One of the great struggles a lot of Christians have is establishing an effective devotional routine. This week I would like to offer some help for those who are struggling with this important part of the Christian life. I plan to break this down into five days of posts:
Today – What is it? How Often?
Tuesday – When and Where?
Wednesday – What do you Need?
Thursday – Expectations
Friday -How to Endure
What is it?
Let’s start with defining the terms. What do I mean by a devotional time? For years, it was called a “Quiet Time” in the circles in which I ran. Some people call it a personal worship time. Whatever you choose to call it, it is a vital part of Christian growth. But what exactly is it?
A devotional time is simply a time when you get a alone with the Lord to engage in personal worship. At a minimum it includes spending some time reading the Bible and some time praying to Him. Those two functions, Bible reading and prayer, are the two indespensible elements of a devotional time. Other elements can include singing, listening to music, meditating on His Word, memorizing Scripture, journaling, and reading a devotional book. But I believe it is important that we do not let some of the “other elements” crowd out the two primary elements: Bible reading and prayer.
Daily should be the goal. Be careful to avoid legalism (obeying laws or observing certain habits makes us right with God or causes God to love us more or less based upon our performance). There is nothing you can do that can cause God to love you more and nothing you can do to cause God to love you less. Your relationship to God is secure and complete through Jesus Christ (provided your trust is in Him). I do not want to suggest that failing to have a devotional time daily makes someone a “bad” Christian. I do, however, recognize that spiritual growth is generally accelerated or hindered by the frequency or infrequency of our devotional habits. Also, spiritual power for effective living and serving is usually proportional to your closeness to God as encouraged through daily devotional time.
The Bible places an expectation on seeking the Lord through His word and through prayer daily:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. – Joshua 1.8, ESV
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night. – Psalm 1.1-2, ESV
…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints… – Ephesians 6.17-18, ESV
…pray without ceasing… – 1 Thessalonians 5.17
Fulfilling these Scriptural demands are very difficult, nay, nearly impossible apart from daily habitual time in Bible reading and prayer.
Show me a Christian who is being used powerfully of the Lord and having consistent victory over sin and a you will find a Christian who will testify to the importance of daily time with the Master.
Challenge: Make a commitment to spend time daily with the Lord through Bible reading and prayer.