Merry Monday, Peeps! I hope your weekend was excellent!
Today’s post is about some ways you can enrich your personal devotion time. A quiet time alone with God and His Word is essential to the growth of every Christian, and so I decided to share some things that have helped me make the most of my devotion time.
#1: Confess sin to God.
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: sin will always put a barrier between you and God, saved by grace or not. Everything from the everyday, I-shouted-at-my-sister variety of sin to the I-just-punched-my-boss-in-the-face-and-cussed-him-out-like-there’s-no-tomorrow kind will put a separation between us and God. But simple confession is the beautiful battering ram that destroys the wall that we build when we sin. So, first things first, destroy everything between you and God.
#2: Ask for the Holy Spirit to help you.
Such boundless blessings can be found in the Holy Spirit. Guys, He’s the Spirit of God living inside every believer, and He’s here to help us, guide us, and grow us. We have access to the One who holds all knowledge and wisdom and power, and just humbly asking for His help as we seek Him will deepen our time in the Word of God. My favorite verse to pray at the start of my devotions is Psalm 119:18 which says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things from Your law.”
#3: Set enough time aside.
The time you spend alone with God is the most important part of your day. Whether you realize it or not, there is nothing that you will do that is more important than meeting with God to know and serve Him better. So don’t skimp on your time with Him. I’m not saying you have to spend two hours in the intense Bible study every day. I am saying that fifteen minute leftovers at the end of the day when you’re half asleep are not enough. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: morning is the best time to study God because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Strive to be intentional about how much time you invest in your personal relationship with Christ. Fifteen minutes is good. Half an hour is often better (as a general rule, the longer, the better; I say a general rule because the Holy Spirit can do some pretty amazing things in a short amount of time).
#4: Go somewhere quiet.
Setting up to do a devotion in the living room while the cats decide it’s time to loudly battle to the death is setting up for a distraction-filled devotion where, more likely than not, not much will be learned. Go somewhere quiet and secluded. My favorite spots are my bedroom and my study with a fan on to block out background noise.
Bonus tip: tell your family that you’re going to do your devotions and ask them not to disturb you unless it’s an emergency.
#5. Turn your phone on silent.
I’m not talking about vibrate; I’m talking about silent. The little dings or vibrations whenever someone likes a Tweet, comments on your latest Instagram photo, or texts you about what they ate for breakfast are distractions that will pull your focus off of God. Trust me, even if you don’t read that text, it’ll be there in the back of your mind.
Here’s how it works for me if I don’t silence my phone:
Phone: buzz buzz
Me: *looks up from Bible reading* Ah, I have some sort of notification. No matter, I’ll read it later.
Me: I wonder if it’s a text… No! I’m focusing on my devotions! Get behind me, Satan!
Me: *rubs chin* I could always just look at it real fast and then jump right back into my quiet time.
True story, guys. If, by chance, you are not married to your phone like most people are these days, then good for you! But chances are, you’re a human like the rest of us, and so the good ol’ phone will only serve to take your mind off what’s really important (aka: God). So put it on silent.
#6: Listen to/sing a song or two to start.
This is something that helps me get into the “time with God” mindset. We sing songs at church before we hear the sermon; why not sing a few songs before we open our Bibles to study for ourselves? I have found (at least in myself) that this fosters an attitude of worship and helps me focus on God. Sometimes I listen to a couple songs. Sometimes I sing from my hymnal. Sometimes I play a song or two on my ukulele. *shrug* It helps me; maybe it’ll be beneficial for you too.
#7: Write down your findings/observations/thoughts in a notebook.
Some people tell me, “Well, Rosalie, I’m not a writer, and so I don’t find it helpful to write things down during my devotions.”
To which I feel compelled to reply: “That’s nice. So you have perfect recall?”
Okay, now, maybe it is just because I’m a writer, but it seems to me that when we actually want to learn something, we take notes. These don’t have to be elaborate, just a few sentences or words about what you found in the passage that day. Part of it is that writing things down forces us think harder; instead of just some vague feelings and notions, we can end up with a few solid points. Before you write off (tehehehe) notetaking, please at least try it. Days when I take write down what I’m learning from Scripture are often some of the days when I come away from my devotions with a clearer view of God and His Word.
#8: Be intentional about figuring about the application in your life.
Now, you’ve spent half an hour (or more) singing, praying, reading and meditating on the Word (and taking notes, right? Right?!?), and it comes down to this question: what now? How will this time with God affect your life? How will you live differently because of this time in worship and study? This is where your alone time with God meets how you’ll interact with your family, how you’ll do your job, how you’ll work on school, and how you’ll bring glory to the name of Christ. This is perhaps one of the most important and also one of the hardest parts of devotions. It’s a good idea to ask the Spirit for help again as you try to sort through what you’ve learned and how to apply it to your life. Honestly, your time studying Scripture is all but wasted if you don’t do something with it.
#9: Don’t skimp on the prayer time.
Typically, I open in prayer (confession and asking for the Holy Spirit’s help), sing a few songs (heart prep and worship), read and meditate on the passage (learning), figure out how I’m supposed to live in light of it (that darned application that’s so hard sometimes), and then I close in prayer. For the longest time, I spent 24 minutes in study, four minutes (at least) being distracted, and then two minutes hastily wrapping things up in prayer. Now, I sometimes still do this, but I’m starting to be better carving out a good amount of time (remember #3 about enough time?) so that I can spend more time in prayer, and my time with God has been so rich because of all the two-way communication (song = me to God, study = God to me, prayer = back and forth conversation).
Bonus tip: pray aloud; this can help keep you from getting distracted by the rabbit trails your brain likes to go down (example: I once went from praying in my head about a friend to remembering that that friend had a blog to thinking about my own blog to trying to figure out what I was going to post that week all in the space of thirty seconds. True story.)
And that’s all I got, kids.
Those are nine things that have helped me get more out of my devotion time, and I hope they help you too. As you may have noticed, a lot of them had something to do with focus and eliminating distractions because I can get distracted so easily (oh, look, frosted animal crackers! Wait, what?).