Devotional frequently asked questions

Many Christians have questions about the devotional, either as a piece of Christian writing or as the dedicated time to commune with God. 

Our Daily Devotionals hub page provides in-depth articles with insights that will deepen your understanding of the devotional and answer common questions. Issues covered include:

But these articles only answer some possible questions regarding the devotional. Other questions are presented below. The list will be updated frequently. Furthermore, if you have a question that needs to be addressed, please comment below or contact us.

As noted above, the content of a devotional depends on the meaning we are interested in. If we are concerned about the devotional as published Christian content, then  it usually has  two or more of the following  five parts:

  1. A scripture passage
  2. A Brief exposition on the passage to edify, inspire, encourage, etc.
  3. Suggestions for prayer or reflection.
  4. Suggestions for further reading
  5. Bible Passage to read in a Read-through Bible plan.

But a devotional as our daily time of fellowship with God has three core components:

  1. Devotional prayer
  2. Devotional Word
  3. Quiet waiting.

These three parts have been presented in the related article “Three Things to do in Your Devotional Time.”

Starting a devotion is simple. There are only a few  things to do:

  1. Respect your dedicated time and move to your closet, wherever that is, during your devotional time. This presupposes that you have already fixed a set time and a designated place for your regular devotions with God. For me, it is often in my home office.
  2. Begin with either Bible reading or prayer, then move to the other. If you begin with prayer, transition to Bible reading after praying; however, if you start with Bible reading, transition to prayer. You will figure out which option works best for you with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The most challenging part in starting a devotional is honoring the commitment to separate yourself at the devotional time to be with the Lord in prayer or the Word.

There is no duration suggested or commanded in the scriptures. God has left it open for His Spirit to guide us based on where we are. However, there are a few guidelines to assist us:

  • The devotional can be as short as 2-3 minutes or as long as 2-3 hours or more. The primary determinant of the time you spend or feel you need to spend with God daily is where you are spiritually. Any time is better than no time, so begin somewhere.
  • Time with God has a proportional effect. The more time you spend with Him, the greater the harvest. Although all of us are children of God, our intimacy with Him and our enjoyment of the sweet communion of His presence and power will vary vastly depending on our practical fellowship with Him. For example, you might discover that the more time you spend with God, the more visions and revelations you have. I often call this the circle of intimacy; choose how practically close you want to be with the Lord.
  • Begin where you are and grow from there. Let your spiritual needs and hunger for God dictate how long you spend in His presence; do not allow what other people are doing or some external rule to impose a fixed expected duration. Such practices will only lead to frustrations and fortify the religious spirit in you.

As mentioned above, an adequate devotional time with the Lord has at least three core components:

  1. Prayer
  2. Bible reading 
  3. Quiet waiting.

So the devotional can be prayer or Bible reading but often includes at least both to be effective.

Similarly, a written devotional is not merely prayer. They are often bits of insights from the Word of God. Some devotionals will have a short prayer at the end to suggest what to pray about.

The practice of quiet time with God in prayer and the Word is as old as the creation of man. God’s people over the ages have always sought to have a dedicated time of communion with Him. The most remarkable of all Biblical portraits of the devotional is the life of our Lord Himself.

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35, ESV)

In contrast to quiet time, the practice of writing or reading devotionals, the Bible does contain any historical examples or exhortations to this practice; it did not exist amongst God’s people in Bible days. However, that does not mean it is non-biblical. Daily devotionals are just a modern format of preaching or teaching God’s Word. Please see “Is it Biblical To Write or Read Devotionals?” to read more about this question.

Christians do devotionals for at least three primary reasons:

  1. Establish practical communion with God, which improves their relationships with Him.
  2. Trigger spiritual transformation as they spend time in His presence and power.
  3. Flourish through His wisdom and power as a branch receives sap from the tree to bear fruit and remain healthy.

For a complete discussion on the deeper reasons for daily devotionals, please read “What is the Purpose of a Devotional?

As noted above, Christians do devotionals for communion with God, spiritual transformation, and victorious living. In these three things and more, the devotional serves as an umbilical cord that draws life from God for practical daily living. Think of how a baby’s life hangs on the umbilical cord. 

Regrettably, many believers have not discovered, understood, or believed this profound spiritual truth. They struggle daily, are defeated constantly, and battle regularly with spiritual emptiness. They do not know the need for practical recharge or refueling in God’s presence. Devotions are one of two foundational hidden but revealed practical secrets to a thriving and victorious Christian life. The other is surrendering our will to Him. Although these two—dedicating time with Him daily and yielding ourselves to His control—are not often as popular as other messages, they are at the root of a thriving and victorious life

The terms devotion or devotional are used interchangeably in Christianity; they are synonyms. However, most Christians used these terms to refer to two distinct but related ideas. The dictionary adds a third idea, often used by non-Christians. These three meanings are:

  1. The Devotional as a piece of Christian writing( or audiovisual content).
  2. The Devotional is the time spent with God daily through prayer and the Word.
  3. The Devotional as things connected to religious worship( dictionary).

Please read “What is a Devotional?” to learn more about this.

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