. If we are honest, God will reveal our spiritual condition.

Upon reflecting on my faith, I was able to experience a change in my thoughts and mindset towards my life and my relationship with God. Firstly, I identified that I had not entirely given myself to God and lacked good spiritual habits such as daily Bible reading and prayers. These good habits had been replaced by unhealthy secular desires, by which I had become influenced. When I considered honestly, I realized that I was not too busy for God. I wasted much of my free time on worthless and unedifying activities. I thank God that I learned from and identified my weaknesses through reflection.

God As Our Examiner

Examine me, O LORD, and prove me;
Try my mind and my heart. (Ps 26:2)

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps 139:23–24)

Introspection may reveal insights into the condition of our faith, but to understand more deeply, we must turn to God and ask Him to examine our hearts. We can do this by studying and meditating on God’s word. God is almighty and all-knowing; our minds and understanding are limited, but His understanding is limitless (Rom 11:33; Ps 147:5).

Just as we take notes during our university classes for revision, some of us may like to take notes during sermons and cultivation seminars. How often do we review our notes for further edification? There is little benefit if we take notes and never revisit them, forgetting all the teachings once the notebook is closed. Reviewing the sermon, using our notes or mental recall, provides an opportunity for consolidation, meditation, and assimilation of God’s word. There is always something more we can take away from studying God’s word, and through this, God speaks to us and brings to light our spiritual malaise.

Meditation can also be done during prayer: the Holy Spirit is able to search into our innermost thoughts to reveal our spiritual impurities and intercede for us (1 Cor 2:10, Rom 8:26). If we are willing, God will reveal ways to improve and change ourselves so that we live a genuinely God-centered life.

Spiritual Companionship

Sometimes, it takes a friend to point out our habits or weaknesses for us to notice them ourselves. This is the same for our faith; we are not alone on this journey of faith (Eccl 4:9). Sometimes a gentle reminder from a fellow brother or sister alerts us to an area where we are falling short.

When we receive reminders from others, we should honestly examine ourselves concerning whatever has been brought to attention, and work with God to change ourselves for the better. We should also be supporting our spiritual companions by looking out for them and their faith. Remember, they are doing it out of love, as a messenger from God. God will use us to look after each other.

Many students experience loneliness at some point in their university journey, especially as children of God who do not conform to the world. Some of our fellow students may indulge in drinking, partying, and worldly chatter. If we do not have any other brothers- and sisters-in-Christ at our university, we may feel lonely in our journey of faith. However, we can still be spiritual companions for others even if we are physically apart. We can do this by meeting virtually and sharing through online fellowships, prayer groups, and Bible studies. We are all part of the body of Christ, and every member contributes to the growth and edification of the whole (Eph 4:15–16).

We can start by building spiritual relationships within our youth fellowships. I observed that youths may spend a lot of time together and know about each other’s lives yet understand little about each other’s spirituality. We must prioritize fruitful and edifying discussion over worldly chatter to build spiritual relationships. We must have the willingness to be open about our faith to others. This may involve sharing during fellowship meals or creating a group message chat for encouragement during the week.


Once we have identified our spiritually unhealthy habits, we must change them. The elder James reminds us to be doers, not just hearers, of the word (Jas 1:22–25). If we have learned something new about our faith, we must rectify it by taking action to improve ourselves so that our lives more closely reflect God’s standard. If we neglect to act upon what God has revealed to us, we are just like the man who observes himself in the mirror and, when he goes away, immediately forgets what kind of man he is.

Sometimes we can be unknowingly influenced by the things of this world, especially within an unfamiliar environment such as a university. Adopting a reflective attitude towards my faith has helped me grow and discover areas I need to improve. Doing so has allowed me to honestly assess whether I am fully obeying God’s word or if there are parts of me that deny or disobey Him. I have truly felt His abidance and blessings when I work to improve my spiritual health.

Today, we are walking this faith journey in a world where temptation and sin lurk around every corner. To protect us, God has instructed us to pay close attention to ourselves, that we may be kept in His promise and continue to be built up in our faith. To maintain our spiritual health, we need to cultivate a life of honest reflection on our faith, while allowing God’s word to examine us. Remember, we are not alone on this journey. God has prepared for us spiritual companions. It is our holy duty to look out for each other’s spiritual health.

Adopting good spiritual habits can be difficult at first, but as long as we are willing to change, God will work with us and bless us even more extensively.

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Author: Naomi Shek
Publisher: True Jesus Church
Date: 03/03/2022