2 Chronicles 7:14
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Daily devotion isn’t a magical experience. We are aware of this (for the most part).
However, we may be tempted to believe that if we just figure out the secret formula — the ideal combination of Bible study and prayer — we will be able to experience euphoric times of exuberant contact with God. And if it doesn’t happen, we’ve got a problem with our formula.
This misunderstanding has the potential to cause long-term disappointment and discouragement. Because devotions don’t appear to work for us, cynicism sets in, and we either give up or beat them to relieve guilt.
Our desire for close communion with God is a gift from God. It’s a good thing to want, ask for, and go after what you want. The Spirit does provide us with amazing, albeit infrequent, tastes. And one day, this need will be fully satisfied (Psalm 16:11).
However, God has different plans for us when we practice daily Bible meditation and prayer. Here are a few examples:
- Exercise for the Soul (1 Corinthians 9:24; Romans 15:4): We exercise our bodies to build strength and endurance, improve our overall health, and lose weight. Devotions are similar to spiritual practice. They draw our focus away from self-indulgent activities and distractions and toward God’s purposes and promises. Our spirits will rot if we don’t do this practice.
- Soul Shaping (Romans 12:2): The shape of our bodies is largely determined by how we train them. Running has one effect, while weight training has another. The same can be said of the soul. It will adjust to how we use it (or don’t use it). This is why switching up your workout program might be beneficial. Take a year to read through the Bible, another year to camp in a book and memorize it, a few months to reflect on and pray through texts pertaining to a particular subject, and so on.
3. Psalm 119:11; Psalm 119:97; Proverbs 23:12): Psalm 119:11; Psalm 119:97; Proverbs 23:12: Over time, soaking in the Bible thoroughly and repeatedly develops our general biblical understanding, providing fuel for the fire of worship and strengthening our ability to apply God’s wisdom to life from all portions of the Bible.
Marines go through intense training to ingrain their weapon expertise so that when they are unexpectedly confronted with the pandemonium of combat, they instinctively know how to wield their weapons. Likewise, everyday handling and use of the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) improves our spiritual warfare skills.
4. Sight Training (2 Corinthians 5:7; 2 Corinthians 4:18): Jesus really does want us to see and savor him. Savoring comes through seeing. But only the eyes of faith see him. “Blind faith” is a contradiction, at least biblically. Faith is not blind. Unbelief is blind (John 9:38–41). Faith is seeing a reality that physical eyes can’t see and believing it (1 Peter 1:8). And “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). So if we’re going to savor Jesus, we must see him in the word he speaks. Faith is a gift (Ephesians 2:8). And like most of God’s gifts, they are intended to be cultivated. Daily devotions are an important way to train our faith-eyes to see the glory of Jesus in his word and to train our emotions to respond to what our faith-eyes see. Keep looking for glory. Jesus will give you Emmaus moments (Luke 24:31–32).
5. Delight Cultivation (Psalm 37:3–4; James 4:8; Psalm 130:5): When a couple falls in love, there are hormonal fireworks. But when married, they must cultivate delight in one another. It is the consistent, persistent, faithful, intentional, affectionate pursuit of one another during better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health that cultivates a capacity for delight in each other far deeper and richer than the fireworks phase. Similarly, devotions are one of the ways we cultivate delight in God. Many days it may seem mundane. But we will be surprised at the cumulative power they have to deepen our love for and awareness of him.
There are many more benefits. You could certainly add to this list. But the bottom line is this: Don’t give up on daily devotions. Don’t whip through them. Don’t let them get crowded out by other demands.
Brick upon brick a building is built. Lesson upon lesson a degree is earned. Stroke upon stroke a painting is created. Your devotions may have seemed ordinary today, but God is making something extraordinary through them. Press on. Don’t short-change the process.
Commonly asked questions
What is a good daily devotional?
extract from desiring God