Why I Make Music a Part of My Devotions

In a previous post, I mentioned that I sing songs during my personal devotions, and this week is about why I’ve made music a part of my quiet time.

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Music is a gift given to help us communicate deep thoughts and truths that we otherwise struggle to grasp or say, and music written for worship is a way to give God praise, to use our breath and our being to exalt the Most High. Songs are prayers set to melodies, outpourings of the human soul before the throne of the living God.

Music is beautiful.

I believe that music has power, and I believe that the Holy Spirit uses music to move and thaw hearts. He uses it to help me come close when my mind is scattered or my soul is raw with griefs or desires I can’t find words to express. He uses it to draw me into deeper love and wonder and humility and new understanding of the magnitude of what He’s done for me, how far I once was, how close I now am, and how much closer I can get to Him.

And when it comes to meeting with God alone, how can I not sing? How can I not give Him a joyful noise? When I’m able to go boldly before Him, how can I not use that boldness to give Him a freewill offering of praise?

I don’t think that quiet time with God is only about learning of the God Who knows no equal; quiet time with God is about coming to Him with intentionality and humility and prayer and praise with the purpose of glorifying Him.

Yes, devotions are about knowing Him as intimately as I can and taking what I know and living like I actually know it, but that isn’t all there is to it. The whole reason anything in all creation even exists is to glorify God, to give Him praise. Period. That’s it. And yes, my entire life is to be an act of worship, but when given the opportunity to lift my voice and glorify my matchless God one-on-One, when it’s just Him and me, why wouldn’t I take it?

I try to keep my music well-balanced with my prayer and study time, and I have found that beginning with some prayer and then a couple songs sets a tone of adoration for the entire time so that my heart is as engaged as my head.

How I use music depends on the day. Sometimes I grab my iPod and listen/listen and sing a few songs. Sometimes I simply pray the lyrics of a song. Sometimes I sing acapella. Sometimes I grab one of my ukuleles and play softly (though, sometimes I have trouble focusing on the words themselves and get too fixated on playing the song well, and so then I have to set my uke aside and sing without it).

I’ve made music a part of my devotions because I love to sing of my God, I love to sing to my God.

I’ve made music a part of my devotions because a few songs on Sunday just doesn’t cut it for me anymore.

I’ve made music a part of my devotions because I want to have a soulfire for God, and music about Him reminds me Who I’m burning for.

I’ve made music a part of my devotions because it helps me focus; it helps me turn my eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face.

I’ve made music a part of my devotions because I want to be consistent in my worship.

I’ve made music a part of my devotions because why not?


Let’s chat it up, peeps.

What do you think is the place of music in personal devotions? Do you think music has power? What songs draw you closer to God?

P.S. – Don’t I deserve some sort of award for keeping this post so short and sweet??? It’s not even 700 words! *collective gasp*

9 Ways to Enrich Your Devotions

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.

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#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.

Phone: *tantalizing*

Me: I wonder if it’s a text… No! I’m focusing on my devotions! Get behind me, Satan!

Phone: ….

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?).

Let’s chat it up, peeps. What about you? What are some things that help you in your devotion time? What are you currently studying? Are any of these things helpful to you?

The Psalm 119 Challenge

Psalm 119 is famous (perhaps infamous) for being the longest chapter in the Bible, reaching 176 verses.

See, we don’t really pay much attention to Psalm 119. Psalm 23 is the poster child for the book of Psalms, and it seems like the other Psalms (especially 119) get ignored or skimmed. Typically, church kids memorize verses 11 and 105 of Psalm 119 at an early age, but I don’t think we usually look beyond those to the rest of the chapter because it’s loooooooooooong (remember, a whopping 176 verses).

The length, not the content, is Psalm 119’s claim to fame, and so its beauty and power have been forgotten. I’ve been going through Psalm 119 for my devotions for the last month, and I can’t believe that I used to think it was a meh chapter. Psalm 119 is about God’s Word and our response to it, and reading it has changed how I view Scripture.

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The Challenge:

I challenge you to read all of Psalm 119 every day for the next 31 days (aka: the month of August).

The Benefits:

– Inspires a new appreciation for Scripture.

References to God’s Word as precepts, rules, law, testimonies, ways, commandments, and statutes are made 158 times over the course of these 176 verses. When you read how the Psalmist views God’s Word, you will be both amazed and inspired.

– Helps fight against temptation.

All Scripture can help fight against temptation, but after reading all the way through Psalm 119 for about six consecutive days, you’ll begin to notice that lines and verses from Psalm 119 will start coming to mind when you’re tempted. This has been a blessing to me personally.

– A closer walk with Christ.

Any time that you spend in the Word will strengthen your relationship with Christ. Psalm 119 is no different. This challenge is every single day in the Word, and I think very few (myself included) are used to 31 days straight of having a quiet time. This naturally draws you closer to Christ.

– Cultivates a curiosity in the other Psalms.

After reading Psalm 119 for a few days, you’ll begin to wonder what other gems you missed in this beautiful book. The Psalms are so full of wisdom and incredible examples of true devotion, true repentance, true love, true worship (guys, Psalms is one of my favorite books of ever).

Terms/themes to keep an eye out for while you read:

– Delight

– Meditate/meditation

– Long/longing

– Love/loving

– Keep/keeping

(You can download this list; it has more terms as well as some questions to consider. They’re kind of no-brainer questions, but I’m trying to be a good little blogger and give you “resources”.)

Tips for getting the most out of Psalm 119:

– Don’t skim; read carefully. Personally, it helps me to read Scripture aloud (especially a Psalm) because then I’m seeing the words, saying the words, and hearing the words. It reinforces the ideas and helps me stay focused.

– Set aside enough time. Of course, you can use this challenge in addition to your usual devotion if you have one, but I personally recommend letting this take over your devotion time for this month. It’s been taking me about 15 minutes to read all the way through Psalm 119, and I read average speed (I think). When you’re sitting down to read Psalm 119, it’s probably best to set aside at least twenty minutes to afford some time for prayer and reflection. As with any devo time, the longer, the better.

– Write down thoughts as you read. Keep track of any themes that you notice, verses that stick out to you, or any other ways that the Holy Spirit speaks to you. It’s fantastic to look deeper at these verses whenever you get the chances.

– Pray Psalm 119:18 before you begin reading. “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.”

– Morning is better. It’s best to start the day with Psalm 119 because then it affects how you think and act throughout the day.

My last request.

Every day, please pick one or two verses that you will focus on throughout that day. Write them down on an index card and keep it in your pocket. Whenever you get the chance—in line at the store, waiting for some water to boil, eating lunch, etc.,—pull that card out and reflect on those verses.

So! The gauntlet has been thrown! The challenge has been issued! Will you accept?

P.S. – I’ll be sharing my verse picks a couple times a week on Facebook and/or Twitter.

P.P.S. – And please share your findings with me! I would love to know how God uses this Psalm in your live just as He uses it in mine!