The idea of daily devotions can be a pitfall for many Christians, whether newly converted or lifelong residents of the church.
The phrase ‘making time for God’ can get thrown around in interesting ways. We are encouraged to spend some time with God each day; reading our Bibles and praying. It’s a good thing to do devotions and read the Bible every morning. Praying is good, reflecting on His Word is good. But why do it every day? To be Christian has nothing to do with how often you read your Bible; it concerns only your belief and trust that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected to save you from your sins. In this way you would be perfect in God’s sight and spend eternity with Him. So we must pose the question then, why are devotions good?
Scripture tells us to not give up meeting together – hence we go to church, Bible study or small groups. The Bible says we do this so we can spur one another on toward love and good deeds, encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:24-25). So we know why we go to church, but why do we do devotions? We as people can easily forget the reason. Why should we read the Bible every day? You’ve no doubt been told that it’s good, but why is it good? The Bible doesn’t say anywhere that to be a Christian you need to read the Bible for 5 minutes every day. We could ‘make time’ for God any day, but why should we do that? Furthermore, what does it mean for us to do that; to make time, for the creator of time?
The reason devotions are good, is because when we read the Bible and pray sincerely we are reminded of who God is and His mission for us. Reading the Bible every day therefore reminds us every day to live for Him instead of ourselves. To take up our cross and follow Jesus every day. Devotions are a tool to help us follow Jesus. They are good, because reading the Bible and praying is good – it builds our relationship with God. But we must be careful not to place too much emphasis and weight on our devotions. Because if 15 minutes of reading the Bible and praying becomes a chore or something you just do because you feel you should, something isn’t right. Devotions are not an obligation! They are a privilege! How great is it that we have a God who listens to us and hears our prayers at all times of the day, and we can talk to him at any time and read the Bible to hear His Word? God can’t just be number one on our list, He is our entire list! That may sound like it’s asking a lot of us, I know. Not all of us are international missionaries or ministers of churches. But we are all on Earth as representatives of Jesus in our daily lives, put here so that others can see Jesus through us! That is a very important mission that God has given us, and it isn’t just reserved for missionaries serving overseas.
A devotion is a time where your thoughts are devoted to God. You focus on Him alone for a while, but then what? Do you ignore Him for the rest of the day? That is when devotions can become dangerous – the action itself becomes more valuable than its purpose. Devotions are a means to an end, not the end itself. I’m not saying devotions are bad. They are useful. But they are not everything. If you are hungry to hear God, then by all means read your Bible every day. But do not feel ashamed or like you’re a bad Christian if you don’t read your Bible every day, or you don’t always want to read your Bible every day – because guess what? We all fall down as Christians in one way or another, which is why we all need Jesus! Beyond that, reading the Bible is difficult for some people because of learning difficulties if they find it hard to read or to concentrate for extended periods of time. They haven’t somehow failed as Christians because they find reading the Bible difficult. Listen to the Bible if the reading part holds you back. Ask God to give you the hunger for His Word and a desire to develop your relationship with Him. He blesses us with everything good that we have, and teaches us through every trial that we are tested with. Read or listen to your Bible and pray in order to get closer to Him, and do it in a way that always keeps that goal central.