Last week we began to discuss the importance of having a time of personal daily devotions. Speaking on this subject, D.L. Moody said, "A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months, or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God’s boundless store of grace from day to day as we need it." That’s true.
Some of you may know that I take trumpet lessons. Currently my teacher has me working on what seems to me to be an impossible task. He wants me to be able to play two full pages of staccato quarter notes going through every imaginable key change, in one breath! I have to mark each session how far I’ve gotten before I run out of air. I am making progress.
The same thing is true with daily devotions. At first, you may not seem to be getting anywhere, but as you keep "practicing" you will discover yourself getting further and further in the practice.
Last week I gave these starting hints to help in developing good and meaningful devotions.
First, pick a consistent time for your devotions — a time that works for you.
Second, pick a quiet place for your devotions. It is so easy for the devil to distract us.
Third, pick a good Bible for your devotions, one you can read and comprehend. Don’t rely solely on devotional helps. You need to get into the Word for yourself.
Now, let’s pick up with some other helpful hints.
Fourth, start with easy passages and progress to harder ones. For example, you might want to start in the New Testament with a book like Colossians or Philippians and then move to Romans, and progress saving the book of Revelation for last. In the Old Testament, start with Psalms or Proverbs, don’t start with Ezekiel or Leviticus or you will get discouraged and quit.
Fifth, there are three questions that will help you as you study each passage. (1) What does this passage teach me about God? (2) Is there a promise in this passage I must believe? (3) Is there a command I must obey? The problem with so much of our study is that we make it only an intellectual exercise. Remember: the Bible was not given to us simply to increase our knowledge about God; it was given to us primarily to change our lives. Unless you apply what you read, you’ve missed the whole point.
Sixth, I suggest beginning each session of study with this simple prayer from David, "Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word" (Psalm 119:18, The Living Bible).
Seventh, take time to pray as well as to read. When we read the Bible, God speaks to us; when we pray we speak to God. Unless there is conversation, it will be hard to develop a meaningful relationship with God.
Remember, prayer is simply talking with God. You don’t have to be fancy, you don’t have to follow a certain pattern, just talk to God the way you would a friend — after all, Jesus did tell us that he calls us friend didn’t he? (See John 15)
Time alone with God is crucial to Christian growth. Go to him everyday in prayer. Read your Bible daily. Obey what he tells you to do. Witness every chance you get. (Remember a witness is someone who tells what they’ve experienced; what they know).
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. He can be heard Thursdays on the radio on WMVV 90.7 (FM) at 8:30 p.m.