Do you every wish you had a clone of yourself that you could send to work, run errands for you, or just in some way free you up to be able to relax? Schedules demand so much of our attention that we find ourselves running to catch up. Little wonder then that many believers, knowing they need to spend time in prayer and studying the Word, wonder just how this can be possible.
Establishing a successful devotional life begins with the realization that we absolutely must spend time with God. A simple read through Psalm 119 highlights some of the many reasons we need to study God's Word. Passages such as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 speak of prayer being a continual part of our lives. These truths and others point to this truth - if we desire to grow in our faith and be effective servants of the Lord - we must spend time with Him. We must realize devotions are a privilege we can look forward to doing.
Once we understand that spending time with the Lord is so important, we can take an honest look at how we spend our time each day.
In http://christianity.about.com/od/practicaltools/ht/createdevotion.htm (accessed November 14, 2008), this vital instruction is given, "If you view your time spent alone with God as an appointment to be kept in your daily calendar, you will be less apt to miss or skip it." As busy people, we understand appointments, and we can understand the need to make God our most important appointment of the day. We should evaluate our day and set aside the time that we will be least likely to be interrupted and most likely to be successful to become God's time.
When we are establishing a devotional time, we must set realistic goals. We cannot expect to start out like great warriors of the faith. Those people developed amazing devotional lives through years of experience and prioritizing their lives. Maybe a realistic goal for busy people would be to start out giving God 15-30 minutes each day. All of us can make adjustments to come up with this time daily for the Lord. We will also explore resources that can help us have devotions at times we might not think are possible.
Living in the 21st century gives us access to resources unheard of only 30 years ago. These resources allow us to set aside devotional time in a variety of places and ways. For example, this article you are reading appears on www.network211.com The resource centers link on the left-hand column provides links to several resource centers that offer a great deal of material to enrich our spiritual walk.
Websites such as www.studylight.org offer in-depth Bible study resources as well as many Bible versions. I teach a Bible study at my home church in Springfield, MO, and we have a link to a variety of resources on our class website at http://www.evangel.edu/personal/baileyd/web/resources.html.
Handheld PDAs offer another resource for devotions. Prayer requests, biblical text, and sermon outlines may be stored here for retrieval at any moment. In addition, worship songs and audio versions of the Bible can be stored on I-pods and mp3 players. This allows us to spend time with God no matter where we are.
Email software at work and at home can be a useful tool for setting devotional times. Here we can set up appointments with God and enter the prayer needs to address that day. In addition, there are several excellent Bible study software available. Logos (http://www.logos.com/) has some excellent resources.
Also, we do not want to forget the tried and true method of paper and pen. Plan to have a readable and reliable version of the Bible to study. Keeping a notebook for observations from the Bible and prayer needs can be an excellent tool, especially if these are easy to take.
Once we have identified the resources we want to use, we can focus our attention on a plan. Knowing what we want to accomplish in our devotional time will help us proceed. There are many methods for Bible study and many prayer models to follow. We must determine what works best for us. Some people focus on one book of the Bible at a time. Others want to read the Bible through every year. Regardless, we need some method for noting observations as we study. Also, we should combine praise and worship with praying for needs. This helps us keep balance in our prayer lives.
Finally, we need to stick to our priorities. Keeping our time with the Lord must be forefront in our lives. We will never regret putting God first in our lives.
By Don Bailey