What do you do, or should do, during your devotional time with the Lord? Though the scriptures do not explicitly enlist what we should do—God rarely does this in the scriptures—we can put scriptures together with the experiences of God’s people to know how to make the most of our time with the Lord.
In this article, you will learn three fundamental components of our devotional time: devotional prayer, devotional Word, and quiet waiting. We will briefly examine each part but begin with the big picture.
The Essence and Form of the Devotional
As discussed in the article What is a Devotional?, the devotional has substance and a form of expression. The substance is communion with God, and the form is the mechanics or the practical things we do.
The form gives expression to the essence. So the purpose of prayer or Bible reading (form) is to fellowship with God’s presence and power (substance). While essence without proper form undermines the potential benefits, form without essence is emptiness. So your goal should not be to merely go through some Christian religious routine of praying or reading the Bible daily. Your eyes should be on communion with God.
Nevertheless, proper form is important; yes, there is a place for learning the proper procedures or steps. For example, Eli taught young Samuel to hear God as a prophet. Similarly, you can learn the practical steps, like the devotional prayer, to increase the benefits of your time with the Spirit.
Every form of prayer is fellowship of God, but not every type of prayer is devotional. For example, when the Church spent all night praying for Peter to be released from prison, they engaged in prayer of intercession (Acts 12:5). That was prayer in a crisis moment.
The devotional prayer is the minimum daily communion with God in prayer that nourishes, strengthens, and refreshes us. Its foundational idea is our need to commune with God in prayer daily, whether we have things (requests, problems, etc) to pray about or not. This communion in prayer occurs whenever we effectively pray irrespective of what we are praying about.
A few examples will suffice. In Eden, God often came to Adam and Eve to commune practically with them—probably daily (Genesis 3:8). In Acts 10:9, we see Peter climbing up to the roof of the house about noon to pray (likely a daily habit).
Luke said about Jesus, “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed” (Luke 5:16, KJV). If nothing inspires, encourages, or compels you to pray daily, the Lord’s habit should. No one knew how important it was to be with the Father daily as the Son of God Himself. If Jesus needed a daily dose of communion with the Father, it should be apparent that we will fail miserably without it.
The second component of the devotional time is a daily dose of the Word. The best phrase in the scripture that captures this idea so vividly is the Lord’s words in Matthew 6:11 “Give us this day our daily bread.” Although Jesus referred to our daily physical food in this prayer, it is easy to see the spiritual analogy.
The Father has daily bread on His Table for you to feast on. He wants us to ensure we come to the Table and eat, especially before going out to encounter those many problems and pressures of life.
Two Practical Parts
In practice, the devotional word has two main parts: Bible reading and devotional Bible study. Although these are closely related and are the two sides of the same process, the subtle distinction is essential in practice.
The Devotional Word often begins with Bible Reading, a great opportunity to read through the Bible in a year. Reading the Bible is an excellent means to feed your spirit with God’s Word daily; you can feed on the Word by just reading or by in-depth study.
The devotional Bible study is a specific approach to Bible study. It is neither Bible reading nor in-depth Bible study. Rather than merely reading the Bible or studying it in detail, the devotional Bible study focuses on meditating on the Word of God—feeding, pondering, muttering. Any attempts to study a passage of scripture will ruin the devotional Bible study, and Bible reading without meditation is like tasting the icing on a cake without eating the cake properly.
So, during your devotional time, you will read the Bible and meditate on a verse or two.
The third component of the devotional time is the least familiar and most problematic. I struggled to find an appropriate term to describe it. It could be called quiet time, but since we often use quiet time as a synonym for the entire devotional, this term was unsuitable. I settled on quiet waiting.
Quiet waiting is sitting still in God’s presence, without talking or doing anything but focusing our attention on Him and expecting Him to do something. We literally sit there doing nothing—yet causing tremendous movements in the realm of the Spirit. It is highly probable that over ninety percent of you reading this article rarely do this or possibly have never done it, yet it is such a profound spiritual activity that will change your life. For many years of my Christian life, I did not know it either; like many other believers, I often prayed, read the Bible, and off I went. I was losing—big time.
Start and Grow
There is a time during the devotional when you should be still in God’s presence and wait for Him to do something, often speak to you. I urge you to begin doing this and grow in it. To help focus your mind, think or meditate on God Himself.
I often picture Jesus in Revelations 1 or the Father on the throne in Revelations 4. Intermittently, I will speak in tongues, worship, or meditate on the scripture to refocus my mind as needed. It often takes time for the mind and the flesh to calm down and be still in God’s presence so that you can enter higher realms of communion with God.
Besides these three core parts of a quality devotional Time—prayer, the Word, and waiting—there are other things we could do during our devotional time with the Lord. We could read a daily devotional, listen to songs that facilitate our communion with the Lord, write down things the Lord puts in our minds (journaling), etc.
However, these other things are built upon the three core components as the foundation. I am pleased the Lord did not give us a strict format on what to do with our quiet time. The format that works for me might not work for you. Again, it is not the format but the communion that God wants. His Spirit will guide you and tailor your time with Him based on your spiritual needs.
Putting It Together
During your quiet time, pray, feed on the Word, and wait quietly before Him. There is no hard and fast rule on which should come first or in what order. I often begin by praying. I tried start with Bible reading or meditation Word but it did not work well for me. However, this sequence works well for others. But whatever the sequence, prayer, the Word, and quiet waiting should be fully integrated into your devotional time.
Furthermore, as with everything in our walk with the Lord, grow in it. It might take you weeks or even months to perfect this skill. But once you are grounded in this, the harvest of God’s glory in your life will make you forget all the initial struggles; and you will wonder why it took you so long to make this a habit.
Which of these three components do you do well? And where do you need help? Let us know in the comments below.
- What is the Purpose of a Devotional?
- Challenges & Obstacles to the Devotional Life
- Five Fundamental Devotional Concepts
- What is a Devotional?
- View All Devotional
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