I’ve become a self-confessed ‘devotion champion’ of late, and that’s why it pains me to know a number of my nearest and dearest don’t have (or are struggling to have) a consistent devotional life. As someone that’s experienced a full spectrum of ‘closeness’ to God, from amazing highs (100% living Isaiah 26:9a right now), to crushing lows (not wanting anything to do with God/church) – I know what it’s like to feel lost/confused with where to begin. Whether you’re currently ambivalent about your need to have an active devotional life, or you don’t feel like you’re getting the most out of them, I hope this helps. These pointers won’t magically change everything since they’re not profound in any way. However, I hope they encourage/assist you to evaluate your current devotional life (hereafter – DL).
1. Examine why you don’t have a DL
In my most recent ‘drifting away’, I had decided that not sinning was too hard so there was no point spending time with a God that had unrealistic expectations. So I didn’t. But what’s your reason?
There are so many reasons, but I’ll address the following three:
Are you too busy? Are you unsure of what to study? Does it feel pointless?
2. Find ways to practically counteract the reason given in point 1
Time – 5 minutes is better than 0 minutes – I’m sure you can squeeze that in at some point in your day. The thing about devotions is that they usually become addictive… suddenly 5 minutes turns into 10 and that keeps spiralling until you find yourself upwards of 1 hour. My point is that you simply need to ‘make room’ (as per one of my favourite Jonathan McReynolds songs).
Quality is better than quantity
Content – the wealth of devotional books, apps, and Bible plans on offer allows you to study almost any topic. Personally, I prefer to study topics that are relevant to me at that moment in time (with the aim of answering specific questions). For example, with my last issue (point 1), I was annoyed that how I was feeling was at odds with the ‘abundant’ life that Jesus promises in John 10:10. So I decided I’d re-start my DL by looking at that topic. From then there has been a natural progression of follow-on topics:
Abiding -> discipline -> comfort -> hearing God’s voice
The thing that genuinely excites me about studying every morning is that I’m finding out more about a topic that is relevant to me, and I’m getting answers to pertinent questions. In other words, I’m not just casually reading to tick a box on my list of ‘Christian duties’; I’m learning more about both God and myself.
Searching is better than sifting
Mindset – if you approach your devotions assuming they’re of no benefit, your bias is likely to hinder any possible benefits. Try assuming that it’ll be useful (especially in light of what was discussed in ‘content’), and you might just surprise yourself!
Positivity promotes progress
3. Start a journal
I LOVE journaling! I use an A4 2-days to a page journal and it helps cement what I’ve learned as I have to summarise it concisely. In the past I’ve also made electronic notes on my phone. However, the most important thing is that you write/type something to document your journey. For me, a summary of what I’ve meditated on, and how it applies to me is mandatory. The personal applications are then included in the subsequent prayers. Journaling my DL has been really beneficial because I’m more likely to remember what I’ve studied, thus it feels like I’m building/growing rather than just going through the motions.
4. Cultivate a spiritual appetite
Your devotions shouldn’t be the only time of the day that you engage with spiritual content. If for the remainder of the day you tend to surround yourself with non-spiritual content, then you may be starving yourself of the opportunity to develop a spiritual appetite. Engaging with more spiritual content (e.g. sermons, podcasts, music, books, and blogs) will increase your desire for personal study, or supplement what you’ve studied.
Have you tried:
- Listening to a podcast as you eat instead of a movie/TV series?
- Following a Christian social media account so you see spiritually uplifting posts regularly?
- Being selective about your ‘background’ music (i.e. what you listen to as you perform various tasks throughout the day)?
From listening to podcasts that helped me view my devotion from a different perspective… or seeing random encouraging posts in between Instagram stories which affirmed what I’d studied… to being convicted about the lyrics of a song I usually don’t pay that much attention to…
I can honestly say I’ve tried (and still do) all of the above, and it’s genuinely helped me to be consistent with my DL!
5. Find an accountability partner
This individual should be someone that at the very least will consistently ask you how your devotions are going, and hopefully pray/study with you too. Personally, points 1-4 were enough to get me back on track. However, I am an accountability partner for a few friends, and I genuinely enjoy praying for them daily. In addition, I also tend to:
– give them a ‘devotion phone call’ (literally calling to remind them)
– ask for brief summaries of what they’re studying (and sharing mine)
If you want to talk about devotions, then I am SO here for it! Drop me a message on the Contact page and I’ll reply asap.
Watch this video for more tips
Friend: Why are you so down about me not having devotions? It’s not the end of the world…
Me: It may as well be! You’re disconnected from your life source so you’re basically a dead person walking around. It’s upsetting!
I may have been a tad bit on the dramatic side, but this particular friend knows that I have the utmost concern for their spiritual health. Don’t deprive yourself of the spiritual nutrition you desperately need – John 15:4-5 is real, so believe the promise of Jeremiah 29:13!