Expectations play a key role in our motivation and our success. This is true also in regard to an effective devotional life.
This is a short list, but it should help you set your expectations appropriate.
1. Don’t expect to immediately be logging 1-2 hours of devotional time each day. Start with some simple goals. Seek to spend 10 minutes in Bible reading and prayer (try 5 of each). Think of it like running. The first day you may only be able to run a half of a mile. But the next day you do it again. Then the next day you go a little farther. The next week you are running over a mile, and so on. Start with 10 minutes and then within a couple of months, don’t be surprised that you now need 20-30 minutes. Jesus would spend an entire night in prayer sometimes. If you try to start like that, you will probably burn out fast.
What do you need to have an effective devotional time?
A BIBLE. That is really the only necessity. I suppose if you didn’t have an actual, physical Bible with you, you could still reflect upon the Scriptures that you have memorized, but even then you are still engaging with the Bible.
The Bible is necessary because His Word is the means He has chosen to speak to us. And without utilizing the means He has chosen to speak to us, we are destined to only have a one-sided conversation: us talking to God. A dynamic relationship is one in which the conversation is two-way: both sides communicating to one another. God speaks to us in His Word and we speak to God in prayer. The two go hand-in-hand. In fact, one without the other for an extended period of time is not spiritually healthy. To pray apart from God’s Word is to eventually pray amiss. To read God’s Word without prayer is to eventually just be inputting information.
Is the Bible the only thing you should use in a devotional time?
Most Christians have found it very helpful to start their day off with a devotional time. Apparently Spurgeon said 1 hour of prayer in the morning is worth 2 at night. I can definitely identify with that statement. Someone has also said, “Better to pray for guidance and strength in the morning than to confess and repent at night.” The basic gist of these quotes is that you are more likely to experience spiritual victory throughout your day if you start the day with your devotional time. Much like the cereal commercials that emphasize that you start your day off right (physically) with their cereal, it pays off to start your day off right with spiritual nourishment.
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?
Odds are pretty good that you do. Perhaps this picture was on the wall at your Grandmother’s house or your home church. You might even have the picture on your wall. It is one of the most reproduced pictures of the 20th Century.
But do you know the story behind it?
Painted by Rhoda Nyberg, this famous portrait is from a photograph taken in 1918 by Mrs. Nyberg’s father, Eric Enstrom, a photographer from Bovey, Minnesota.
Ligon Duncan, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi, recently posted how he would like people, especially his congregation, to pray for him. I think the list is so good, I covet anyone doing the same for me. So here it is…feel free to pray these things for me as often as you like: