Many people view the Christian life as a long list of “do’s” and “don’ts.” They haven’t yet discovered that spending time with God is a privilege that we get to do and not a chore or obligation that we have to do.
Getting started with daily devotions takes only a bit of planning. There’s no set standard of what your regular devotional time should look like, so relax and take a deep breath. You’ve got this!
These steps are meant to help you put together the basics of a solid foundation in a custom plan that’s right for you. Within 21 days–the time it takes to form a habit–you’ll be well on your way to exciting new adventures with God.
10 STEPS TO PURPOSEFUL DAILY DEVOTIONS
Decide On a Time.
If you view your time spent alone with God as an appointment to be kept in your daily calendar, you will be less apt to miss or skip it. There is no right or wrong time of day. I prefer having my devotions first thing in the morning as this is the least likely time of day for an interruption. I seldom receive a call from a friend at 6:00 a.m. Whatever time of day you choose, let it be the best time of day for you. Perhaps a lunch break fits better into your agenda.
Decide On a Place.
Finding the right place is key to your success. If you try to spend quality time with God lying in bed with the lights off, failure is inevitable. I decided to make a place specifically for my devotions. I chose a comfortable chair with a good reading light. Next to it I put a basket with all of my “tools” – my Bible, pen, journal, devotional book and reading plan. When I get up in the morning, I simply go to my place and everything is ready.
Decide On a Time Frame.
Once again, there is no standard time frame for personal devotions. You have to decide how much time you can realistically commit to each day. Getting started with 15 minutes a day can quickly develop into more. Some people can commit to 30 minutes, others an hour or more a day. Start with a realistic goal that you feel you can meet. If you aim too high with a plan of two hours a day, failure to hit the mark will quickly discourage you.
Decide on a General Structure.
Spend some thought on a general structure for your devotional and how much time you’ll spend on each element of your plan. Think of this as an outline or agenda for your meeting, so you don’t wander about aimlessly in thought and end up accomplishing nothing. The next four steps will cover some of the typical elements you can include.
Choose a Bible Reading Plan or Bible Study.
This may take some time, but choosing a Bible reading plan or study guide will help you have a more focused time of reading and study. If you pick up your Bible and start reading randomly each day, you may have a difficult time understanding or applying what you’ve read to your daily life.
Spend Some Time in Prayer.
Prayer is simply two-way communication between you and God. Talking to him, telling him about your struggles and cares, and then listening to his voice. Some Christians don’t realize prayer includes listening. Remember to give God time to speak to you in his still small voice (1 Kings 19:12, NKJV). Also, one of the loudest ways God speaks to us is through his Word. Spend time meditating on what you read and letting God speak into your life.
Spend Some Time in Worship.
God created us to praise him. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people … belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (NIV) You can express your praises silently or declare them in a loud voice. There is no right or wrong way. You may even want to sing a song of worship in your devotional time.
Consider Spending Time Writing in a Journal.
Many Christians find that journaling helps them stay on track during their devotional time. You can journal your thoughts and prayers, providing a valuable record. Later you will be amazed and encouraged when you go back and note the progress you’ve made or see the evidence of answered prayers. Journaling is not for everyone. I suggest you give it a try and see if it’s right for you. Some of us go through seasons of journaling as our relationship with God changes and develops. Journaling may not be right for you now, but consider attempting it again in the future.
Commit to Follow Your Daily Devotional Plan.
Keeping your commitment is probably the hardest part of getting started. Determine in your heart to stay the course, even when you fail or miss a day. Rather than beating yourself up when you mess up, just pray and ask God to help you. And, be sure to start over the next day. The rewards you will experience as you grow deeper in love with God will be worth it.
Be Flexible and Willing to Make Changes to Your Plan.
If you get stuck in a rut, try going back to step 1. Perhaps the plan you’ve chosen is not right for you. Change it up until you find the perfect fit.
A FEW TIPS
Keep working on your daily devotional plan for 21 days. By then it should become a habit.
Pray for God to give you the desire and the discipline to spend time with him each day.
Don’t give up. Eventually, you will discover the joys and blessings of your obedience.
If you are married, consider developing a couple’s devotional plan.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
A Pen or Pencil
A Notebook or Journal
A Bible Reading Plan
A Bible Study or Study Aid
A Quiet Place
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