We’ve all fallen into bed at night, so exhausted from the day’s activities that we doze off mid-prayer. Mornings, too, can be a flurry of activities as we prepare our children for school, catch the morning traffic report and weather, and mentally rehearse for the work day ahead. Not surprisingly, a rich spiritual life comes by taming the uncooperative and easily distracted flesh. We must make an act of the will to embrace the self-discipline of prayer. The structure of a daily devotional has helped me to focus and dedicate a set amount of time to scripture reading and prayer.
The following are three benefits that have enriched my life since I began this practice.
The best devotionals ask questions and have opportunities for journaling. They ask me to examine my behaviors in light of the Scripture passage. Sometimes I realize that I have neglected people or areas of my life that need my attention. Hebrews 4:12 reminds me that being immersed in God’s Word is not for sissies. His word holds up a mirror to our sinfulness. Not in a hellfire-and-brimstone rulesy sort of way, but in a “I want to love you deeply and be beautiful for you” way.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12
God’s Word is alive because it keeps teaching me and reminding me of his promises. No matter how much I study the Bible, he never ceases to amaze me with some new insight into his wisdom and truth. Two thousand years having passed doesn’t negate the relevance of his plan for my 21st century life. That alone, is worth waking up to discover.
The beautiful old hymn about "a closer walk with thee," sums up what a life of faith should be. I daily look to the Lord for strength, as well as guidance. To begin my devotional, I take a moment to examine my day and all the people or situations I encountered. I ask myself, did I love, did I forgive, did I support, and when necessary, did I let go? I ask God for forgiveness when I didn’t and vow to make things right as much as I can.
In the same way at the end of my devotional, as I prepare for the morning I think, what are my priorities? Does my ‘to do’ list reflect those priorities? I have yet to have one single day where I behaved with perfection. As a matter of fact, I’m still figuring out what perfection is, however, if I boast of my weakness, I trust in Paul’s words that God’s power will be made perfect in it. (2 Cor. 12:19).
We are bombarded by input day in and day out: 24/7 news, radio, Facebook, text messages, Instagram, work, customers, emails, idle chatter, and noise. When do we turn it off? Once you begin taking time for devotionals and incorporating quiet meditation, you will crave this daily oasis of silence. Sometime I just sit in God’s presence without saying a word. Kind of like “Son-bathing,” I just soak in his presence. Occasionally, he talks to me, sometimes I just feel his peace and know that everything is going to be okay.
The more time we spend with the Lord, the more we become like him. When we know God’s peace, our own being can radiate God’s presence into a chaotic, broken world. What's your favorite devotional?