I was ten years old when I first started having daily devotions. A godly Sunday School teacher challenged me to read the Bible and pray at least five minutes every day. “I can do that,” I thought, so I accepted her challenge. Little did I know at that time how transformative the practice of daily devotions would be in my spiritual growth and development.
Taking time every day to draw near to God through His Word and prayer might be one of the most life-changing disciplines we can cultivate. Below are a few thoughts that I pray will help you develop the discipline of daily devotions:
Remember the Goal
We don’t have daily devotions simply to “get something out of it.” The goal isn’t merely to find inspiration or strength to help us get through the day. We read God’s Word and pray so that we can know, worship, and glorify God. As John Piper notes, “When we seek to enjoy communion with the Lord, we read the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s words and God’s deeds reveal God himself for our knowledge and our enjoyment.”
How can we pursue this goal? Let me offer you a few suggestions: First, begin your devotional times asking God to show you His glory through the Scriptures (2 Cor 3:18). Take time to quiet your heart before Him (Ps 46:10) as you humbly acknowledge your dependence upon His grace, wisdom, and strength. Enter into His presence with thanksgiving (Ps 100) as you anticipate the joy of meeting with God. Carefully read, study, and meditate upon the Scriptures so that you can know God intimately and apply His Word faithfully. Respond to His Word in heartfelt repentance, worship, and prayer. As you close, ask Him for grace to apply His Word so that you might glorify Him throughout the day.
Don’t Replace God’s Word with Other Books
John Wesley once remarked, “It cannot be that people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading.” I thank God for books and blogs that have helped me grow in grace. I can’t overstate the importance of reading good books. The books we read profoundly influence the way we think. That being said, reading Christian literature should never supplant the time we spend reading God’s Word (Ps 138:2).
There’s a unique, life-giving power in the Scriptures that sets God’s Word apart from every other book. When we read the Bible, we have the opportunity to meet with the God of heaven. He communicates to us through His Word. As we behold His glory in the Scriptures, the Spirit changes us to become more like Jesus. (2 Cor 3:18). It is no wonder that David could write, “How I love your Law; it is my meditation day and night” (Ps 119:97).
So yes, read good books; but be a man or woman of the Book.
Let the Scriptures Shape Your Prayers
God’s Word is the fuel that ignites a life of prayer. We commune with God because He has first spoken to us. My sweetest times in prayer have come from either praying through a Biblical text or responding in prayer to a passage I just read from the Scripture.
During my devotions, I typically spend more significant time in prayer after I’ve read, studied, and meditated on God’s Word. Many godly saints have encouraged this pattern as well. Reflecting upon his own devotional practices, George Muller noted, “My practice had been… to give myself to prayer, after having dressed in the morning. Now I saw, that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, whilst meditating, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord… The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that though I did not, as it were, give to prayer but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less to prayer.”
Have a Plan
Commitment, structure, and principled living have fallen on hard times these days. Sadly, many seem to equate discipline with legalism. Discipline can, of course, become legalistic. But make no mistake about it: spiritual growth doesn’t happen without discipline. Jesus knew this, and encouraged us through His example (Lk 5:16) and teaching (Mt 6:5-15) to plan and structure time for communion with God.
Don’t be lazy, hazy, or crazy (sorry, couldn’t help it) when it comes to the discipline of daily devotions. Be consistent and thoughtful about your Bible intake. Plan periods of time where you can remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of life to fellowship with God.
Daily fellowshiping with God through the Word and prayer is one of the greatest privileges of the Christian life. May the Lord grant you strength, endurance, and wisdom to seek His face and walk with Him each day.
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