When I was a child, my dad used to begin our family’s day with Scripture reading. But as I got older, my parents stressed the importance for me to have my own devotion time. However, I am embarrassed to admit that in middle school and my first two years of high school, I slacked off. At church I remember our pastor telling us that listening to him preach wasn’t enough; we needed to read the Bible ourselves and study it. In response to his words, I would feel guilty, tell myself I would become consistent in daily devotions, and then try it for a few days before sizzling out or just not trying at all.
When I look back at those years I spent not studying God’s Word, I think about how spiritually dry that time was. When we do not form a habit of studying God’s Word, we forget. As my heart and mind were not being filled with Scripture, I could no longer recall facts about different people in the Bible, and my walk with Christ became distant.
When I was a junior in high school, God convicted me. Here I was living a life similar to that of a Pharisee. I was outwardly obeying God and prideful because of it, but inwardly I was doing nothing to cultivate growth. So, I started reading my Bible again and was amazed by how much I was learning and changing. I have now continued with personal, daily devotions, and it has helped me grow in my walk with the Lord more than ever before. Personal, daily devotion time has caused me to learn valuable lessons:
It will not make Him love me more or less.
Often times I find that I try to read the Bible, pray, or obey God, because I want Him to love me more. This is such a twisted view of who God is. I cannot earn God’s favor by doing good works, and I fear that having wrong motives can confuse His love for salvation. Reading the Bible on a daily basis is not a tradeoff for salvation, but it is something that God desires for me in order to grow. When I read God’s Word, I learn more about Him and who He wants me to be (Ephesians 2:8-9, Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2).
God’s Word convicts.
Growing in my walk is sometimes painful. When I read the Bible I am convicted of my sin, and I have found that the more I study God’s Word, the more I truly see what a sinner I am. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” This verse is so true.
Furthermore, while I believe group Bible study and Sunday school are beneficial to believers, I also believe it is necessary to spend time alone in silence in the Word of God. Reading the Bible alone provides a unique opportunity to listen to God. The good news is that when I repent of my sins, God’s grace is deep, and He forgives and forgets my sins (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Timothy 4:13, Micah 7:18-19, Psalm 103:12, Ephesians 1:7).
What if I just don’t feel like it?
I have had many Christian friends say, “Sometimes I am so busy, and I don’t have this deep hunger to read the Bible like my pastor talks about. What do I do?” If you feel this way, you are not alone. I believe it is a battle to read our Bibles. Satan can easily tempt us to think of every reason not to read: a busy schedule, shame, or anger at God.
When I know I should read my Bible, but I feel every reason not to, I pray and ask God to help me to have the desire. Then, I pray as I read His Word that He will give me a focused and obedient mind.
What helps me with devotions is I find a time in the day that I know I can stick with. Next, I find a quiet place to read. I pick a book in the Bible to go through and will read a passage or chapter(s), depending on the book. Using a study Bible or commentaries has also helped me in understanding passages. Ultimately, the most important tool to understanding the Bible is a willing heart and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
What are some tips that have helped you in your personal devotion time?