Daily Devotions: Mandatory or Optional?

The following is from a preaching assignment in one of my pastoral classes.


How Important Are Daily Devotions?

Proposed solutions that some people might give:

– It’s not that important to have a devotional life, just make sure your daily work is “unto the Lord”
– Devotions are important, but not necessarily daily as long as you don’t neglect reading Scripture and prayer on a somewhat regular basis
– Daily devotions are important, but you don’t need to take much time, even just a couple minutes is better than nothing
– A daily routine of intense daily devotions is very important

Solutions offered by Scripture:

Job 23:8-12
Job, in his distress, feels as though the Lord has abandoned him. Yet, he has not departed from God’s commandments, and he has treasured God’s words more than food.

Deuteronomy 8:1-3
When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, God wanted them to learn to trust God’s Word above all.┬áJesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 when he is tempted by the devil to give in to his hunger (Matthew 4:4).

Revelation 1:1-3
We are blessed by the reading the words of Revelation. Not only Revelation, but all of Scripture is a blessing when read aloud and obeyed.

John 17:15-19
In Jesus’ prayer for his followers, on the night of his betrayal, he asked God to sanctify us in the truth of God. His word is truth. Therefore, our sanctification comes through the reading of God’s word.

My response:

In the introduction to D.A. Carson’s book, “For the Love of God,” he acknowledges that daily reading of God’s word has become increasingly challenging due not only to the regular sins of laziness and lack of discipline, the pride of life and sins of the flesh, but also because of the sheer pace of life. How many of you feel like there is not enough time or energy in a day to spend a good hour in prayer and devotions? I can honestly say I have not ever spent more than 15-20 each day in devotions on a regular basis due to the rush of the morning.

Back to the question, how important are daily devotions? Do we need to feel guilty about not spending time each day in prayer and reading God’s Word? The passages above make it clear that our dependance on God’s word should be more valuable than food. It would seem as though we are expected to make the reading of God’s word the most important part of our lives. What does this mean for our devotional life, especially since many of us read the Bible regularly as part of our class assignments? Are we expected to spend an hour every day in devotions?

I would like to suggest a better way to think about this. Instead of wondering what we are expected to do, I would like us to think more about what our desires are. This is an issue of being transformed in response to being saved. When we said yes to Christ, we inherited the righteousness of Christ. Our salvation is no longer dependant on what we do, but in whom we trust. However, the process of becoming holy has only just begun. Part of that process involves the hearing, or reading, of God’s Word.

If our desire is to continue the process of becoming holy, our desire should also be to immerse ourselves in God’s Word. It might mean using a Bible reading plan and reading 15 minutes a day, or spending time in prayer each morning and asking God to reveal specific passages. Regardless of the method, the process of becoming holy includes God’s Word.

I challenge you to start a Bible reading plan today. There are many good reading plans available, which can be found at http://www.esv.org/resources/reading-plans-devotions/

If you prefer to listen to the reading of the Bible, a good resource is http://www.bible.is, which can also be accessed as a mobile application.

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