When times become difficult or chaotic, it’s easy to lose focus.
Like the disciples tossed to and fro by waves in the middle of the sea (Matthew [14:24]), we often fear disaster. We quickly question the trajectory of the ship, forget to row, cry out in fear instead of faith, and fail to look to the one who can calm the sea.
Storms can consume us, distracting us from the state of our hearts, the gaze of our eyes, the words of our mouths, and the actions we should be taking. Before we know it, we are likely in serious need of a spiritual detox — a cleansing, recalibrating, invigorating soul-treatment.
Four Soul-Detoxes in the Psalms
To detox my soul, I love to read through the Psalms. They’re raw, relatable, beautiful, and deeply convicting. There are so many truths to meditate on, prayers to borrow, promises to declare, words to memorize — it can be just the place to begin a detox of four key areas of my spiritual life.
1. Detox Your Heart
My heart is always the first thing in desperate need of a detox. I have learned that we can’t effectively fight the Lord’s battles in the world while neglecting the ones in our hearts. Countless times I’ve tried to advance in haste or self-righteousness, not realizing until later that it’s my own heart that I’m fighting. I must go to my knees to stop, repent, and reset. When times are tumultuous and emotions high, we must be particularly vigilant about sin creeping in.
As the psalmist pours out his soul, I’m encouraged to do the same as I search my heart before the Lord.
“Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind” (Psalm 26:2).
Ask the Lord to examine, prove, and try your heart and mind, as if testing metal to determine value and genuineness. We are prone to be partial to ourselves, making allowances where we should not.
“Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!” (Psalm [19:12]–13).
Our greatest temptations come not from without, but from within. Our heart’s secret sins give birth to almost every evil deed and gradually enslave us. Sin disguises itself: pride can be seen as conviction, self-sufficiency as industriousness, fear as attentiveness, skepticism as discernment, timidity as humility, and the list can go on and on.
“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name” (Psalm [86:11]).
Ask that the Lord teach us to live and act in accordance to his truth, pursuing hiswill. We need him to join all the purposes, resolutions, and affections of our hearts into a singular purpose to worship, obey, and honor him. Every day, every hour. If our hearts are divided, all will be wrong.
2. Detox Your Eyes
Amidst the million things we could look to, the psalmist reminds us where to set our gaze. Like a compass in need of recalibration, we will inevitably wander if our eyes are set on the wrong things.
“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways” (Psalm 1[19:37]).
Our view of what is real and true and life-giving is so easily blocked. Our prayer should be that of the nineteenth-century theologian Albert Barnes, “Make my eyes to pass rapidly from such objects, that I may not look at them, may not contemplate them, may not dwell upon them.”
“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8).
May we act and regard ourselves as always in the Lord’s presence, for what is continually before our eyes is what shapes us. If our gaze is locked upon the Lord in the struggle, pain, and change, we will be anchored and not disturbed by fear.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm [16:11]).
In the words of Augustine, “Lord, show me the road I must travel that I may see you.” God’s path alone leads to life, and his hand provides not just pleasure, but eternal pleasure. And not merely joy, but full joy.