By Allen Rea
Even as a pastor, I’ve had my share of spiritual struggles.
I know of plenty of times when I’ve gotten out of the will of God, or when I allowed waves of discouragement to overtake me.
However, I’ve also noticed that every single spiritual defeat I’ve experienced can be traced back to my devotional life’s weakness or even absence.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of strong and consistent devotionals in the life of a Christian.
What does a devotional life look like?
A Time in the Word
The key is spending time with God in His Word.
We are called upon to continuously praise Him and to pray to Him (Phil 4:4; 1 Thess 5:17). However, we must also take time to spend in His Word and to memorize it (Ps 119:11). Lester Roloff, a man I quote often and have learned much from, said: “You will never have any more love for God than you have for the Word of God.” This is a profoundly true statement.
A Time for Delight
Devotions are not something to mark off your daily list of chores. They are a time of communion with God in which you delight. I’ve made that mistake many times. If you’re not delighting in your time with God, then something is wrong.
Psalm 119:161 says “my heart stands in awe of Your word.” And God is to be delighted in (Psalm 37:4). Therefore, our time in His Word should bring us great awe and delight.
Practically speaking, if devotional time is a chore, then you’ll eventually stop having it. However, if devotional time is a delight, you’ll keep going.
The main thing in your devotional life must be the Bible itself. While devotional books are good and useful tools, nothing should usurp the prominence of the Bible. Keep the Word of God as the center of your devotional life.
Dr. Curtis Hutson used to say that “the Bible Belt needs another belt with the Bible.” I would gladly “amen” that!
A Time to Hear
Devotional time is not when you prepare a sermon or a Sunday school lesson. It is not the time to be poured out, but to be filled up.
You are not seeking to prepare something else, but seeking to hear from Someone who is preparing you. And you hear from God as you read the Bible.
There is no doubt about it—I’ve learned from experience that a weak devotional life makes for a weak Christian. I implore you to take the time to delight in devotional life!
A Time to Change
I am a Baptist by birth and by conviction, and Baptists used to be known as “people of the Book.” I am afraid we are no longer worthy of that title.
We have changed and left our roots.
We need to change back and become people of the Book once again.
Tradition, reason, and experience are all to be placed under the scrutiny of Scripture. But we will be ill-equipped to do this apart from a delightful and disciplined devotional life.
Allen Rea is pastor of Higgston Baptist Church in Ailey, GA.