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November 15, 2011


Private Devotions: A Balanced Approach to a Common Problem, Pt 1

by imreformedbaptist

Developing a consistent devotional life in private (scripture reading and prayer) can be difficult for many Christians. No small part of the struggle is that the flesh begins to war against the Spirit as soon as we begin to engage in these “life-support” disciplines. But, that is only one problem we encounter when it comes to times of private devotion. There is another problem-going through the motions of empty forms. Let me explain. The fact is, developing a consistent devotional life requires disciplining ourselves to read our bibles and pray even when we do not feel like it. We must not take the approach that we should only do them when we feelinspired and in the mood. Many times it is a matter of jacking ourselves up by the belt loop and forcing ourselves. That is just reality. Yet, the irony is that having our devotions out of sheer discipline can develop the the nasty habit of only being satisfied that we are consistent. What can be the fruit of this? Well, things like….

1. Self-righteousness– “I thank you Lord that I have my devotions everyday. I am not like others who are inconsistent” (Lk 18)

2. Self deception– The Lord Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified by the truth of God’s Word (Jn 17:17)

Just because one is consistent does not automatically mean that he is receiving spiritual benefit (Mt 13:18-23; James 1:21-25)

3. Bookishnesh- Bookishnesh??? Strange word huh? By that I mean we rest content that we simply know more about the Book-being satisfied that we have read scripture, learned some more facts, have a better grasp of doctrine, and yet we did not experience true heart felt communion with the Father, Son and Spirit

So, on the one hand, we must not take the approach of letting our feelings determine the consistency of our devotional lives. On the other hand, we must not rest content that we are consistent.

In light of that, I have a question. What do you think are the biblical principles that should form our approach to handle this in a balanced way?

I look forward to your responses

Pastor JJ

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ty Carey
    Nov 16 2011

    Good stuff. I believe dying daily to self includes having a time where God can speak to us. Having a true relationship with God reminds me of repairing a crashed automobile. Sometimes instead of getting new parts for our wrecked auto, we would rather save time and money by using bondo to smooth over the damage. A good bodyman can use bondo to repair the worst of damage. To us, it looks good. Yet the damage is still there under all the stuff of life.
    In our devotion lives we sometime do the same. We dont really allow Him to change us. We just would rather take the shortcut and just have the smoothed over look of having religion, not a true relationship with Him. Like any relationship, its tough to make the time to cultivate a relationship, especially in our busy lives today. We simply have to take the time to spend with him.
    My recent devotions have been about changing my focus back to Him instead of focusing on everything else in my busy life.
    Wow, what a change of focus makes.

    • Nov 17 2011

      Thanks for your comments. Developing a relationship with God does take time, effort and sacrifice just like with any relationship.


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