Do you need a devotional time makeover? Has your quiet time with God gotten lost in the daily busyness of life? Without knowing quite how it happens, your day can slip away into the night taking your God-time with it. When this happens time after time, you will begin to feel that God has drifted away.
How do I know that? Because we have all drifted away at one time or another. We’ve all let the cares of this world and the crazy busyness of life push aside our time with God. When done too often, “I’ll get to it later” becomes a way of life. It’s easy to push things of God aside even though it hurts Him. The good news is that God will gently call you back to him. You can choose to ignore Him or you can choose to grab your Bible and join him once again for daily fellowship.
Maybe you are going through this now and God is calling to you through this post. But maybe you have never committed to having devotional time with God. Maybe you are a new Christian and aren’t even sure what “devotional time” even means. Or maybe the quiet time you have planned isn’t working out like you thought and you need to rethink your plan.
With this post, I plan to help you wrap your head around your devotional time. As you consider your options you can prayerfully create and incorporate a plan that works for you. Because I have always attempted to learn from the example of others, I share what my devotional time looked like in the past and what it currently looks like.
What Is Devotional Time?
Devotional (or quiet) time with God is a period of your day that you choose to commit to God for the sole purpose of getting to know his heart. You do this through the pages of his Holy Bible and prayer (talking with him).
Why is Daily Devotional Time Important?
As his child, taking the time to commune with God is critical to your well-being. When you don’t spend time with God, your spirit will begin to feel like a plant that is shriveling up inside because of its desperate need for water. Your soul needs times of refreshing and regular sips of living water (Jesus).
When you love someone you want to spend time with them. You happily give up doing other things so that you have time to get to know this person better by talking with them and sharing life. The relationship isn’t one-sided; you are building a solid relationship together.
To build this relationship, you must intentionally put in the effort regularly (not religiously). How do you feel when someone you love sets a time to meet with you but then they blow you off? Maybe they had good intentions but in the end, their lack of effort was stronger than their good intentions. What if time and again they put their time with you so low on their priority list yet they still expected you to be patient and understanding? The relationship wouldn’t last long, would it?
What Devotional Time Is Not
Daily devotional time is not a list of religious rules you have to fulfill “or else”. This time with God isn’t something you cross off a to-do list so you can be good enough to earn God’s blessing for the day.
Does Devotional Time Have To Be in the Morning?
No. Everyone’s quiet time will look different because everyone is in a different season of their life. People will tell you that to “do it right” your devotional time must be first thing in the morning. I know I have been told that many times. But you know what? I don’t answer to you for my devotional time and you don’t answer to me. Please don’t let the opinion of others heap guilt and condemnation on you.
Remember, everyone’s situation is different. Maybe you just had a baby or you have toddlers and your morning time isn’t your own right now. Maybe you work nights and your morning is technically evening. Maybe you have a chronic illness that makes your mornings erratic. There are legitimate reasons why you may not be able to plan for devotional time first thing in the morning. But that doesn’t give you a pass; you need to carve out some time for God during your day.
Even though we call it “morning devotional time”, you need to realize that it is a term you won’t find in the Bible. Devotional time with God begins in your heart…you have to desire to do it. If it suits your lifestyle and needs better, have your devotion time over lunch or in the evenings before bed. I don’t think there is any better way to go to sleep than with God’s words hovering in your mind and heart. If you don’t have much time in the morning or evening, try a combination of both with something like 15 minutes each morning and 15 minutes each evening.
Your part is to find time each day that you can spend with God. He has done his part; He has provided 24 hours every day for you to make that happen.
What I Have Done In The Past
I struggled with mornings because of autoimmune diseases that leave me perpetually exhausted and slow to function in the mornings. For a long time, I didn’t have a set quiet time because I needed flexibility. I did a fairly good job of making time throughout the day. However, I beat myself up mercilessly over the guilt and shame of not doing morning devotional time “properly”.
What I Do Now
Eventually, my season of life changed and with it so did my devotional time. Even though I still take mornings slow, I committed to starting my day with God because what didn’t bother me before bothers me now; I have trouble concentrating and become easily distracted. Besides that, I tend to get caught up in my devotional time. Because I have things that need to be done (like keeping up household chores), I need to start my study time as early as possible. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t get anything else done!
My husband is the opposite. He spends time with God in the evenings and uses noise (TV or radio) to help him focus.
Stick With Your Commitment
Before you make any commitments, take the time to talk with God about your situation and your heart’s desire. Let Him know the time of day you feel would work best for you. Ask Him to adjust your thinking if what you desire is not in line with his will. Why?
1. You can deceive yourself and give in to the flesh without realizing it. For example, for years I have had insomnia. I tried everything but nothing helped. I didn’t believe I had a choice in the situation. I began to talk with God about it. My heart’s desire was to get up in the morning refreshed and ready to spend time with God. I wanted to be awake enough to grasp what I was reading, not read just to read. I was tired of Satan stealing my day through exhaustion. I will share more with you in a later post but God brought some things to pass and gradually things began to change, including my sleeping and thinking.
2. Because God takes your words and your commitments very seriously. He fully expects you to stick with what you say you will do. You don’t want to try to bargain with God saying “I will do this if you will do that” or adamantly promise that you will get up every morning at 5 am…and then sleep through your alarm while God is waiting for you to join him. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
“Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong.” (Matthew 5:37)
What Are You Supposed To Do During Devotional Time?
The first thing I would suggest is that you grab your Bible and get comfy. Where that happens is up to you. If you want to spend time with Jesus over breakfast, do it. If you want to spend time with Jesus sitting on your back porch, do it. If you want to spend time with Jesus while walking and listening to an audio Bible, do it.
As far as what you should do during your devotional time, there is no one-size-fits-all answer here either. However, your devotional time needs to include your Bible and talking with God through prayer. Anything else is just a cherry on top.
Aside from that, you can choose to spend time with God in many ways such as reading a daily devotional book, journaling, listen/singing praise and worship music, playing an instrument, meditating on what you’ve read, color Bible pages, listen to an audio Bible, listen to an online biblical teaching about the subject you were just reading about, follow along with a read-along-plan (like a one-year reading plan), or do a Bible study with a character, topic or book of the Bible you are interested in.
What I Have Done In The Past
I have done all the above.
What I Do Now
Consistently you can find me with my Bible open beside me, a notebook in front of me, and a pen in my hand. Writing out my thoughts and prayers (journaling) helps me to organize the thoughts swirling in my mind. Without it, I would am miserable. Aside from journaling, I might feel led to do a Bible study or handwrite the Scripture. Those three seem to be my go-to’s nowadays.
How Long Should My Devotional Time Last?
That depends on you and the commitment you are willing to make. From talking with friends, I would say the average person spends anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. But don’t get hung up wondering if the time you spend is “enough”. If you are willing to dig deep and open your heart, the Holy Spirit can speak to you through a single verse. It might take you reading an entire book before your heart is softened and ready to receive what He has for you that day. To put it another way, you can spend 3 hours a day reading the Bible but if your heart and mind aren’t in it, you might as well have spent 3 seconds.
What I Have Done In The Past
My devotional time was typically 15 minutes; 20 minutes if I was struggling and needed to feel extra close to God. That usually gave me time to read a chapter.
What I Do Now
My quiet time with God looks nothing like it did 5 years ago. For the most part, I no longer have a set amount of time with God. Sometimes I get so engrossed I have to set my writing, reading and studying aside so I can get busy with my household duties. Keep in mind my situation is not like most people’s. I have no idea how long I will be able to continue this way. I recognize it as a gift and plan to continue as long as God allows it.
Spending time with God is not an option for a Chrisitan who desires to grow and mature in Christ. Just keep in mind that spiritual growth takes time and effort but it begins with intentionally spending consistent time with God. Making time for Him won’t make your day trouble-free. God grows and develops us through troubles. But honestly, I am calmer, have more peace, and am a kinder, gentler person the more time I spend with God.
If your spiritual life is not where you want it to be, take a look at your devotional time and honestly evaluate it. Ask God to give you eyes to see it clearly and the wisdom to understand where you need to make changes.
Whatever changes you feel led to make, consider doing it in small, baby steps. It is hard to make changes. If we try to bite off too much all at once, we are likely to get frustrated and give up. God doesn’t want us to give up and walk away! He desires that we get into his Word, spend time with Him in prayer, and trust that He will make changes in us from the inside out.