Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Finding the Right Devotional Plan

I've written a lot about the importance of a regular devotional time for moms, even the baby and toddler edition. I believe it is absolutely essential for anyone, but as women seeking to serve the Lord, it is critical that we spend time with Him each day. But you know that.

You probably also know all the times you've tried to be consistent in this area and failed. I think many times we fail because we are trying out someone else's formula for devotions. That is kind of like cooking your neighbor's husband's favorite meals for your husband. It may work sometimes, but certainly not all the time!

I know that this was a big area of struggle for me in my early days of marriage and motherhood. I've heard a lot of reasons for inconsistent devotions, and I've offered some myself. However, I trust that you will make the effort to pinpoint what is holding you back from a real daily heart-to-heart with Jesus.

"I Don't Know How To Do It!"
Relationships may be complicated, but they really aren't rocket science. Basically, all a devotional life means is to spend time with each other. Take turns talking like you do when you are on a date with your husband or out for lunch with a friend. I remember a story about Amy Carmichael as a girl. She would go to bed at night and imagine that Jesus was sitting on the edge of her bed. She would talk to Him as if He were; and my guess, based on her lifelong relationship with Him, is that His Presence became a reality! Don't forget to let Him talk to you by reading His letter to you---His Word!

"But I Hate To Read!"
As much as I cannot relate, I know that there are people who are allergic to words on a page. I especially appreciate the fact that you are here today! Many audio Bible CDs, computer programs and apps are available. You can go about your normal day, and listen to the Bible being read to you! Which brings me to...

"I'm Too Busy!"
I could tell you honestly that we make time for what is important to us. That's the short answer. Practically speaking, you can carve out time to spend talking with Jesus and letting Him talk to you through His Word. As I mentioned, you can listen to the Bible being read and pray on your way to work or as you cook breakfast. You can spend a few moments in prayer here and there throughout the day. While this isn't a substitute for unrushed, quiet time alone with God; it can help keep the relationship intact until a longer time period is available.

"I Never Have Time Alone!"
As a mother of small children, I understand! Many times I have settled into my chair with Bible in hand to find some visitors peeking around the corner. This is an excellent training opportunity. Remember how Jesus took His disciples into the Garden to pray with Him? Allow them to join you. Share what you are reading. My early-rising son still reminds me of how we laughed over Solomon having pet monkeys in his fancy palace. (Yeah, see how interesting reading your Bible can be?) I am also pretty strict about my children not getting up before the sun. If the sun is still asleep, they have to stay in their beds until it wakes up!

"I Can't Get Up That Early!"
Yes, if your kids are waking up with the sun, that means you might have to wake up before the sun if you want true "quiet time" with the Lord. Those early times are very precious, even for a night owl like me. However, I understand that some people simply do not function early in the morning. It is fine for you to meet with the Lord in the evening or even during nap time if that works for you. If it is an appointment you can regularly keep, then by all means switch the time!

"I'm Just Not the Theological Type!"
Maybe you get bogged down trying to "dig in" to the Scriptures. That's o.k. Remember it's about your talking to Jesus and His talking to you. Just talk to Him and ask Him what He wants to show you. Then pick a place in the Bible and start reading. I promise you won't be asked to pass any tests!

Here a few of my favorite resources for devotions besides my trusty notebook and pencil:

King James Study Bible for Women
Bible360 App

A Word of Caution!
There are a myriad of devotional books out there, many of them good; however, don't make the mistake of neglecting the Bible for books about the Bible. The plain and simple Word of God is powerful and can speak like no other book can!

I have been greatly helped by books about prayer; however, don't forget to just talk with Jesus throughout the day. He's there to listen and to speak, and it is easy to make the mistake of studying prayer so much we forget to actually pray!

I would love to hear about your progress as you spend more time with the Lord!

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