Many new Christians view the Christian life as a long list of “do’s” and “don’ts.” They haven’t yet discovered that spending time with God is a privilege that we get to do not a chore or an obligation that we have to do. Getting started with a daily devotional simply takes a little bit of planning. There is no set standard of what a daily devotional time should look like. These steps will help you incorporate the basics elements of a solid devotional into the custom plan that's right for you.
Time Required: 21 days (The time it takes to form a habit.)
Decide On a Time.
If you view your time spent alone with God as an appointment to be kept in your daily calendar, you will be less apt to miss or skip it. There is no “right” and “wrong” time of day. I prefer having my devotions first thing in the morning as this is the least likely time of day for an interruption. I seldom receive a call from a friend at 6:00 a.m. Whatever time of day you choose, let it be the best time of day for you. Perhaps a lunch break fits better into your agenda.
Decide On a Place.
Finding the right place is key to your success. If you try to spend quality time with God lying in bed with the lights off, failure is inevitable. I decided to make a place specifically for my devotions. I chose a comfortable chair with a good reading light. Next to it I put a basket with all of my "tools" - my Bible, pen, journal, devotional book and reading plan. When I get up in the morning, I simply go to my place and everything is ready.
Decide On a Time Frame.
Once again, there is no standard time frame for personal devotions. You have to decide how much time you can realistically commit to each day. Getting started with 15 minutes a day can quickly develop into more. Some people can commit to 30 minutes, others an hour or more a day. Start with a realistic goal that you feel you can meet. If you start with a plan of 2 hours a day, failure to meet the goal will quickly discourage you.
Decide on a General Structure.
Spend some thought on a general structure for your devotional and how much time you’ll spend on each element of your plan. This would be like an outline or agenda for your meeting, so you don’t wander about aimlessly in thought and end up accomplishing nothing. The following four steps will cover some of the typical elements you can include.
Choose a Bible Reading Plan or Bible Study.
This may take some time, but choosing a Bible reading plan or study guide will aid you in having a more focuses time of reading and study. If you just pick up your Bible and start reading randomly each day, you may have a difficult time understanding what you read, or applying it to your daily life.
Plan to Spend Some Time in Prayer.
Prayer is simply two-way communication between you and God. Talking to Him, telling Him about your struggles and cares and then listening for His voice. Some Christians don’t realize prayer includes listening. Remember to give Him time to speak to you in His still small voice (I Kings 19:12, NKJV). Also, one of the loudest ways God speaks to us is through His Word. Spend some time meditating on what you read and letting God speak into your life.
Consider Spending Some Time in Worship.
God has created us to praise Him. I Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people ... belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (NIV) You can express your praises silently or declare them in a loud voice. There is no right or wrong way. You may even want to sing a song of worship in your devotional time.
Consider Spending Some Time Writing in a Journal.
Many Christians find that “journaling” helps them stay on track during their devotional time. You can journal your thoughts and prayers, providing a valuable record. Later you will be amazed and encouraged when you go back and note the progress you’ve made or see the evidence of answered prayers. Journaling is not for everyone. I suggest you give it a try and see if it’s right for you.
Commit to Follow Your Daily Devotional Plan.
Keeping your commitment is probably the hardest part of getting started. Determine in your heart to keep it up, even when you fail or miss a day. Rather than beating yourself up when you mess up, just pray and ask God to help you. And, be sure to start over the next day. The rewards you will experience as you grow deeper in love with God will definitely be worth it!
Be Flexible and Willing to Make Changes to Your Plan.
If you get stuck in a rut, try going back to step #1. Perhaps the plan you’ve chosen is not right for you. Change it up until you find the perfect fit.
- Keep working at your daily devotional plan for 21 days. By then it should become a habit.
- Pray for God to give you the desire and the discipline to spend time with him each day.
- Don’t give up. Eventually you will discover the joys and blessings of your obedience.
- If you are married, consider developing a couple's devotional plan.
What You Need:
- A Bible
- A Pen or Pencil
- A Notebook or Journal
- A Bible Reading Plan
- A Bible Study or Study Aid
- A Quiet Place