Most Christians know that spending time with God consistently is essential. However, many sincerely find it difficult to do so. They often lack the inspiration, motivation, encouragement, or even a revelation (deeper meaning) to start and maintain this vital Christian habit. Still, other believers are familiar with the term devotional but do not know why it is essential. Others have attempted it and found it either practically impossible to maintain or an empty daily religious ritual with no practical benefits.
This article addresses these and similar concerns: it will reveal why the devotional or regular time with God is crucial to your spiritual life. Note that the devotional here means regular time with God, not a piece of Christian writing from our favorite authors. If you are unsure about the different meanings of the term devotional, please read what What is a Devotional?
Three Reasons a Devotional Is Crucial
As with almost every part of the Christian life, the practice of regular devotions has an essence and a form. The essence is the substance of the activity, while the form is the outward routine or actions.
Any outward routines or formality devoid of substance spells out empty religion or sheer emptiness. So our goal or the purpose of the devotional is not the practice, the routine, or the formalities, but the substance or the reason for those activities.
There are three primary reasons for the devotional practice or consistent quiet time with the Lord. These three reasons define the purpose of the devotional, and they are:
- Improving our relationship with the Lord through intimate fellowship.
- Transforming our hearts and character
- Producing a flourishing Christlike life with fruits and results.
Before we review each of these, let us briefly examine a classic picture of the devotional often used in the scriptures.
A Tree Planted by the River
The Psalmist says:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law, he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1–3, ESV)
In this imagery, we are the tree, the streams of water represent the river of God (His presence, His Spirit), and the “planted by” symbolizes our constant practical fellowship with the Lord. When a tree is planted by the river, its leaves are always green, and it produces fruits regularly.
A Dry Tree
Contrast this with a tree planted in the desert—dried leaves, no fruit, struggling for survival. Sadly, this is the spiritual life of many Christians, as we discuss below, under spiritual dryness.
But when we fellowship with God practically and consistently, something happens in our lives that changes who we are, how we live, and the results we get.
Improving our Relationship with the Lord
Our relationship with the Lord is like any human relationship: it flourishes with communication and proximity and withers with distance.
Investing in this relationship is the primordial reason for spending time with the Lord. It will make you know Him personally, and increase your intimacy with His Spirit, enable you to know His will, empower you to hear His voice, and live on earth with God as though He is with you daily—which is indeed the case.
Two Facets of Fellowship
There are two dimensions of our relationship or fellowship with the Lord. The saints of old often call these positional and practical, which is accurate. When we believed in Jesus, we came into a Father-child relationship with the Lord. We are planted in His house—positionally. However, after the conversion experience, we continue to improve that relationship and plant ourselves—practically.
The devotional does not and cannot change our positional fellowship; instead, it changes our practical fellowship. And the first outworking of this improving practical communion is seen in our hearts and character.
Transforming Our Hearts and Character
Our relationship with the Lord is the primary purpose of the devotional, which serves as a foundation upon which two secondary purposes are built: transformation and flourishing.
The first result of consistent time in God’s presence is a transformation of our hearts and character. There is no proof, no more excellent witness, that we have been spending time consistently in His presence than the change of our emotions, thoughts, desires, character, and personality.
This change is the handiwork of the Spirit and makes us spiritually strong and established. For example, we find it easier to love people, control our anger, rejoice in the Lord, overcome lusts, subdue fear, etc.
So time with God will change and establish us in the faith.
Flourishing with green leaves and abundant fruit
As trees, our leaves and fruit represent the outward aspects of our lives: the fruits or works we produce and the results we get.
The devotional prepares us to flourish; it prepares us to shine and reign. Many believers often meet life’s challenges unprepared and attempt to begin praying or reading the Word after a storm of life hits them.
Please understand this: it is tough to build spiritual muscles amid a crisis. Your best chances of victory are to be always prepared, planted by the River before the sun rises with its heat—blessed is the man or woman that the sun’s heat meets them while they are already firmly rooted by the abundance of water!
Saved But Living in a Desert
Although all believers are planted positionally at salvation by the rivers of living waters, not all of us are planted practically. Some of God’s children are saved, filled with the Spirit, and heading to heaven, but are practically planted so far away from Him, like a tree in the desert. Such spiritual malposition results in a disturbing problem called spiritual dryness.
A desert is a place without water. Spiritually, a desert is a place without practical access to the presence and power of God to meet our needs. In a spiritual wilderness, Christianity is boring and spiritual life is a daunting chore.
Believers living in the desert always struggle with practical elements of the Christian life, such as believing in the Bible, spiritual understanding, joy, or peace. Sin, bondages, and the flesh rule in dry places. There is no victory over any challenges in life, and spiritual life is dead.
Although hardly any of us want to live in a dry place, spiritual dryness is nonetheless all too common. And one of the primary reasons is the hefty price tag attached to a healthy devotional life—at least the initial price.
A Healthy Devotional Life is not Cheap.
A healthy devotional life will cost you something. Not money, tithes, offerings, or financial seeds. It will cost you time, dedication, and devotion to God.
But after you experience the joys and glories of a life constantly full of God, you will count the hefty price tag as nothing. Besides, the price we pay for spiritual dryness is higher than the price of spending time constantly with God.
The devotional is a secret weapon for an evergreen Christian life. It plants us practically by the river of God, improves our relationship with Him through constant fellowship, transforms our hearts and character, and makes us flourish like palm trees.
What could be better now than to begin spending time regularly with God? We have free resources on our site to help you every step of the way. If you have questions or need guidance, please get in touch with us. Otherwise, please leave a comment below to share with us what the Lord has put in your heart while reading this article or your experience with the devotional life.
- What is a Devotional?
- The Blessings of a Healthy Devotional Life
- This is what happens during your devotional time with the Lord
- On DesiringGod.Org: Six Benefits of a Devotional.
- View Today’s Deshen Daily Devotional
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