Prayer for spiritual growth may be for growth in general, or for growth in a specific area: love, faith, patience, etc.. Successful prayer for spiritual growth is required to produce results in all other prayer. Prayer for spiritual growth is another prayer where God gives us the means to produce the result instead of giving us the result. Spiritual growth works just like physical growth. It is the result of the conception and fruitful growth of seed. The seed that produces spiritual growth is the word of God.
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which lives and abides forever. (1 Peter 1:23)
Jesus tells us, however, that Satan opposes the seed of the word of God. When the word is sown Satan comes immediately to take away the word sown in our heart. If his first effort fails, he attacks with trouble and persecution to cause us to turn from the word. If his second effort fails, he sows cares of this world, trust in other things, and desires for other things into our heart to choke the word and cause it to become unfruitful. (Matthew 13:19-23 , Mark 4:14-20, Luke 8:11-15)
The word of God grows and produces the fruit of spiritual growth in those who guard the word in their hearts. We must watch for the cares of this word, trust in other things, and desire for other things and resist them. Any cares of this world, trust in other things, and desire for other things that have already conceived in our heart must be plucked up by the roots and cast into the sea. (See Prayer for Repentance). These things choke the word and choke our spiritual growth. The word is fruitful in a good heart - one that is free from those things that choke the word.
As Peter records it:
So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speech. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby: (1 Peter 2:1-2)
Some seed of the word is taken immediately after it is sown into our heart. We need have on the armor of God and be alert to our thoughts and other things that occur immediately when the word is sown to stop Satan from taking it away. Jesus says that Satan is successful when someone hears the word and doesn’t understand it. Basically, if we lean to our own understanding and don’t perceive how the word of God is true, we misunderstand it or reject it. This points to the need for humility in spiritual growth. Humility and understanding come from fear of the Lord.
Satan also brings tribulation and persecution against the word to cause us to turn away from it. This works using concern for self (fear) that has been sown into our hearts. It must be cast out. Love has no concern for self in it. Faith believes that God will provide for our needs. This points to the need for enduring love and faith (patience) in spiritual growth. These are produced by fear of the Lord and the word of God.
The word of God does not produce fruit in those who only hear it. We must do the word - follow its instructions and submit to its correction - if it is to produce spiritual growth.
So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and with humility accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only deceiving yourselves. (James 1:21-22)
Like faith that must have accompanying action to live and produce fruit, the word of God must have accompanying action to produce the fruit of spiritual growth.
Every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age (spiritually mature), even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14)
Those who are spiritually mature have exercised their senses by doing the word and it has produced spiritual growth.
God has sent the Spirit of truth to guide and lead us into all the truth. This works to increase the fruitfulness of the word sown into our heart. Asking God to send his Spirit of truth to guide you into truth is an important help to spiritual growth.
Prayer for spiritual growth involves using the means God has revealed to us to produce spiritual growth. We must sow the word of God into our hearts, cast out everything in our hearts that choke the word, guard our hearts against new seed entering in that would choke the word, stand firm against trouble and persecution, and do the word. Asking God to send his Spirit of truth to guide and lead us into all the truth also helps us receive the word and helps increase its fruitfulness. This works for general spiritual growth and it works for growth in a specific area like love, faith, etc..
Spiritual growth is the growth of the word of God in us. Choking the word of God chokes our spiritual growth and chokes the power of the word working in us to meet needs. It chokes our perception of the truth and it chokes love, faith, righteousness, and unity.
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. We speak according to the seed bearing fruit in our heart. If we follow the means given us for spiritual growth, then the abundance of our heart will shift from being corrupt seed to the word of God. What we do, say, and think will change: it will be produced by and be under the control of the word of God.
If any man offend not in word, the same is a spiritually mature man. (James 3:2)
For more details on spiritual growth, see my book, Spiritual Growth, here or an online book store.