The Discipline Of Devotion

Discipline Of DevotionBe still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10) In our very busy world, it is easy to forget who we serve and why. We need a reminder of God’s daily presence. A set time of daily devotion and prayer can help us draw nearer to our Lord and enhance our service to him.

There are at least three important Bible features of devotion that are worth considering here. However, first recognize that there is no set Bible pattern for devotion. One is free to devise their own plan. At the end of this article, I’ll try to recommend a simple plan that takes only about 20 minutes. Next, while there are several worthy devotion books that may be helpful, there is no substitute for the Bible, God’s word.

Meditation: To “meditate” is to stir the mind, to mix the ingredients. However, an essential first step is to listen to God. We must open God’s word and let God talk to us. His marvelous truths provide the essential ingredients. In Psalm 40:6-8, we get the picture of mindless religious activity. But, the author submissively turns to God to listen: “my ears you have opened…I delight to do your will, O my God, and your word is within my heart.”

Once we have put God’s word in our minds, the next step is to mull them over. The Psalmist says of the blessed man: “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2) A footnote in the NKJV says that he “ponders by talking to himself”. This time of meditation is a good time to personally reflect on how the Bible principles apply to me.

Scripture memory can be a wonderful tool of meditation. Write down your “scripture of the day or of the week”. Carry it with you in your pocket. Try to think of Bible passages that will inspire you to improve your walk with God.

Confession: There is no real devotion without confession. Our time of meditation will surely lead to self-examination, which may reveal our weaknesses, and the sins we need to confess.

Certainly, confession can be a spontaneous event. Whenever, it occurs to us that we have sinned we need to ask God to forgive us. David (Psalm 139:1-10) was always aware of God’s presence. He used God’s omniscience to appeal to God to lead him in the right way. (Psalm 139:23,24)

However, confession should also be systematic. The present active verb of 1 John 1:9 (“if we confess”) implies an ongoing frame of mind. It is not that we just go around sinning all of the time, but that we should always be aware of the possibility. A part of our daily prayer should be to ask God to forgive us of those sins of which we may not be aware. The Christian should always be asking God to help him find the right path.

Adoration:  Anyone who has a relationship with God, will surely stand in awe of him. There needs to be a sense of reverence for God that is linked to a humble spirit. The admonitions we have already received from his word, coupled with personal reflection will surely lead to such a respect for God. Thus, our time of devotion should include a time of contemplation, worship, and submission.

Spend time thinking about the mighty acts of God. God’s creation radiates his glory. (Psalm 19:1) Allow the great stories of the Bible to become real to you. Try to put yourself at the Red Sea when those waters parted and Israel walked on dry ground.

How would those disciples have felt who witnessed the Lord’s transfiguration when his face shone like the sun? Imagine the shock of the Babylonian ruler when those three Hebrews came out of the fiery furnace untouched. Put yourself in the shoes of Thomas when he touched the side of Jesus and proclaimed “my Lord, and my God.” (John 20: 28)

Such contemplation will surely lead to passionate worship. The praise Psalms provide a good sample for worship. “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1) “Declare His glory among the nations, his wonders among all peoples. For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.” (Psalms 96:4,5) Acquire a copy of a hymn book and spend time at home thinking of the words we sing in the assemblies. Your private worship will greatly enhance your corporate worship.

Finally, our adoration should lead to submission. When Isaiah saw the glory of God (Isaiah 6:1-8), he humbly acknowledged his sinfulness and willfully accepted God’s call. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.”” (Isaiah 6:8) Our devotion must culminate in yielding our very ambitions and dreams to Him.

Sample Devotion: My devotion each day includes reading from a devotion book, a time for prayer, and a brief time for worship. Several good devotion books written by brethren can be helpful. For my prayer time, I use an iPhone application called “Prayer Mate” that provides me with my daily prayer list. For my time of worship I use a hymn book. My three step devotion takes about 20 minutes.

Such devotion will not happen unless you plan for it. Take time each day to elevate your thoughts to heaven. Remember you live in His presence. Remember that God rules. Know that not one sin goes unnoticed. Take time to reflect on your spiritual condition. Ask God to help, and promise to use the day to his glory.

By George Slover

george_slover@yahoo.com