Sunday, March 14, 2010

Strength for the Battle: Devotional methods

Yesterday I shared about my struggles with holding regular devotions, that daily time with God that equips us for life's daily battles.  I often tell myself I don't have time to sit at Jesus' feet, since our mornings are so hectic (I really need to get a better morning plan!).

But I was reminded as I took the time this morning of something a friend once told me: Make the time for God, and then watch as He makes the rest of the day work out, so that you are rewarded for the time you spend with Him.  For the second time this week, as I spent what surely seemed like 30 minutes in the Word, I found that only 10-15 minutes actually passed on my clocks, and I came away refreshed and not as harried.

My time with God tends to follow a pattern.  I always start out with a prayer, asking Him to clear my mind and speak to my heart, to meet me where I am.  Then I study the Scripture, reflect on what it says, and journal what I learn or what I feel Him telling me.

As for the Scripture time, I've never been one to use one of those very brief (200-word) devotionals, simply because the time is so short I don't really feel I've been in His actual presence.  I know those work well for many people, but in my own life, it always feels like Gospel Light - only a bit of substance, with  my mind undiverted long enough to make a difference.

I've used other helps from time to time, but these days my Bible reading tends to be one of two methods.  Often I'll do as Lysa TerKeurst does and read a chapter or two of Scripture, asking God to give me a special verse to cling to that day as His way of speaking to me.  This allows me to cover more Scripture in less time, yet still leaves me knowing I've been in His presence and giving me something to carry with me through the day.  Whether I spend few or many minutes exploring His Word, I leave this oasis refreshed and ready to pursue life with the Living God.

Other days, when I'm in the mood for in-depth study or have more time, I'll use the five-step method detailed by Ann Graham Lotz in God's Story. It takes time, but the results are intensely personal and well worth the time invested.

  1. Look in God's Word - Read the Scripture passage.
  2. List the facts - What does it say? Make a verse-by-verse list of the most outstanding, obvious facts, not details. Who is speaking? On what/where/why? Don't paraphrase; use actual words from the passage.
  3. Learn the lessons - What does the passage mean? Identify a spiritual lesson to learn from each fact. Is there a command to obey, a warning to heed, a promise to claim, an example to follow?
  4. Listen to His voice - What does it mean to me? Take the lessons and put them in the form of a question I can ask myself or others. Ask God to communicate to me personally through His word.
  5. Live in response - What is God telling/asking me? How will I respond? Write what I will do in response to God's message, and date the note as a journal and also to ensure followthrough.

Ultimately it's not the method we choose, nor the time of day, but the simple fact that we pause in our busy lives to listen to the Lord that will make the difference.

No comments:

Post a Comment