To have a devotional life means that you have consistent communication with God in a formal way. I love prayer and I pray all the time! However, to have some time each and every day — to put aside whatever is going on in my life and to read scripture, pray, journal and reflect on my faith is powerful.
God constantly comes to us in different ways. I liken this back to when Peter tries to walk on water to Jesus, he got out of the boat and took a few steps but he was afraid. Instead of letting Peter drown Jesus reaches out to Peter and pulls him back on to the boat to safety. In the same way, like any relationship I think Jesus also wants us to come to Him. Routine is good, it helps us stay consistent but I think the best way to have a deep devotional life we need to have an authentic experience.
No devotional life looks the same but here are ten things that I think strengthen our devotional life.
- Make Some Time
This seems to be the hardest thing to do for most people. I know once I am up in the morning my kids are up soon after. Then I am getting them ready for the day and out the door before I even have breakfast! There is no right or wrong time of the day. I like the mornings so I do try and get up early to have some time with God before interruptions start to happen. Whatever time you choose try and keep it consistent.
2. Find a Quiet Place
Finding the right place is key to your success. When I was a kid (okay even in college and seminary) I would “study” in bed. Before I knew it I woke up an hour later and got nothing done! Try and find a place that is comfortable, and distraction free. It works even better if you have your Bible, devotional material and journal there waiting for you so everything is ready to go.
3. Create a Plan
In order to be successful you need to have a plan. I can sit down with my Bible and open it up and start to read, but there needs to be a goal. Think about how much time you need, and what you want to accomplish. Do you want to read through the whole Bible? Do you want to start with the Psalms or the Gospels? How much time do you want to spend everyday? I would suggest to start with 15 -30 min a day. Start with a realistic goal so it is a helpful thing rather than to add stress.
4. Choose a Bible Reading Plan or Bible Study
This summer I hope to embark upon a journey that will take a number of people through a year long Bible reading plan. If this is something you would like to join in on please let me know. But finding something that works for you is important. There are a ton of Bible reading plans that you can choose from, or you can buy a book that will aid you in having a more focuses time of reading and study.
5. Some Time in Prayer
Talking with God is important After reading some scripture I would suggest spending some time in prayer. Ask God what He is trying to say to you in the scripture. Tell God about your struggles and cares and then spend time listening to His voice. Prayer does not only happen during devotional time but it can happen anytime and anywhere. Spend time thinking and praying on what you read and then listen for God’s voice in your life.
Worship can happen in your devotional time. It is important to be able to thank and praise God for all God does for us in our lives. However, more than that I think we need to be fed in a worship community. A number of years ago I was a part of a Christian Rock band. I was employed by a church as a youth director during that time as well. The thing that surprised me the most about being a part of that band is that they did not worship. We would often start our practices with a devotion and a time of prayer, asking for the spirit to be with us in our music and ministry but it would end there. Worship is such a big part of my life that I find myself needing it to strengthen my everyday walk with God.
7. Write in a Journal
I believe that writing in a journal keeps us focused on our devotional life. Sometimes I find myself writing to get thoughts out of my head and down on paper. Writing in a journal helps me process what is going on in my life and to help me think about what I read and how it applies to my life. Sometimes I journal thoughts, prayers and insights that I like to keep between myself and God.
8. Follow Your Plan
I have read that if you continue to do something for 21 days you will form a new habit. I believe if you commit yourself for a devotional life for a month you will never want to go back. Not only will it deepen your faith but you will physically feel better as well. You might not be able to keep it up everyday with no breaks. if you miss a day or two it is okay. Just pick up where you left off the day before! The rewards outweigh any challenges.
9. Be Flexible
I believe that being flexible is the key to life. Whenever you are stuck or feel out of sorts you need to change directions. It is okay if you make changes. If you start a study and don’t like it……find a new one!!! If you get in a rut, start over!! Keep trying something new until find something that is right for you.
10. Help Someone Else
I don’t believe God wants us to be in communication with Him and then not do anything about it. I think that God wants us to spend time in worship, prayer and devotional life to Him and then to help others do the same. Consider sharing with a friend, family member or co-worker what you read in your devotional time earlier that day. Invite your significant other to pray with you in the morning or make devotional time a family activity at the end of each day.
I believe having a devotional life each day is important to the development to our life of faith. I think that it is something that may be hard for us to start but in the end it is very beneficial to us and you will notice that benefit right away.