Of all the things you should do each day: eat, sleep, work, exercise, and play, the one thing that Christians should do is spend time in the written word of God. Almost every Christian will agree this is important, and many have found strength and comfort in this practice, and some have taken it to detrimental extremes, but some need to be encouraged, so here are some considerations for daily devotions.
1) Commit to Daily Devotions
It’s important so it’s worth making a commitment. Most struggling Christians admit they don’t hardly ever read their Bibles. And, many mature Christians admit they could strengthen their lives with more practice in the scriptures.
Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval. They equip God’s servants so that they are completely prepared to do good things. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 GWT)
2) Make a Plan
I highly recommend getting a good readable study Bible, such as the Tyndale NLT Study Bible and reading a section or paragraph at a time to get the full context of a complete thought. For instance, today I am reading James 1:19-27.
An excellent online resource is the BibleGateway.com/reading-plans/new-testament-in-a-year, but in my personal opinion, each daily selection is too big a chunk to meditate on and apply at a time.
Another popular choice is to read a chapter of Proverbs for each day of the month. Thirty one days and 31 chapters. Choose a verse or paragraph that especially speaks to you and put it into practice today.
3) Choose a Place and Time
Since we are creatures of habit, it’s important to set aside a place and time for your devotions. You don’t need a huge block of time and you don’t need a giant spread of space. Just choose a consistent place and time. In a chair with your morning cup of coffee. At McDonald’s for your breakfast sandwich. On the train to work. At lunch before taking a walk is ideal because physical exercise and communing with God are great pick-me-ups for the middle of the day. In the evening before dinner as a refresher and gear changer from the cares of the day. Late at night when it’s quiet if you’re that kind, but don’t wait until you’re sleepy and fall asleep reading because that won’t help you at all.
4) Read, Think, Meditate, and Apply
King David spoke often of spending reading and doing the commandments of the Lord.
How can a young person stay pure?
By obeying your word.
I have tried hard to find you—
don’t let me wander from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9-11)
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
5) Begin with Prayer
There are 2 especially important promises that show we should approach God’s written word with prayer.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
6) Eliminate Distractions
This world can be filled with noise and movement, which will take your attention away from the things of God. Remember God is a still quiet voice that guides you but Satan is a roaring lion seeking to devour you. Seek the quietness to commune with God in your devotions.
7) Track Your Progress
It’s good to keep a simple diary of your thoughts. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Keep it on scraps of paper, a small steno pad, or a Moleskine notebook, or a note app on your phone. Just right it because studies have shown that the act of writing something helps you remember it.
My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:20-27)
8) Don’t Get Discouraged
If you miss your devotions a day or a week, don’t give up. God is patient and loving. He is always ready to be a part of your life.
“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. (Psalm 37:23)
9) Ask Someone to Keep You Accountable
One of my favorite ice breakers with other Christians is to ask them, “What is the Lord showing you today?” I have never been disappointed. And, usually it’s mutually uplifting.
All Christians want to please the Lord, but sometimes he feels a long way away. In those times, we need someone to be the Lord with skin on. Each of us has the opportunity to be an encouragement to one another.
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
10) Read with Observation, for Interpretation, to make Application
As you read, look for promises to claim, sins to confess, commands to do, commands to not do, examples to follow, errors to avoid, and prophecies for the future. How can you personally apply these things in your life? What will be the result of doing these things or not doing these things? For instance, read this passage and answer the questions below.
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)
What are some commands to do or not do, examples to follow, and errors to avoid?
- Do not behave like _______________
- Do not perform like _______________
- Do not think like _______________
- Find happiness in the _______________
What are some promises to claim for ?
- A godly person is like a _______________
- Which yields _______________
- Whose leaf _______________
- Whatever they do _______________
What are some applications?
- I will put more emphasis on _______________ instead of the world
- I will spend more time _______________ about the Bible
- I will _______________ the things I read instead of ignoring them