Like prayer, having a solid devotional life is critical to every Christian who desires to grow in Christ. Over time, how we spend our devotional time shifts and changes. We do the best we can to stay close to our creator, growing in knowledge and understanding of Him, and try to (re)build a relationship with Him that is better than the one we had, yesterday, last month, last year. However, no matter what you do, how you change that time you set aside each day for time to devote to your love and reverence for Jesus, it can easily becomes routine, stale, and finally dead. Here’s a few pointers so as not to let that happen.
1. Change up the time that you do your devotions.
First of all, let us not mistakenly think that our morning prayer is, or needs to be our daily devotional.
Most of us spend our devotional time in the morning – and with good cause. It’s always a good idea to put God first and foremost in your day’s activities. It’s also a good idea go forward in the day with a Goodly perspective, something that we have initiated by seeking God first thing in the morning. Psalm 5:3 states, “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” Psalm 90:14 says, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” And we have the example of Jesus in Mark 1:35: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
It’s always a good idea to begin your day in prayer. I truly believe that this is not only helpful, but necessary for a Godly focused day, and for all Christians to grow in a heavenly perspective. But let us not mistakenly think that our morning prayer is, or needs to be our daily devotional. If you have been doing your devotionals in the morning and incorporating your morning prayers into or as your devotional, don’t think you’ve got it all wrong. You’re doing just fine. What I am saying and for some of you encouraging, is that if the morning is when you have been doing your devotionals and your devotional time has become stale, stagnant or unmoving, consider doing at at a time when your mind is more clear and your heart more open to God. Also, keep in mind that we grow in knowledge and understanding of God by the “renewing of the mind” (Romans 12:2), and if you mind is not sharp when you do your devotionals, you may be missing out in some great nuggets a d insight because of the fog of sleepiness in the morning.
2. Try a time of doing devotionals together with your spouse, friend or family member.
…while we may not be reading at the same time, we are still to some degree – going through devotions together.
Devotionals have always been a personal thing for me. Not that I do not want to have time with the Lord or in prayer with my wife or anyone else, it’s just that this is a time of communion, and sometimes it needs to be personal. If this is how you feel, that you need to do devotional time alone, so be it. Again, no problem there. But if you are looking to change things up, doing devotional with someone is another way to do just that. This year our family is trying something new. For Christmas my wife and I purchased for every member of the household, the same devotional (in this case David Jeremiah’s Sanctuary), a notebook/Journal and a quality pen. As two are going to a local Community College, I work full time, my wife works part time, and the third child is homeschooled and busy with High School sports and a part-time job himself, we do not have a great deal of time when we can all sit together and read and discuss our devotionals all at the same time. So, what we have instituted is individual devotional times, after which we record our thoughts, questions or comments, so that when we do have time to be together in the weekends and occasional week nights, that we can go through our notes as a family. So while we may not all be reading at the same time, we are still, to some degree going through devotions together.
There is no biblical standard here. Jesus often prayed alone (Matthew 14:23, Luke 5:16), and then again, he liked to pray and study in groups (Matthew 11:1, Matthew 24:3). Either way is fine.
3. Don’t always use cookie-cutter or pre-written devotionals.
Many are available through apps that can be used on most electronic devices like phones, tablets and PC’s
While most of us at some time or another have read the most popular devotionals like Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest, Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, or the Patience and Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, this is not the only way to have a quality devotional. You can use a Bible reading plan for a dev optional. Many are available through apps that can be used on most electronic devices like phones, tablets and PC’s. Many bibles actually have a bible reading plan in their index. I know many people that read through Psalms every month. If any of these things works for you, go for it. No harm will come to you from extra reading of scripture, I’m sure of that! But if the cookie-cutter devotionals are not cutting it for you, or if you are simply looking for something different to freshen up your devotional time, the bottom line is, you have plenty of options.
4. Don’t discard as ineffective, cookie-cutter, pre-written devotionals.
…these can be rewarding and enlightening.
There is a reason that so many people have read the most popular devotionals like Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest, Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, or the Patience and Presence of God by Brother Lawrence – they are loved and effective – just not to all people at all times. I personally have read each of these devotionals over the years. As i have already shared, this year our family is doing a new pre-written devotional. I have taken my time away from the classic form of devotional books and dome straight bible reading. I have designed my own curriculums before. I have had no pre-arranged plan at all, and just let the Lord lead me each day. Each of these can be rewarding and enlightening. If you read through a pre-written devotional last years and you enjoyed it, try another. If you think you’d like to try another method this year, go for it. My point here is that cookie-cutter pre-written devotionals have blessed innumerable people over the years. Don’t discard them just because they are the “cool thing” or because this is what “everybody does”. Make sure to give these a try sometime as well.
5. There is no right or wrong way.
What matters is the result, not the method.
Is there a right way to do devotionals? Yes, but it has nothing to do with style or format. The right way to “do devotionals” is in a way that brings you quiet time of reflection and love with the Lord each and every day. Whether the method you choose to bring you to this place of personal communion with God the Father, and Jesus His Son and our Savior is by pre-written devotionals, personally designed plans, a loose time of allowing the Lord to lead, or just quiet meditation over a single passage – it does’t matter. What matters is the result, not the method.
Giving ourselves time to be with the Lord each day is critical to our growth if for no other reason than simply to show God the reverence He deserves. God IS the Creator of all things. Jesus is the God/Man who’s sacrifice made it possible for us to be reconciled with the Father and have access to eternity. Yes, we at least owe God our thanks for that. But ultimately, Your devotional time should be exactly how you need it to be, in order to be drawn to God in a way that blesses both Him and you.