Daily devotion is a way of life, not a moment in time. It is, what John Calvin referred to, commenting on Hebrews 4:9, “a sabbathizing reserved for God’s people, that is a spiritual rest; to which God daily invites us.” While there are times when we “do our devotions” these are simply concentrated periods which enable us to interact throughout the day (and night) with the Word of God.
Here are five suggestions to get the most out of your devotional reading.
- Approach Scripture as the infallible Word of the living God. The Bible is not a lucky charm, a promise box, a spiritual GPS, nor a text book for eggheads. The God who speaks in Scripture is the Self-Existing One, the “I AM,” the absolute sovereign—infinite, eternal and unchangeable—who condescends to speak to the lives of his people. Interact with Him freely and confidently, but with awe, reverence, and with continued anticipation of knowing more of Him (whom we will never fully know).
- Build a reliable background knowledge of Scripture. The Bible is one book with one story. Understand the unit and flow of redemptive history recorded in the Bible. God has revealed Himself in history and biography, and with the diversity of historical narrative, poetry, prophecy and letters (New Testament). Learn to enjoy all these different methods of revelation and don’t get hung up on one.
- Cultivate the Word in your mind. Take notes or journal. Connect Scripture with Scripture. Develop and formulate thoughts on the doctrines of Scripture and on principles of Christian living (keeping in mind the insights of others throughout history). It will be helpful to see your development in growth and spiritual understanding as you look back on your notes.
- Dwell in the Word carefully and prayerfully. Take pause and meditate on the words, always keeping in mind the broader context of the paragraph and book. Remember, the closet is a spiritual exercise, so take time to pray through what you’re learning.
- Experience the Living Word in your life. Consciously apply what you have learned in the Word to your daily life. Live as Christ did when he “set the Lord always before [Him],” and He was not “moved” (“put off course,” Psalm 16:8). Overcome the world, by living above circumstances—the thorns and thistles—and enjoy by faith the peace and hope of the gospel of Christ.