Daily Devotions?

I have been thinking about this for some time now.  I don’t do daily devotions.  I don’t even get up extra early to pray, I usually get up with enough time to get ready, and go to work.  I don’t read my bible in a year, I never have done that.  Most of my friends pray everyday in the morning before they go to work, they read their bibles at the same time and place everyday as well.  But I don’t.  Yet I don’t find myself to be any less spiritual than them, and I do read my bible – a lot.  I do pray, but I guess I just pray in unconventional ways.  Driving in my car, when I am walking alone.  I don’t pray every day either, sometimes I skip a day or two, I think I may have even gone a whole week without praying, same thing with my bible.  Even though I don’t read my bible daily, it seems that I know my bible better than my friends who do daily devotions.

I used to always feel really, really bad, try and discipline myself but I always failed and it just caused me to feel worthless.  As I have become older it just doesn’t bother me as much.

What is your devotional habits like?  Do you read and pray on a regular (or daily) time schedule, or are you like me, somehow it just gets done.

13 Responses

  1. I’m like you. I’ve read my Bible through, but I did it in the course of a couple of weeks, and not every book in order. I do presently read the Bible every day, but it can hardly be called devotional reading. Sometimes it will consist of me looking up a passage or two for something I’m studying. As far as praying goes, I pray as things arise. It’s not always on my mind that I have to pray about ‘this or that’ at a certain time. I really used to beat myself up about prayer, but not so much any more.

  2. I’m like you, Robert, and it’s a constant internal struggle between “what I do” and “what I ought to do” and knowing what is which.

    I’ve fought a checklist mentality to faith and practice for almost all of my life and am still not sure what the resolution is supposed to look like (for me).

  3. Oooooohhh, good question!

    I’ve always struggled with that “checklist mentality” as well, as if I let God down in some way if I didn’t get up extra early that day.

    So, I finally stopped. I pray everyday (no schedule) and read my Bible a good bit, but I’m not hung up about it. Those I have known (like myself) who have felt shamed for not taking the psamist’s advice of “early in the morning will I rise and seek thee,” have also struggled with perfectionistic tendencies in other areas as well. Gotta make God proud, you know.

    Now, my relationship is more fluid and organic. I react in prayer and study, based on my life patterns and trials I face. But now, I come to God because I want to, not because I’m compelled to keep Foster’s disciplines. Sure, it’s a means to an end, but only to the extent that it jump starts a self-sustaining love walk with the Lord. For me, once I figured out that God’s love for me doesn’t increase with my spiritual disciplines, that compulsion faded away. It was in that environment, safe from shame and guilt, that my personal devotional time flourished.

    Of course, take all of this with a grain of salt…I do find merit in the Lakeland revival, after all… 🙂

  4. I also think that this a wonderful question, as I am one who seeks to be disciplined in his relationship with the Lord.

    On the one hand, I too have experienced the “failure” of failing to get up “early” enough or spend “enough” time in prayer. However, I would say that this is something that spills into every part of my life. I need structure. Nothing gets done if I don’t make a checklist for the day. But even when I make it sometimes nothing gets done. Perfectionism is truly a curse!

    And so, at first glance or thought, I’m inclined to agree with what you guys have already mentioned. Sam you and I have talked a great deal about this. And one thing I can firmly agree on is that God wants us to seek Him for the pleasure of seeking Him and the closeness he desire rather than fulfilling a “checklist” of sorts.

    HOWEVER, I would say that the “whenever I feel like it” approach to “devotional” time sits at odd with ALL the men of God that we admire and that changed the world. Now I’m not saying that we will be or should aspire to be the next John Wesley (although, that’s not a bad aim either…). However, we should look into their lives in order to find out WHY they were who they were. And I’m forced to conclude that whoever we look into, we will find a disciplined, extensive devotional life that utilized the “disciplines” that Foster speaks of. We will find an intense focus to be with God.

    Peter was spending time with God when he received his vision in Acts. John was spending time meditating when he received his revelation. Paul prayed without ceasing. Wesley spent two hours a day (at 5:00 in the morning mind you) in prayer.

    I’m not sure you could give me one person who took such a casual approach among the “giants” of the faith. If you can please let me know.

    Now let me end by saying this and hopefully rescuing myself what may seem like religious legalism:

    What I know God wants is our hearts to be inwardly communing with Him all the moments of our life. It doesn’t have to be a set time as you guys have said. Brother Lawrence was clear in that the devotional life should be as vibrant in times of work as in times of personal prayer. Paul, again, prayed without ceasing. God wants relationship.

    But, I’m under the inclination that that vibrant life is found (at least initially) in a disciplined devotional life. Wesley called them the “means of grace.” They the roads to the end. But how can we get to the end without travelling the roads?

    Should I ignore the vast tradition that of ALL the men from the past that I look up to as examples of vibrant Christian living? I think that is unwise.

    Have I been successful in my devotional life? No. But do I give up because I fail? I don’t think so. Instead I cry out to God that He would form himself in me fully until it’s not a discpline anymore, but a compulsion out of an consuming love for my Lord.

  5. It seems like the issue is the old “which came first” scenario – discipline or relationship? And I think the situation is dependent on each person. Some need discipline to create the time to foster (no pun intended) relationship. Other’s relationship promotes a regularity in devotion that looks like a schedule.

    Should we ignore spiritual giants of the past who kept a schedule? No but I do think that much of their routine sprang from a relationally oriented style of Christianity. Otherwise we wouldn’t know their name. The biblical examples you give, though promoting devotional time, don’t say anything about Paul or Peter or anyone else keeping a schedule.

    Most of the Christians I know who struggle with this are just regular people trying to jump start a deeper walk with God. There’s nothing wrong with that. All I’m saying is that there’s a good chance that those stalwarts throughout history who have promoted the discipline already had a love walk in place. That’s what made them stalwarts.

    Where’s Robert? I thought this was his post? 🙂

  6. Nick, I probably do read my bible on a daily basis, but like you it is by way of study.

    ElShaddia, I think I the most like you, that inward struggle. I think, not sure, but I think I once heard Jack Hayford state that he does not do daily devotions, but he does make a point at least once a week to spend some real quality time with God

    Sam, I think that is what I am after, coming to God because I desire too, and not out of a sense of duty, although I think that is a good reason as well. “Lakeland revival”, didn’t you get into enough trouble with that? 😉

    Jonathan, I think you state a lot of the reasons why I feel the way I feel, and why I think about this.

    Sam, thanks for the nudge! Just too busy! ugh…

  7. I an in agreement with Jonathan that those who tend to have a strong and vibrant spiritual life (who to us seem like spiritual giants) are those who have a daily specified prayer time, and do so not out of guilt or with a checklist mentality, but out of relationship in which they have experienced God’s power through the threefold disciplines of prayer, bible reading, and (regular-weekly?) fasting.

    If it is a guilt thing then, yeah, you need to ask the Lord and your fellow Christians to help you move past all that.

    Good discussion.

  8. […] here is a good discussion on doing daily devotions. […]

  9. Hey Brian,

    I should add that at my church every Saturday we have a prayer meeting. It’s not the type where you gather together and pray, you just come to church go into the main sanctuary and just find a place to pray.

    I do this just about every Saturday, and it really has been a blessing.

    I posted what I did because I think that some people are just wired differently, and a certain way of doing things may not work, and they just have to keep pressing in until they find that right place that works.

    Now it’s hard to ignore the scriptures that tell us to get up early and pray. But I do at least once a week, but not daily.

    Also, I think that it is important that when we wake up the first thing on our mind is the Lord. We should never go a day without being mindful of his presence in our life, and that is something that I strive to do. Our thoughts/mediations should be on the Lord daily, and we should pray daily, I just think that some people like myself have found other ways of doing it that seem to work.

  10. I agree not everyone is wired the same way and so probably respond to different means of spiritual formation in different ways. I suppose it is like working out – you have to keep your muscles guessing or they won’t grow and get stronger. Do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you’ve always gotten – you’ll just plateau. So, I guess it is good to do a change up once in awhile.

  11. So now that I said what a lazy person I am, let me add the following.

    I study my bible, theology, and various other related books on an average of 2-3 hours per day. During that time I also stop to pray and mediate on what I am reading. Most it not all of the books that I read also site scriptures. This usually happens at night before bedtime, and not in the morning.

    Although I don’t do the traditional morning prayer, at least not in any intense manner. I mean I do pray in the morning but it’s very short, like less than 5 minutes (sometimes even less than that), so to me that doesn’t count.

    And it’s on the rare occasion that I go any real length of time without reading my bible, but it has happened, and I expect it will happen again (vacations, super busy at work, etc), but even then I manage to squeeze in some scriptures into my life.

    Brian I use to think it’s like working out, but is it? It would be great to hear your thoughts more on this. If I read my bible everyday say for 1/2 hour it’s going to build some sort of spiritual muscle?

    I also think that being a Christian for a long time, you have a wealth of scripture memorized, and it is easy for me to just ponder on those thoughts. I guess what I am trying to do more of is let my life become a constant where I am always mindful of God’s presences in my life, and growing in his wisdom and becoming more like Christ.

    Paul makes certain statements like “always in prayer” what does that mean? I think it means that he is constantly mindful of God’s presences in his life, and that he can pray not only out loud but in his thoughts as well.

    Well just looking for help and a better understanding of what others do, and how it may help me out.

  12. I’m just not a morning person. I do my best praying (and writing) late at night after I get the housework and dishes done and I’ve got time to myself. You can’t get to bed at three and expect to rise and shine at six. God won’t send me to hell for praying the late night shift instead of the early morning shift. Christians who judge others as lazy for sleeping later than they do are self-righteous and probably don’t get as much done.

  13. Another pertinent point: Jesus and the saints of old didn’t have electric lights to enable them to do a lot of stuff at night. I believe God is as willing to answer a prayer prayed at 6 P.M. as 6 A.M. Somt of this is a legalism issue. Rising early to be more spiritual (you may have to because of small children or a job) is like fasting. It seems to be spiritual because it’s rough on the body and makes you feel run down.

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