4 Tips for Establishing a Consistent Devotional Life
Be honest. How far behind are you on that "Read the Bible in a Year" plan on the Bible app? You know, the one you started on January 1 with the intent of actually reading through the Bible in a year this year.
How is your prayer life? Are you making space and time in your day to seek God rather than mostly asking for His intervention in emergencies?
Many of us know that having some sort of consistent devotional life is vital to experiencing Jesus' promise of abundant life. But outside of generic exhortations to read/study the Bible and to pray, we don’t have a lot of information to go on about how to actually do it.
Here are 4 tips to keep in mind as you consider how to build a consistent devotional life.
Show yourself some grace. As you start to build a habit, understand that you’re probably going to miss some days. Often, the feeling of being behind makes people abandon their devotional life altogether or reduces it to an item to check off a todo list to avoid guilt. Practicing a devotional life is about so much more than avoiding guilt! Miss a day? Start again tomorrow. Try to be more consistent this week than you were last week. Be ok with incremental progress. You’re in this for the long haul!
Start today. Anything worth pursuing is worth starting today! You may need to gather a few items you don’t have to practice the full devotional practice that you choose, but you’ve at least got a Bible (or a Bible app) and a relatively quiet/secluded place in your life. Take 5 minutes, read a few verses, and express a simple prayer. Boom! You’re on your way!
Be realistic with your goals. Have you struggled with consistency for a long time or have you never really practiced a devotional method before? Planning on a devotional practice that requires more than 5-10 minutes is likely setting yourself up for failure. Do you struggle to maintain attention for long stretches of time? Choosing a devotional method with long prayer times or blocks of reading is probably not the best thing for you to do initially. Are you not a morning person? Don’t feel like you have to force your devotion time to be in the morning. Know yourself and trust that God made you that way for a reason. Allow Him to meet you as you are and not as you think you should be.
Set yourself up for success. Decide beforehand what your devotional method will include. For me, it’s a Bible, my devotion book, and a prayer journal. Then, decide when you’re going to practice your devotional method. I do it first thing in the morning. Lastly, prepare the place you’ll practice your method beforehand. The key is to make it difficult to pass by without doing. Every evening I leave my Bible, devotion book, journal, and pen out on our kitchen table. When I wake up, I make a cup of coffee, sit down to drink it, and my things are there waiting on me.
What else would you add?