The new year always brings out the hopes that this year will be different. I will be in the Word daily. I will pray more. I will serve more. I will lose weight. Be organized. Love better. Listen more. Of all those hopes, the one that sticks with me every year is building consistency in my devotions. Building consistency in your devotions is, I suspect, one of your annual hopes as well.
It seems like it should be so easy. Just get up earlier. Stay up later. Turn off the TV, the phone, the computer. Just do it! If only it were that easy.
The truth is that Satan does not want us to be in the Word or prayer, so he keeps throwing up roadblocks in our way. He delights in distracting us from the important with things that are urgent. Yes, you must take care of your sick child, go to work, wash the dishes, fix the meals, and generally keep the family alive and healthy. But somehow there must be a way to get devotions in there as well.
I say this as a long-time believer in Jesus: consistency is always a battle, because the enemy is always attacking. Once you accept that fact, it actually gets easier to be consistent. You give up expecting devotions to be easy, like taking a stroll on a sunny spring morning. Instead, it’s a battle. A battle to get there. A battle to stay there. A battle to do more than check the box that says, ‘devotions done.’
Why Building Consistency in Your Devotions is Important
The most important reason I can think of to work hard to build consistency in your devotional life, is because you are participating in the most important relationship you will ever have in your life. Your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Just like any relationship, consistent time together builds the relationship. It helps you to know Him better, to understand His Word and His way better, to know His heart, and to experience His love more intimately. If there was no other reason to build consistent devotions, this would be enough.
However, building an intimate relationship with the Father is not the only reason for having consistent devotions. The truth is, none of us knows what waits us each day, month, or year. We will face good times and bad times. We will have victories and defeats. We will be stretched in ways we never thought possible, ways we’d never believe we could survive. Through it all we will need the guidance, wisdom, comfort, love, and peace of the only One who understands.
We prepare for those times by being in the Word and in prayer. We survive the worst of those times by being in the Word and in prayer. And we celebrate the best of those times by being in the Word and in prayer. Without building a habit of consistency before the crisis strikes, without building that intimate relationship with the Lord before you are desperate, you won’t have the resources to draw on with the need arises. Prepare the only way you can – by building consistency in your devotional life and your walk with your Savior.
Finally, work to build a consistent devotional life for those that follow you. You children. Your grandchildren. Younger believers in your small group. Younger believers in your Bible study. Those you lead to the Lord and those your disciple. It doesn’t matter where you are at in your life, your walk with the Lord, your faith experience…there is always someone looking at you as an example.
How to Build Consistency
First, accept that it will be a battle. Accept that you are living in a spiritual battlefield and that the enemy of your soul is determined to take you down. But also accept the fact that you are not in the battle alone. The Savior of your soul is fighting for you and with you.
I often feel alone in my battles. I have very few people in my life that I know pray for me regularly. My entire family of origin – the family I grew up with – are unsaved. How I ever came to salvation is a mystery to me and will probably be so until I enter eternity. So, I know none of them pray for me. My grown children are in the busy, child-rearing and career-building time of life, so I’m unsure if they pray for me. My husband? I think so, but I’m not certain. Friends? Maybe.
So you see, the feelings of being alone in the battle are not unfounded. Nevertheless, I know that I am not alone. I’d rather have just Jesus than a thousand other people without Jesus. He is my Rock. I know I can win the battle because He is with me.
Next, plan for your devotions and devotional time ahead of schedule. Yesterday (New Year’s Day) I spend at least half an hour asking the Lord for direction about my focus for devotions this year, or at least for this month. I had finished what I was doing, amazingly, on the last day of 2018, so needed a new direction. I prayed. I pondered. I flipped through the Bible. I scanned my bookshelves. And I finally was led to a plan.
I have very little devotional time in the mornings, but it is still important for me to get some time in the Word before heading out the door. I plan for about 10 minutes. In that time, I can read one chapter, ponder it, pray over the day and immediate needs. So, my plan for January (it may stay much the same through the year – we’ll see), is to read one psalm one day, one chapter of Proverbs the next day, and one chapter of Luke the day after. Then start over. Yesterday, I read Psalm 1. Today, I read Proverbs 1. Tomorrow, I will be in Luke. Then, I will be back in Psalms with Psalm 2. Simple. Easy to remember. Easy to do. I should finish Luke first of the three books, so then I’ll probably plug an epistle into the rotation. That’s my plan. What’s yours?
Also, you need to organize your space and supplies. You’ll need your Bible, probably a journal, and maybe a devotional book. You’ll need a specified place you’ll go. If it’s the kitchen table first thing in the morning, be sure to clear it off in the evening before bed! If it’s in your bedroom just after waking up, have all your supplies on your bedside table. Be prepared for devotions and they are much more likely to happen.
Finally, give yourself grace but not excuses. If you miss a day, the devotions police are not going to come after you, your church won’t excommunicate you, and you won’t lose your salvation. But don’t use missing one or two days as an excuse to write off the week (or month) and then start fresh next Monday. Grace – yes. Excuses – no.
What Will You Do?
Consistency in devotions isn’t easy. But you know you need it. So, the question now is, “What will you do?”
- To plan and prepare for devotions tomorrow and all the days after that?
- To encourage yourself out of your nice warm, comfortable bed earlier tomorrow so you can meet with the Lord?
- To schedule your devotional time when the children are most likely to be asleep?
- To bounce back when you stumble?
- To help you view consistency as a journey, not a destination?
My encouragement to you is to make a plan today. Follow it tomorrow. Tweak it as necessary. Repeat as often as needed. Building consistency in your devotional life starts now!