Have you ever sat with eyes glazed staring at the Bible as your thoughts wandered? Perhaps you have fallen asleep during your evening prayer time. Maybe you remember reading through 2 Chronicles and finding it a chore. It is even possible that your regular chapter-a-day routine has dried up, and you wonder what happened to the life you used to get from your daily time with God.
It’s not that the Bible is unimportant. God’s Word is our road map, telling us how to pattern our lives. It is our judge. Hebrews reminds us, “For the Word of God is quick [alive], and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” We can conclude then that the problem does not lie with the Word of God.
Perhaps the problem lies with the key word in our title, devotion. What does devotion mean? The dictionary defines it as, “An act of prayer or private worship, a religious exercise or practice other than the regular corporate worship.” Private worship—both words are important. It’s not something that happens at church. It’s something private, something that requires effort from us instead of leaning on the work of others. It is also worship. It is connection with God. It is pausing before the Creator of the universe and worshipping Him. That perspective changes things already. However, the truth is even deeper than that.
In Acts 17, Paul seemingly commended the men of Athens on their devotion. He took the opportunity as he passed by to behold their “devotions … to the unknown god.” This, of course, he used to point them to the one true God. But even as the men of Athens had altars at which they worshipped, we also do. What altar is at the core of my life? Twenty minutes a day in the Word will do little for a man whose life is wrapped up in money, prestige, lust, pleasure seeking, or worry. We cannot really worship at an altar that we have not set up. What am I worshipping? What means more to me than God? What have I wrapped up my life in?
Christ, when tempted by the devil in the wilderness, said, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” How did Enoch come to the place that he was taken home by God without death? It is said of him that he “walked with God.” I believe he had that personal day by day relationship with God; he knew God as a close friend. He hungered and thirsted after righteousness. Do we have that same hungering and thirsting to know God?
As we build our lives around God, we will know His desire to fellowship with us. As we hunger and thirst after Him, we will be filled with a desire to fellowship with Him. “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1Jo 1:3). “My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD” (Psa 104:34). “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1Pe 2:2).
People whose hearts are fixed on God find personal devotions non-negotiable. Oh, you might have to skip a meal, you might have to be late for work, you might have to get less sleep or rearrange your schedule, but what of it? Time with God is more important than any temporal duty.
During this special time with God, you will find a time and place of minimal distraction. You will devour the Word of God, putting forth every effort of your mind to understand God’s message. You will plead with God to grant you understanding. You will read aloud if it aids your focus. You will walk around if sitting doesn’t work. You will grab out the Strong’s Concordance or bible dictionary. This is an important message! You will say with the psalmist, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psa 63:1).
What can you do to get the most possible edification from the Word of God?
Read thoughtfully and prayerfully. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God … rightly dividing the word of truth” (2Ti 2:15).
Read till you understand. It is amazing how much more can be found in a chapter if you read it over and over.
Memorize Scripture. Not only will new truths stand out to you as you continue to repeat the same material, but it will be stored in your mind to aid you against temptation.
Immerse yourself in the Bible. God never said that a chapter a day is all a Christian should read. read several chapters. Read a whole book if you have the time! Someone has written that many Christians spend more time reading the newspaper than they do reading the Bible. Why not take out an hour in the evening to relax and read the Bible?
Keep a devotional journal. As you consider what to write, you will better process what you have read. If you have a hard time finding the drive to keep a journal, ask someone to check in on you and read it from time to time. Of course, there will be family emergencies. There will be times of physical illness. There will be times of upset schedules, emotional weariness, or even spiritual dryness. There will be times when glossy magazines or interesting books tempt us to turn aside. Such things attend the journey of life. These things will not dissuade us if our eyes are on the goal. We will seek God’s guidance to help us find time for personal devotions in the midst of life’s emergencies. We will keep seeking, if we seem not to be finding new truths at the moment. We will steadfastly put the Word of God over other distractions. It may seem to make little difference today, but the days will add up to a destiny.
Allow me to quote from the instruction book, Christian Living and Church Membership: “As the Gemini IV spacecraft orbited the earth at thousands of miles per hour, Edward White made his historic spacewalk, leaving the space capsule for 21 minutes. He thereby became a human satellite of the earth. The one conspicuous piece of equipment with him was a lifeline between the space capsule and his body. This line supplied the needed oxygen for his survival. The lifeline was also a restraint so that if something went wrong, he would not continue to helplessly orbit the earth. That lifeline was a most needed link for his assured survival.” What is the only way the Christian can survive? We must give God our personal devotion both in our time of private bible study and in every aspect of our lives.