“Devotion” it has been said is the wheels for a smooth relationship with God. It has since been given other names including Quiet Time, Fellowship, One-on-one Time with God, and the list goes on. However, like several other fundamental Christian doctrines, the concept of Devotion has had it share of false teachings and heresies which this post addresses in clear diction and easy-to-understand terms.
This could be the one-stop you need to make regarding your devotion that will change your life forever. Welcome on board the beloved of God.
Growing up, one of the things my Sunday School Teacher often told us was “Every single thing about the Christian Life and Walk can be traced to the book of Genesis, especially the chapters that talked about Adam and God. That’s where all things got their start from,” she would say with her lips elegantly poised. And as I grow older in person and in faith, I’ve found that to be true and gone back to Genesis to read it through and through. This I discovered, that there were a lot of other things God made than those early chapters vividly say. One of them is devotion. So, back to the book of Genesis, shall we?
All Bible citations are provided in KJV
The Creation Story in Genesis Chapter featured a definite pattern recorded by the repetitive refrain “And God said”. Between each creation, the interlude “And God said” was played, amounting up to 10 occasions in chapter 1 alone.
It became a pattern then that “And God said” preceded everything God created. Hence, we could undertake a simple assignment like we did above to identify every “And God said” and what God created. As we undertake our assignment, we will come upon this verse below, which is another instance of “And God said…” in the creation account:
Again, the new-creation-alarm “And God said…” was sounded, but what did God create here?
He created a designated conversation time between Him and men. In other words, He created Devotion.
What then is devotion?
We can frame a proper definition of devotion by examining its context of creation once again.
Devotion, as clearly expressed in both verses, is a period of time designated for interacting with God. Devotion, as we’ve just seen, is hence as old as man. In fact, the first devotion took place almost immediately after man (Adam) became a living soul; before he even had a wife or any possessions. Devotion has since remained central to the sustenance of the God-man relationship all through the ages down to this day.
Here is a thought-provoking question to selah (pause to reflect) on:
One of the most recurrent phrases in the Bible is “And the word of the Lord came…” with various names coming after, including but not limited to Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Samuel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel. So, where exactly did the word of the Lord come to them? What were they doing?
While you spare a thought for that, I’d go ahead with the answer anyway. The word of the Lord came to them during their designated time for interacting with God. To put that simply, they were observing their devotions when the word of God came to them.
Since Jesus is the Ultimate Example gifted to us by God, here is a question that is often asked: Did Jesus observe devotion and where?
Exclusive details about the stories of Jesus are recorded in the 4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. So we’ll look up to them for our answers. In this case, the book of Mark answers us.
There is hardly a more straightforward verse in the Bible that paints a clear picture of an instance of Jesus observing devotion. Additionally, this Scripture forms the foundational base which many often refer to in teaching about devotion as it establishes a few core frameworks for devotion is and how it should be done.
The framework for proper devotion is given in those two lines of Mark 1:35. But as we would rightly imagine, those frameworks have often been misread, mis-taught or misunderstood. Let’s see.
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight”
The above excerpt is often referred to as the basis for the teaching that devotion (a heart-to-heart one-on-one designated time of interacting with God) must necessarily be in the morning. Some other people have in their teaching focused on the latter part, “having risen a long while before daylight” to teach that devotion must compulsorily happen in the early hours of the midnight, ” “a long while before daylight,” it says, remember?” they would often say.
Matthew’s record of Jesus observing devotion offered something slightly different from what Mark recorded. Here is how he put it in his account:
Matthew certainly didn’t tell us exactly when Jesus got there, but he mentioned that He remained there till the evening. Considering the previous verses, we can figure that he departed into the mountain in the evening and remained there till evening. What hours of the day were not given, but if there was something to take away, it is the fact that Jesus observed devotion in the evening. This created the bias upon which some stand that evening/night is the best time for observing devotion.
That is not talk of people who have been taught that only the mornings and evenings should devotion be done, neglecting the afternoon altogether. “Work hours” they would say.
How about Luke? What about Jesus’ devotion did he have to say?
Off we go to: Luke 5:15-16. He put it this way:
The Lucan account only notified us of Jesus’ devotional practice but offered no specification about the time of the day He did. Shall we then say devotion can be observed anytime of the day? Just before that, a careful observation of all three Scriptures makes a vital point and shifts our focus from A Fixed Time of the Day to Solitude being the most essential thing about devotion. So, contrary to the prevalent notion of devotions to be necessarily observed in the morning or night, devotion is more about solitude than time. And that is the doctrine that Jesus practically lived.
Since we have established that devotion is more about solitude than time of day, why then are mornings and nights often mentioned and popularly regarded as preferred times for devotion?
We get to that in the next section
Why Mornings (especially) And Nights Are Widely Accepted As Best For Devotion
A vast majority of believers don’t know why they do what they do but easily fall in line with what exists in status quo. Here are a few reasons responsible for that:
- Ignorance of the truth that devotion is more about solitude than the time of day. As a matter of fact, solitude is the actual reason early morning and midnights are preferred.
- Morning is preferred because it ushers in a new day and it is important to receive directions from God for the day before stepping out.
- Night is preferred because it offers a chance to reflect on all that happened in the day plus an opportunity to get right with God before we sleep.
Our contemporary world is so activity driven, full of noise and brimming of distractions that we usually don’t have control over. Hence, the only time for proper quietness which is also void of distractions is either very earlier in the morning or late in the night. This is therefore what informed the preference of morning especially, and night for devotion.
So can devotion be observed during the other hours of the day? As long as solitude and quietness can be achieved, yes.
How then do I observe my devotion?
What should I do during my devotion
Observing your devotion should not be based on dogmatic rules. However, here are a few things that can help you:
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
Stillness is the fundamental requirement in establishing a suitable devotional atmosphere. Stillness as it applies here is multi-dimensional. A part of the stillness has to do with the state of your heart. A heart that is still and void of anxieties and agitations is the starting point of devotion. Unless this is achieved, regardless of the external quietness, a proper devotion cannot commence. Remember that devotion is a heart-to-heart interaction with God. Unless the heart, which is the instrument of conversation in devotion is still, no interaction with God can take place.
Therefore, next to the stillness of heart is the stillness of the environment. Jesus on different occasions withdrew to a solitary place to pray. The reason for this is simply to avoid any environmental distractions which is a major hindrance to having a smooth devotional time with God.
2. As you begin your devotion, pray:
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded
Prayer is a vital part of devotion and a good place to start. You can begin with a prayer of surrender. Drawing closer to the God is the way to initial His coming closer to you. You can begin this way:
“Here I am again, God, simple, plain, and void of prejudices.
You see my heart, you know my thoughts.
Please speak to me and take the lead. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
3. Choose a Scripture:
The most fundamental means by which God talks to us is through the Scripture. As a result, reading the Bible is a crucial component of the devotion. It is ideal to have a book of the Scripture you are reading in order to facilitate progress. Proverbs, John, or Genesis are a few selections to start with. You can choose to start with a predefined amount of verses (15 verses, maybe) or read a chapter every day.
4. Consider what you just read and relate it to your life:
The Scripture differs from all other literature in that it has this capacity. Even though the events in the Scripture were written many years ago, they nevertheless have a direct bearing on our modern lives, especially when we let the Holy Spirit guide our understanding.
5. Consider keeping a journal to reflect on your spiritual development:
Instructions and guidance from God will start to come freely as you study and let the Holy Spirit guide your interpretation of the Scriptures. These instructions should be meticulously written down because human memory is always prone to forgetfulness. There may also be circumstances that call for you to revisit those words.
6. Close your devotion with prayer:
Having read the word and applied them to your life, it’s crucial to let sincere prayers flow from that application. A number of verses in the Bible are also direct prayers that can be addressed to God in their entirety.
What is the importance or essence of devotion?
The importance of devotion cannot be overemphasized to a progressive and prevalent Christian walk:
- It facilitates your growth spiritually.
- It helps you to know God more.
- You gain a deeper understanding of the Bible.
- It exposes you to tons of God’s promises.
- It helps you have a strong hold on God.
- You find peace.
The duration of devotions is not predetermined. Depending on how your schedules appear, you can proceed. Start with 30 minutes, 20 minutes for Bible study, and 10 minutes for prayer. That duration could extend as you become adept at it.
Ensuring that you do devotion daily is crucial but not restricted to the following reasons:
- To display our dependence on God daily
- To receive daily helps from God
- To be refreshed by His presence
- To be equipped against the recurrent vices of the devil
- For a steady spiritual growth and development
Creating a daily devotion routine has emerged as one of the major hurdles that is uniform to Christians’ daily lives. While having a fixed time is one of the most recommended solutions, it is also the fundamental set back that introduces devotional decline.
Instead of a rigid time, understanding that devotion is primarily about solitude with God rather than a mandatory time, even if you miss the set them, you can always work out another time in the day. Depending on your schedule, the times may not be the same, but at the long run, you would have established contacts with God every day.
Contrary to the misconception that you will go to hell fire because you don’t read your Bible, not reading your Bible would not directly cause you to go hell. Rather, it will cause a breach in communication between you and God and most likely facilitate spiritual dryness. The ultimate result of lack of communication with God and spiritual dryness is living contrary to His will which could in turn result in eternal destruction.