On Ramps to Spiritual Growth: Personal Devotional Habits
God wants a RELATIONSHIP with us, so he can shape our IDENTITY, & prepare us for ETERNITY. This relationship is possible through Christ sacrificial death, which reconciles us to God by wiping away sin, which broke that relationship. God invites us into this relationship through His REVELATION of Himself. He reveals Himself to us through the beauty & order of creation, through the person & work of Jesus Christ, through His activity in our lives as we seek Him through prayer, through His Word, & through His work in & through other believers. We grow in this relationship by the habits we form. These habits will include Personal Worship (John 4:24), Private Prayer (Matthew 6:16-18), & Bible Reading & Devotion (Joshua 1:8). Devotional habits serve as On Ramps to Spiritual Growth & Transformation.
God didn’t spell out the perfect formulas for our devotional habits. It never says in the Bible, “Spend 15 minutes a day reading the Bible, pray for 10 minutes, read a daily devotional published by reputable publisher, then listen to a worship song or two before you go to work.” He’s left that up to each of us individually to determine the best ways to develop our relationship. When my devotional life is dry, sometimes it helps me to ask a few growing Christians what they do to connect with God. So, in hopes that it will be helpful to someone, here’s my current pattern or habit that takes 45 minutes to 1 hour each day. I hope you’ll share yours as well.
- Wake up early. I’m a morning person, so I enjoy the early AM hours. It all goes down hill after 8am to me. Ha.
- Journaling. I start my day with writing prayers & commitments of devotion to God. (see my post Morning Prayers).
- Reading Scripture. I follow the One Year Bible Plan on Youversion.com. It’s a simple plan that allows you to read the Bible through in a year & the Psalms twice in a year. (See my post How to Get a Grip on the Bible for answers to questions about the Bible & a how to get started reading the Bible).
- Journaling. As I’m reading I write down the verses that jump out at me. When I’m done reading I read back through those verses & write down any Observations, Applications, or Prayers. (See the SOAP method). (Also, check out my post Allowing the Teachings of Jesus to Go Deep, for a plan to Journal through the sermon on the mount. Serves as a great introduction to journaling through the scriptures).
- Devotional Reading. I usually read a devotional of some kind each day as well. This year I’m reading A Year with C. S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Others that I’ve enjoyed have been My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry Blackaby, 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leaders Day by John Maxwell.
- Daily News feed. I also use Feedly.com to follow a lot of authors, pastors, networks, & news sites that inspire & inform me.
- Sharing. As I’m reading, I’m asking is there anything that I’d like to share with friends or family, with my church, or with my social media networks. As well as tagging & filing anything that may be helpful for my upcoming speaking & preaching schedule.
- Intercession. I keep a list of people & situations that I want to pray for everyday. It includes my family, the leaders of my church, the team I work with, & others. I’m committed to make time to pray for them. Sometimes that happens in the mornings during my devotions. Sometimes its later in the day. Like at 10:02am when my alarm goes off reminding me to pray for laborers (see Luke 10:2).
Roll with the punches. I wish I could say this all happens everyday. Work, sickness, oversleeping, my poor time management happens, so I plan on rolling with the punches. Some tools we have to help with that:
- Technology. When I don’t have time to read in the mornings. I can listen to my Bible plan using the Bible App during my commute. My newsfeed & devotional is also on Kindle, so I can read it during spare moments of the day.
- Grace. Remember that my salvation is not based upon my ability to read the Bible everyday. Only Jesus saves. Devotional habits are tools for our growth in grace. Don’t give up. The life we have is ETERNAL, so missing a day every now & then does not mean losing.
- Presence. God is not with me only when I’m reading the Bible & praying. God is with me all the time. I can stay connected with him through prayer all day long.
- Tomorrow. One of my favorite sayings is, “YESTERDAY ENDED LAST NIGHT.” The bible says, “God’s mercies are new every morning” Lamentations 3:23-24. If you miss a day of devotional habits, put it behind you, celebrate the grace & presence that you did experience that day, & let that build anticipation for tomorrow or when you can restore your habits.
Jesus said, “Man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. Devotional habits are as important to the Christian as food & drink. They are one of the primary On Ramps in our Spiritual Growth & Maturity. Work out a plan that works for you, figure out how to do it everyday, commit to it for life, & roll with the punches.
What are some tools that you use in your devotional life? What is your daily pattern?