Devotionals are great- especially when you are not really sure what to read or where to start in the Bible. I’ve used them for as long as I can remember. I encourage the students in our youth group to use them when they can’t seem to get into a routine for Bible reading.
However, I have a confession. I, long-time veteran for diligently using devotionals, have been feeling very disappointed by them lately. Not because of the content exactly, but because of how I feel after reading. It like reading for a boring class- I read it, but then a few seconds later it’s almost like I never even read it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t find the Bible “boring” (um, except maybe Chronicles?), it is just the devotionals that have been leaving me dry. Have you ever noticed how so many devotionals are just really superficial?
I lived like this for several months- reading devotionals each day hoping one would stand out to me and would fill me up. After months of trying, I realized I had to change something. I could not continue to let myself run dry.
I have done some thinking and here are some things I have found to be true for me. I wrote them as if advice to you, but really it’s majorly to me too.
- First and foremost: Don’t expect a devotional to carry you throughout the day. This was a huge mistake for me when I first started reading devotionals. I thought my time with God each day was simply when I was reading my Bible or a devotional. I was so wrong. God wants to walk with us throughout the entire day and be in the forefront of our minds. Doing so will allow us to lead a better life. Think you want to go off on an annoying person? No, just talk to God through it. Freaking out over all you have to do? Find peace in God’s sovereignty. Simply by speaking to God throughout my day, consistently, I began to feel so much better.
- When you go to study the Bible with or without the help of a devotional, don’t just jump right into it. This is hard for me because I succumb to the go-go-go lifestyle and don’t give or make enough time for quiet time with God. Hate to break it to you, but cracking open your devotional and reading it over a three minute period will likely not do anything for you. It is essential to take the time to pray beforehand and silence your mind to the world around you. That just can’t be done in 3 minutes. I’ve found that taking some time to listen and worship through music helps a ton in preparing my mind for Bible reading.
- Don’t keep doing something that’s not working. I’ve done this so many times. I’ve started a devotional that just wasn’t clicking with me and each day I would glaze right over the words just to get my reading in for the day. If you are like me, and like to finish what you started just to feel “accomplished”, don’t do that with this. Devotionals are not the Word of God and you don’t have to feel indebted to reading it. Put it down and seek for another.
- Be choosy– don’t just pick up a random devotional, as I’ve done so many times, especially through the Youversion app. Think about what would be meaningful to you right now where you are at. There are so many out there, look for something that speaks to you and your current stage of life. If it doesn’t work for you, go back to number 3.
- Discuss with other believers- what have they been reading lately? What’s worked for them? Not only is this a great way to get out of your own rut, but it also can bring greater support from friends on your Christian walk. Discussing what words have been beneficial to them will help you to love and understand your friends more.
- Lastly, be open-minded to what God has to tell you. Open your heart and mind and see him everywhere. He wants to see you inspired spiritually and emotionally. So many times He has put people in my life or just my day who spoke words of encouragement or words that have challenged me. Seek Him, not just though a devotional, but in every aspect of your life.
What about you? Any input or insight to share?