On Personal Devotions

What are personal devotions?
Personal devotions are intentional appointments in which you spend private time with God. Scripture warns us not to neglect the corporate meetings of God’s people (Heb. 10:24-25). But your faith will be shallow and your growth will be stunted if you only pay attention to God during public, corporate gatherings. In fact, you may need to examine yourself to see if you are in the faith if you have no desire for God outside of attending church services. After all, salvation is not just “fire insurance.” It involves a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. And with all healthy and growing relationship, you must invest time into it. Call it personal or private devotions. Call it a quiet time. Call it what you want. You ought to spend time with God – just you and God.

Why are personal devotions important?
The best reason I can give you for having devotional times with God is the fact that Jesus did. There were times when Jesus would get up early in the morning, before daybreak, and steal away to some desolate place to pray (Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42). And if Jesus – the incarnate, eternal, and only-begotten Son of God – found it necessary to spend private time with God, who are we to think that we can navigate our faith walk without spending time with God? Beyond that, spending time with God will build your faith, help you to resist temptation, and provide spiritual wisdom for life. The spiritual benefits of personal devotions are great, diverse, and numerous. But James 4:8a may say it best: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (ESV)

When should I have my devotional time?
Let me answer that two ways. First, you should have a devotional time everyday. Consider the things in your life that you do not go a day without? Eating? Television? Surfing the web? Talking on the phone? Reading the newspaper? There are many things – some good and edifying and necessary, some not – that are a part of our daily routines. It just shouldn’t be that you do many things every day, but only spend quiet time with God once or twice a week. You should put on your schedule a quiet time with God every day.

Secondly, you should have your devotional time in the morning. This is not a hard and fast rule. And there are many for who deem it better to have their quiet time in the evening. Or late at night. That’s fine. But for must of us, it is probably best that do our quiet time in the morning. Most of us are more refreshed and focused in the morning. Having it in the morning also helps to prevent your quiet time from being squeezed off the agenda at the end of a long day. It also seems to be appropriate to begin your day by checking in with God.

What should I do during my devotional time?
I recommend that your devotional time should focus on two essential disciplines: Bible intake and prayer. By Bible “intake” I mean more than just Bible reading. But Bible reading should be primary. Get a plan to read through the Bible in a year. Or read through particular books of the Bible. Or read an Old Testament and New Testament passage. The plan is up to you. But you should be constantly taking in the scriptures. This includes meditating (thinking deliberately about a scripture to gain personal application) on what you read and memorizing specific passages of scripture.

Likewise, your quiet time should be spent in prayer. You should worship God and give thanks to him for his blessings to you. You should confess your sins to God and ask for his forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ. You should bring your needs to him, seek his wisdom, and submit to his will. You should pray for others – family and friends, your church family, the lost, the sick and grieving. In fact, you should start a prayer journal. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complex. It can be a simple as getting a notebook to list the people and things you are praying for and the ways God is answering your prayers. This would greatly aide your personal devotions.

Now, there are many other helps I could recommend. But I think it is best that you view most other resources and practices as secondary to prayer and scripture intake. I will make one exception. It might help to also have a hymnal at hand during your devotions. Rather than just listening to CD’s of other people singing to God, you should get a Christian songbook and sing to the Lord in your quiet times with him.

What now?
In closing, let me appeal to take several action steps in response to what your have read above.

1. Make a commitment to start having personal devotions. Don’t think about having a quiet time. Don’t pray about making time for prayer. Don’t read on reading the Bible. Just do it! Make a commitment today to begin a quiet time with God.

2. Start now. There is really nothing holding you back. Set a time tomorrow to begin a quiet time with God. Put it on your calendar or schedule. Set your clock. Get your Bible, pen, and notebook handy. And start a quiet time immediately, if not sooner. Don’t give yourself time to make excuses for not doing it. Start now. Smart small, lest you set yourself up for failure. But start now.

3. Be prepared for resistance. The devil will do whatever he can to stop your personal devotions. The world will lure you with many enticements and distractions to keep you having your quiet or making it a priority. And your own flesh (or fallen, sinful humanness) will resist the development of this spiritual discipline. Even your blankets will attack you, when you try to get up 20 minutes earlier than usual to have your devotional time. Be aware. Be ready. Be persistent.

4. Make yourself accountable to somebody. Like with many things, it may help you to establish this new discipline if make yourself accountable to someone. Share your new commitment with someone who will pray for you, encourage you, and take interest in how you are progressing. Remember, two are better than one (Eccl. 4:9-12).

5. Don’t give up. There may be a day (or days) where you miss your quiet time. Don’t let the sense of failure cause you to give up totally. Just start over. If the Lord lets you live another day, then begin again where you left off. The Christian life is a series of new beginnings. So don’t be discouraged by failures.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Mike Ankin

    Very helpful Charles and very straightfoward advicse on private devotions. By the way under point 5, shouldn’t it read “Don’t let the sense of failure”…………?

    • admin

      Thanks Mike. Fixed the post. Good looking out!

  • Anonymous

    Pastor Charles,

    First I want to say thank God for the WORD! The type of preaching you do is none other like I have ever heard. It literally draws you close to listen. Picture a person overhearing a conversation and is just drawn into lean over and listen in (the Sprirt of God is there).It makes me feel so out of touch with God. Just when I thought I was “spiritual” LOL I heard you preach. Shiloh has a long way to go as do all of us. I feel (“cuz u need my approval”) ;) you are JUST WHAT WE NEED. Crystal is adorable, and your children look just like (HER) LOL just joking! Well to make this post worth it. I would like to direct this to other who may be reading this as well.

    I THOUGHT I was spiritual, I go to church read my Bible, pray and try to seek God BUT guess what it was for ME! I must say I found Christ at Shiloh and have been there for about 7 years now and my husband has been there for about 14. I have NEVER seen anyone bring our church so close. Actually knowing each others names, praying for one another in service. In such a short period of time. It is like the most intimate form of worship I have ever seen. WHY because it DOESNT INVOLVE MY NEEDS, praying and loving others is what Jesus did his whole time. It is not about this seat is mine, or that program should say this, or this group should do that, or look at what she has on. It should be Let me move so you can sit here Im so glad you came, wow look at the time they spent to put this program together, or hi nice to meet you I would love to be your friend. We ARE the “Oasis of Love” Why? Because God is Love. When you are internal you are family! So you see and know the weeknesses. Im not pointing it out I WAS A PART OF IT. I have changed I am making such an effort now. I even joined the volunteer group with my district not for ME for OTHERS. God needs our help and our savaltion is a DRAFT (ROFL). Not a volunteer effort. We fought it at first (or most of us did and still do) But we know once we are called by God there is no turning back. You can never do the old things and still feel the same EVER (If you have christ). How do I know Im a recovering drug addict as well. Oh God you are so faithful and merciful. This is long I will be brief, (NOT MY BLOG) Ha.

    Im greatfdul to God for his son Jesus, Im greatful to God for saving my life, Im greatful to God for the way it was and the way it is now. Im greatful for Shiloh and IM very greatful he sent you at a time when we need to be drawn back together. The past circumstances made so many so bitter and God through your preaching and teaching will heal that. God Bless your family and Praise our Father, Jesus Christ!

  • Derrick

    HB, This is some good stuff on Personal Devotions. I’m doing it more than I’ve ever done in my life and I’m a Pastor. I personally believe if Pastors would spend time in personal devotion or “Personal Spiritual Formation”, they’d spend less time sermon hunting because personally my best messages as of late have been birthed during this time. Thanks again! Shalom, +DLS

  • Anonymous

    I am a New Christian again! I’ve been a Christian, but I feel so renewed now. My focus and my desire is to walk/talk/live in such a way that would edify Christ. I want to thank my heavenly father for presenting Jesus to me, and I want to thank him also for placing Pastor Charles at Shiloh. Words cannot express my gratitude as I renew my Christian journey.

    Much Blessings

  • jab

    Very strong! we ought to spend time with God, my sister told me she get’s up early in the morning before going to work that’s her quite time, I’m not a morning person before 5am, but I looked up 4 words on my Bible Library CD “early in the morning”, well God showed me! Genesis 19:27/20:8/21:4/22:3/28:18/31:55 and it did not stop, Exdos 8:20/24:4/numbers 14:40/joshua 3:1/6:12/7:16/8:10, well it went on and I did get the point. If you want God to move in your life why not seeking him early in the morning, give thanks, give praise when it’s just you and him with no interruptions. (And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord. Gen 19:27.kjv..didn’t mean to be so long but you started it! Hold my mule I’m shouting now. Be bless, sis-n-Christ

  • nicole

    Lord have mercy…you were preaching to me!!! This is one area I have really fallen away. Thank you for convicting me, and confirming I need to do the right thing. God bless.

  • Rev. Barney

    You really said something in the last part of this posting, "Accountability." Not many of God's people feel they need to have someone hold them accountable, I on the other hand believe this is very important for every child of God especially for pastors. Pastors face so many trying & turbulant things in his/her life and because of this he/she may feel they are justified in practicing certain things in their life that are not godly. "I deserve this or that." Accountability is the watch word.

  • Anonymous

    Pastor Charles,
    Thank you for this much needed reminder of how important it is for Christians to spend time alone with God. I started having a quiet time in the mornings and I fell off. I will start again where I left off, tomorrow morning.

  • Anonymous

    WOW! Thank you Jesus! Thanks Pastor Charles for making it that simple. I needed that.