When I was younger, I remember asking a lot of people what they ‘did for their devotions.’ I knew a daily quiet time was important and I wanted to do it well. I think I knew even then that there was no right way or wrong way, so I was on the hunt for more good ideas. I wanted to know what more mature Christians (aka ‘grown ups’!) did, and how I could get better at it. My aim was to learn from those who were farther ahead in their faith journey.
It is many years later now and my routine has changed a number of times over those years. (Even the name – does anyone use the word ‘devotions’ anymore? It sounds old school to me, but devoting time each day to devote yourself to the one who is devoted to you… it could work… If I do write it on my list of things to do in a day, I just write Bible, and know what that all encompasses.) Currently I have a stack of books together with my Bible, and I want to share my routine with you. My goal in writing is to encourage those of you who want to walk closer with God. I hope that getting a glimpse into a different routine will revive your own time with God a bit. I’ll be wanting to hear about what you do, too, to spark a change in mine!
The Two Must Haves
The two essentials are reading the Bible and praying. Time with God is time to communicate. We want to hear from him, and we do that by reading the Word and simply listening. We also want to talk to him, confessing, asking, praising, and thanking him. There are so many ways to read God’s Word, and so many ways to pray. If we make trying new ways a part of our habit, we can’t help but see God in a new light. If we seek him, we will find him when we seek him with all our hearts (ref). Changing up my devotion routine has been helpful in my life to get me out of ruts or to adapt to changing seasons of life.
Is there a right way or a wrong way?
There is no one right way to spend time with God. He made each of us differently, so there are probably as many ways to communicate with him as there are individuals! Is there a wrong way? Even if you are simply checking off the chapters out of duty, or throwing up a few prayers while you hustle through your list for the day, I don’t believe that time is wasted. Certainly there can be, and maybe even should be a change, but that will depend on your heart’s attitude. A good way to check is to do an honest self evaluation.
- Why am I reading the Bible? Praying?
- Do I feel like I should be doing something differently?
- What would I like my time with God to look like?
- What do I think God wants from me? Is that based on truth?
My Current Routine
Here are the books I’ve got on my little bookshelf by the comfy chair in the office, and what I do with them.
It’s been a while since I’ve read the entire thing in a year (hard to do when you have littles in the house), so this year I am attempting that. I use a guide from Canadian Bible Society that is on it’s 4th time around and showing its age. It means a few chapters a day and this time I’m actually doing the OT and NT readings in order. Other times I have just used it to mark off books as I’ve finished them. I started last June and am roughly on track, but am not stressing about it. I often have time for two days of readings, and it makes up for the days I don’t get to it.
I write often, but not every day. When I do, it is written to God. Sometimes a rambling list of things on my heart that I need to turn over to God’s care. If I’m in a mood, I find it helps to write out what I’m feeling and why, and the process of doing this TO God helps me sort out the answers and identify any lies I’m believing. His Holy Spirit lives IN us, you guys! It’s not so crazy to believe that if we need an answer or help with something, He will answer and help! He is WITH US. So close. I find the journal helps slow down my thoughts to the speed of the pen so I can focus. This has been a constant part of my routine since I was young.
This is also where I will interact with what I read in the Bible. I have been using the SOAP method lately and find it’s helpful for digging deeper. SOAP stands for Scripture, Observations, Application, Prayer. At the back of my journal is where I have my prayer lists for all the people and things I want to remember to pray for.
This beautiful old map print notebook is where I write down things that I’m grateful for. I had started one a long time ago, and this is my second book now. (If you haven’t read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts yet,I would recommend it as a eye opener about how much gratitude matters in our lives.) I write in this one maybe a couple of times a month, sometimes in spurts. I like to have this separate from my regular journal to keep it all collected together – it’s pretty awesome to read back through it and be reminded how much good there is around us.
I know one of the best things I can do for my husband is to pray for him. For years I used a print out of ’31 things to pray for your husband’ that I found on a blog somewhere. At some point I found this book and switched over. There are so many different areas of their lives that can be prayed about, and I like using a resource for this so I don’t get stuck on just a few. Each chapter has her comments and backstory on the topic, then there is a prayer, then a handful of verses. The first time through I read it all; now I usually just skip right to the prayer. (This book and the next are by Stormie Omartian.)
I wanted to list it separately because it addresses an area that has been important to me for a long time. I have a daughter, a son, 17 nieces and nephews, their friends, and three compassion children that I am committed to praying for. So when I pick up this book, I deliberately say each of their names before I pray what’s written in the pages. I believe that reading / praying a prayer that someone else has written can be powerful. God absolutely can use other people to help us pray. She incorporates a lot of Scripture in her prayers, and there is great power in that.
40 Days to a Joy Filled Life
I sometimes have struggled with enjoying life, especially in some challenging times we’ve gone through. I found The 4:8 Principle – The Secret to a Joy Filled Life by Tommy Newberry at my library. It’s all about Philippians 4:8 (Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about these things.) (I have two great print of the verse here.) It was a helpful read for me, so I picked up this 40 day version. It breaks the book up into bite size chunks. I don’t get into this one lots, but having it handy helps when I need some reminders to get my thinking back in check.
Scripture Art Journal
This is a beautiful journal that my daughter gave me one Christmas. I started to use it to creatively write out verses in. Doodling (or colouring) Scripture is a great way for your mind to dwell on the words and the meaning.
So this is my current routine. I find overall I am fairly regular at getting my God time in in the morning before much else. Some days it’s shorter that I like and other days it just doesn’t happen. Some days I read and write and pray in peace, and some days I do a small chunk of reading and then just pray as I go throughout my day. I’ve learned not to stress about it. I know it’s something I need, and so I make it a priority. At this stage in life, keeping the kid alive and loved is sometimes all you can accomplish in a day, and I think God sees that as devotion to Him, too.
Would you comment and let me know what your routine looks like? Like I said, I am always open to learning new ways to get closer to my God!
Thanks for reading,
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