You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
- Psalm 63:1-5
“Some Christians have learned little of a daily devotional life. Some time ago a policeman asked me what the secret of victorious living was. I told him that there is no magic formula that can be pronounced. If any word could describe it, I would say surrender. The second word I would say would be devotion. Nothing can take the place of a daily devotional life with Christ. Your quiet time, your prayer time, the time you spend in the Word, is absolutely essential for a happy Christian life. You cannot possibly be as happy, dynamic, and powerful Christian apart from a daily walk with Christ.”
- Billy Graham, Day by Day with Billy Graham (from devotion for 2 January)
Note that Billy Graham was not giving three things to do, but that prayer and studying God’s Word should be a part of our quiet time with Jesus. And although this was the second devotion in his devotional, he did not mention doing your devotions through devotionals. There is nothing that can replace speaking directly to God and reading from God’s Holy Word.
I have written before about my mother having us read Scripture before bed when I grew up. Reading the Bible was emphasized in my boyhood home, but devotions? Not so much. We might have one that the church gave us sitting around, but we never read it as a family. We read the Bible and prayed as a family.
I tried that with my boys, and they did not like it. I think I may have been too zealous. Yet, I think Christian families should have group devotions of some sort as well as each individual doing their own thing. Our younger son and his wife worked with their children to find something that they were thankful for each evening before the children went to bed. I don’t think they do it anymore.
And that seems to be the issue. Many people think that one time through the Bible is too much or at least enough. They do not realize that if they are totally devoted to Jesus, He will teach you more from the same verses the next time through, and then again and again.
Some people love reading just a few verses each day, others read several chapters in order to complete the Bible in a year, over and over again. I knew someone who would read the Bible in about three months, covering four translations in a year.
Basically, there are many ways that you can do devotions, but Billy Graham is correct in saying that the important thing is to first surrender to God and then live out a devoted life. The method of devotion will then be what best brings you closer to God.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.