Most Christ-followers intuitively feel that daily devotional time is something that should be part of their every day life…
But it’s not that easy, is it? There’s a ton of truly important things that compete for your time…
- Work & career demands
- School schedules & homework
- Household responsibilities (meal prep, laundry, vacuuming, etc.)
- Family relationships
- Church attendance & service
- Extra-curricular activities at school
- and the list goes on, and on, and on…
In a legitimately busy life, how do you make time for Quiet time (daily devotional)? And once you make the time, how do you make it count?
It begins with mindsets
As someone once told me,
Let that sink in. I believe it’s true.
You see it proved true over and over again in the “normal” course of life:
- If sports is important to you, you’ll make sure you’re schedule is clear so that you can watch the game. You might even make sure your kids are involved in sports, too.
- If fishing is important to you, you’ll plan and carry out fishing trips on a fairly regular basis.
- If work is important to you, you’ll be on time, diligent, and possibly even work more and later than you should.
You get the point, because it’s true. The same holds true for your daily devotional time…
If your daily devotional time with God were truly important to you, you’d make sure you didn’t miss it.
Why is your daily devotional not that important?
In 20 years of pastoral ministry, and continued marriage & family coaching, I’ve come to see one main reason Christ-followers don’t devote themselves to daily time with the LORD:
They don’t see the vital benefits that daily devotional time with the LORD provides.
Daily time with Jesus is indispensable, because He IS your life. Did you hear that? Jesus IS your life!
This responsibility-packed rat race you call life, is NOT your life. It’s the things you do with your life. Jesus is your life. His essence, His person is what comprises all that you are and are to be. Does it make much sense to neglect the very thing that will give you life?
I don’t care how busy your life (or my life) truly is, you cannot survive a day (in a God honoring way) without communing with Jesus. I know, that’s an extreme statement, but I believe it with all my heart. We, as sin-stained people, are unable to live the kind of life we need to live, day in and day out, without the enlivening power of Jesus, and we’ll be unable to tap into that power, if we are not daily drawing near to Him. Jesus said it best…
Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Our lives amount to ZERO without us “abiding” in Him.
What does that word “abide” mean:
Daily devotional time is not about practicing:
- Bible reading
- other spiritual disciplines
Daily devotional time is about abiding… making a connection with Jesus that goes with you throughout the day.
Bible reading, prayer, meditation, etc. may be the means you use to draw near to Jesus (and most times, should be), but they are not the goal you should be aiming for. Your goal, in every daily devotional time, should be to draw near to your Savior, who is your life (Colossians 3:4).
Mindsets to help you abide
START WITH PRAYER
To get started, I’d suggest that you always, always, ALWAYS begin your daily study time with prayer.
I don’t mean that you need to take out your prayer list and pray for everyone from your spouse to your co-worker’s Aunt Ethel. I’m talking about an introductory prayer, to set your mind in the right place (Remember how important the mind is?)
My insistence that you start here is based on two scriptural principles that go together. You can think of it as connecting the dots…
- God Himself is eager to have a genuine relationship with you. He’s proved it through the gift of His Son, Jesus. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8)
- God has promised that if you ask for anything He wants, He will give it. (1 John 5:14-15)
So… If God wants a relationship with you even more than you do (the first point), and if He has promised to give you the things He wants when you ask Him for them (the second point), then it makes perfect, divine, powerful sense that the most important thing you can do to establish a consistent and meaningful time with the LORD is to ask Him for it each day as you begin seeking Him.
Plead – Beg – Ask – Seek – Knock – Pursue – Beseech (there’s a King James word for you) – and don’t do it in a “wishful” sort of way (I sure wish this would happen…). No, do it with CONFIDENCE! Jesus has made the way for you to go boldly before God’s throne to ask Him for the help you need…
So start out by asking God to help you every day.
Your daily devotional time with the LORD is not a race, a project, or a task where you get points for finishing early. It’s the exact opposite. You get more out of God’s truth the longer you marinate in it. Human beings can marinate… it’s called meditation. You need to take time to make that happen.
When you study the Bible you need to be taking time to understand:
- the intricacies of the situations it describes
- the logic in the arguments it makes
- the deep spiritual truths that underlie the verbiage and sentences
- the application it has to your life and relationships.
That means it may take you a few days to digest only one passage or story. It may require that you write the key verses on a card and read and ponder them throughout the day (highly recommended!). All of that is perfectly O.K. Really. You need to get out of the “get er done” mindset. It’s not important how fast you finish your scriptural meal, it’s important how much nourishment you get from it!
That means you may have to do something practical (gasp!). Make sure you schedule enough time to actually get something out of the meal. Five minutes won’t do it. Ten minutes probably won’t either.
God is worth it. Make enough time.
REMEMBER THE BIBLE IS UNLIKE ANY OTHER BOOK
You can’t simply read the Bible and “get it” immediately. You need the LORD to reveal His will and ways to you as you consider the scriptures. His thoughts are much higher than yours, as are His ways.
There’s no hope of grasping the eternal and unfathomable riches that are recorded in scriptures unless you lean on Him in childlike dependence. That ties in nicely with the prayer I mentioned previously. Only now I’m suggesting that you make it an ongoing practice as you read the scriptures.
- When you come to something you don’t get… ask God to explain it.
- When you are confused or unsettled by something… ask Him to give you insight and comfort.
Interact with God as you read the scriptures. You need His help because the book He’s given you is unlike any book you’ve ever read. You’ll find Him more than willing to help you understand.
REMEMBER THAT YOU’RE DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP
Any relationship takes time and effort, and none of them happen naturally or easily. The same is true of your relationship with the LORD. It IS a relationship… you know that, don’t you?
Your daily time with the LORD is not…
- a religious act
- a ritual
- an obligation
- a box to be checked each day…
It’s a way that you engage in relationship with God, and it needs care and intentional attention.
It’s a time to:
- and engage
because it’s part of developing a relationship… but with the living God of the universe!
MAKE IT AN APPOINTMENT
There have been a handful of times in the course of my marriage that our family has had more month than money. Does that sound familiar?
During two different seasons when we were tight financially, I took a job delivering papers early in the morning. I can remember I had to rise at 3:30 in the morning, drive 30 miles to pick up the papers, and then deliver them house to house. Because I’m pretty conscientious about work related things, I would pop out of bed when the alarm went off. It was a responsibility, and I tend to take work responsibilities pretty seriously. I was never late picking up the papers. I made it a priority. I set my mind before going to bed and when the alarm went off, I had already decided I would get out of bed.
One morning as I was out delivering papers, a new thought came to me about the struggle I’d been having in staying consistent in my daily quiet time. It went something like this…
Why is it that I am so quick to get out of bed for a job, but can’t do the same thing to meet the King of the universe?
It was a powerful question, prompted by the Holy Spirit that helped me understand the priority that my daily time with the LORD needed to be. It was a question that radically changed my thinking (remember the power of right thinking?). I intentionally began to think of my daily time with the LORD like I did work. It was something that I could not allow myself to miss.
What about you? Would a mind-shift of that kind be helpful?
You can train yourself to think of each day’s time with the LORD as an appointment, one that’s important to you. Like a business related meeting or meeting with a friend for coffee. Whatever meetings or rendezvous are important to you, realize that your daily time with God is far, FAR more important and DECIDE that you are going to treat it with the importance it deserves.
You just might be amazed at the impact it has…