Many of us, around the start of a new year, set goals or renew our determination to be better about spending time with God daily. But sometimes by February, you may be feeling discouraged, or wonder "Am I doing this right?" or "Is this how it's supposed to be?"
We recently interviewed each of the pastors on staff and asked them a few questions about their devotional life. Their answers may surprise you - and hopefully will encourage you!
What time of day do you have your devotions?
Jason: Morning. I get coffee and head right to it, otherwise I get too distracted with life.
Trey: In the mornings. Right after getting up, I get my coffee, I then go into my office, sit at my desk, and begin my devotions. I must do them first thing or the rest of the day presses in and I can get distracted and miss them.
Tyler: At night. Usually around 9:30pm once the kids and wife are in bed and the house is quiet.
What do your devotions consist of?
Jason: It varies a bit, but there is always a time of prayer and a time of reading in the Bible. Sometimes an added study book, sometimes I’ll journal and sometimes I’ll use specific prayer cards. I don’t really like Bible reading plans so where I’m reading has some variance as well.
Trey: I am currently reading and praying through a psalm, using Donald Whitney’s pattern in his book Praying the Bible. I then take time to think through the previous day and see where I can see the hand of God, and thank him for everything from a good night’s sleep, a beautiful day, to specifically answered prayer. I end with any areas of intercession in my life, family and church that has not been covered earlier in praying through the psalm.
Tyler: Bible reading and prayer, usually some worship music in the background
Do you have any resources that you regularly use, in addition to the Bible?
Trey: Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney
Tyler: Nope, just reading through the Bible
How long do your devotions typically last?
Jason: Ideally 45 minutes
Trey: I plan for an hour. It may not always last the full hour, but try to always have bible reading and expressing thanksgiving when the time is shorter.
Tyler: About 30 minutes
What helps you maintain consistency in having your devotions each day?
Jason: Always the same time and always the same place. I’m reminded of Moses meeting the Lord for the first time on the mountain in the burning bush and after that Moses keeps going back to the mountain to meet the Lord. Looking at a specific place and knowing that God has met me there helps me think “I want to go back and meet God there.”
Trey: I go to the same place each morning, where my bible is, my chair, and my desk with a coaster for my coffee. I resist looking at email, as that can draw me in to time that gets used in responding, or at least thinking about those topics, and then it is difficult for me to focus.
Tyler: Setting aside that time - making it a part of my daily plan, giving it a specific time in the day and making it part of my evening routine each night.
How do you fight unbiblical thinking (condemnation/guilt or apathy/license) when you don't have your devotions?
Jason: I seek to have an ongoing awareness that my standing before God doesn’t change based on my performance but also that my struggle with sin increases when I’m not consistently spending time with the Lord. Holding those two truths in tension helps fuel my desire to spend time with the Lord and helps me see my need for God TODAY and spending time with God bolsters my strength for everything I need today.
Trey: I more look at my devotional time as an opportunity to be with God and miss it when I oversleep rather than feeling guilty. That has not always been the case for me, but as I have seen more of God in his word, and experienced his grace in meeting me in times of need, my desire to be with him has grown.
Tyler: One thing that’s helpful in fighting apathy is keeping a steady stream of music throughout the day that reminds me of God (radio, phone, etc) and that helps me not forget about God and meeting with him and my need to spend intentional time with him each day. Keeping my thoughts God-ward throughout the day helps me not just go to bed and skip my devotions. Also, working on scripture memorization (I keep a specific verse in my pocket) - that reminds me that I need and want to go back to the Word at the end of the day.
Next week we will hear what Aaron, Rich and Adam shared about their devotions!