The Purpose of the Devotional in the Worship Service

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Our worship services traditionally start with a time of singing, followed by a devotional. This short time before Sunday school serves as an appetizer and whets our appetite to the things of God again. It is therefore important that the devotional leader spend time to prepare thoughts that will inspire us and cause us to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Webster’s gives this definition for devotional: “a short worship service.” Devotions at church should be just that—a mini worship service inside of the complete worship service. It should be a brief time focusing on Bible reading and inspiration.

Devotions is a time of worship. Worship is the feeling of love and respect that we have toward God. It renews our desire to rise above the trials and temptations of this world and continue to feed our spiritual man.

The psalmist calls us to worship in Psalm 95:6-7. “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” This scripture also tells us why we should worship. God is our sole provider. When we realize how utterly dependent on God we are, our natural response will be one of worship.

We also worship God because he is holy. “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psa 29:2).

The task of a devotional leader is a simple one. It is to call us to worship. It is his job to inspire us; to take us from the cares of this life and point us to God. He needs to help us forget the bills that need to be paid or clothes that need to be mended, and cause us instead to begin thinking about our mighty God.

The devotional is a wonderful opportunity for the laity to take part in leading the congregation in worship. It is a way for us brethren to assist in our ministry’s responsibilities. The devotional is also a great time to get some of the younger and older brethren involved. It is a blessing to see young men rise to the challenge of preparing a devotional for the first time. And it is always special, of course, to hear from the wise and experienced among us.

As a devotional leader, prepare by reading your Bible and meditating. Many times something that has inspired you in your personal devotions will make an excellent springboard for a devotional. A story or poem may be acceptable to help you develop your topic, but it should not be the main focus. It is acceptable to use a topic that relates to the Sunday school lesson, but be especially careful not to cover any ground that the Sunday school teacher may want to cover in class.

Be original. It is more inspiring to hear about what blessed you from the Bible than what your Life application Bible says about the verses you read. Also remember that to lead the congregation in worship they will need to be able to hear you. Speak up. Make sure that you speak to your audience and not to the floor or podium.
Keep it brief. You are not serving the main course, just the appetizer.

Hopefully when we come to church it is because we already have an appetite. We are hungry. We are thirsty. We have come to find food. In the devotions we begin partaking of the divine Bread and drinking the Living Water that can satisfy the hunger pangs in our souls. If, however, we come to church with no strong appetite for God’s food, the devotions should awaken our senses and help us to anticipate the feast that God has prepared for us.

~ Altoona, PA
March 2014