Lately I’ve struggled with having a set apart time of devotion to my Heavenly Father. It isn’t right. I know He is calling me to make learning about and from Him a priority in my life, but I’ve been ignoring that call. It isn’t the way I want it to be.
Today I listened to a message by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called “The Practice of a Daily Devotional Life.” (I listened to it in podcast form on iTunes.) It was actually the second message in a two-part series about the importance of a daily devotional life. I found some great tips and nuggets of wisdom in the message. In it, she laid out a few guidelines for help in making this a habit.
First, it should be regular. She challenged listeners to a 30 day devotional challenge. I’m not participating in that specific challenge (if you want to, you can sign up here), but I do think it would be a good idea to try something like that. They say if you do something 30 times in a row, it’s a habit. I’m going to challenge myself to make a devotional time a priority in my life for at least 30 days–hopefully for the rest of my life!
The second thing she said was important is that it be early in the day. And while she also said this is not set in stone, Nancy feels that it is Biblical. The idea is reinforced many times by David in the Psalms (including Psalm 57:8). One big thing in relation to this that she pointed out is that this starts the night before. Last night I didn’t get to sleep until after 11:00 and it was really hard for me to wake up at 6:30. This is another thing I’m going to challenge myself about. I need I make sure I’m getting to bed at an early enough time so that I’ll be refreshed and renewed in the morning.
It also needs to be time alone. I need to make an effort to be alone, to shut out distractions. This is very hard in my home, as we have a big family and a small house. However, I know it is possible. I can get up early, if necessary.
Along with alone time comes another big thing. Nancy says that listening to other teachers, while beneficial to and even necessary for spiritual growth, is not a substitute for this quiet devotional time of seeking the Father’s presence.
Nancy also recommends keeping a journal and writing in it each day. For me this is a great way to get my thoughts out in the open, and I love looking back at what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown over weeks, months and years.
Perhaps the biggest part of this devotional time is that we receive from our Father and respond to Him. This is so important. A big part of receiving from Him, according to Nancy, is that we look for Jesus in His Word. This is not only in the New Testament, but in the Old as well, whether it’s prophecy (Isaiah) or allegory (Abraham and Isaac). Also key in responding to Our Father and to His Word is that we worship. Nancy recommends praying back Scripture to Him. The Psalms are great for this. I need to take time and worship God each day, repeating again his wonders.
This was an important reminder for me and a wake up call: “Anything that crowds God out of my life is an idol.” By this measurement, I have many idols, including the internet, my iPod and Pinterest. It isn’t that these things aren’t wonderful in their place, it’s just that in my life, they aren’t in their place. If I have time to spend over an hour on Pinterest, but ‘don’t have time for worship,’ something is wrong.
I’ll close with this quote from Nancy’s message.
“It is impossible for us to be the men and women God designed us to be in relationship with Him, apart from having a consistent devotional habit.”
I highly recommend listening to the message and really any or all of her others. Her words are challenging but encouraging and she speaks specifically to women. Her ministry, Revive Our Hearts, provides many resources for women to grow in their The Lord.
From now until the end of February, I will, with the Lord’s help, be challenging myself to aside time each morning to spend in prayer and Bible reading. I’ll do my best to post updates to let you know how I’m doing. Hopefully this won’t end in February! :) I pray that this is the beginning of a life-long practice.
Will you join me as I challenge myself to make this devotional time a priority in my life? Let me know in the comment section! If you’re going to be blogging about it, leave a link to your blog post and I’ll link to it in my next update.