We define the devotional as the time we set apart to fellowship with God in prayer and His Word during which He nourishes, strengthens, and refreshes us. In this article, we present seven examples that illustrate the idea of a devotional.
There are endless examples or illustrations of the devotional in the Bible and our everyday life. However, we will present seven of them here:
- Care of our bodies
- Trees Planted by a river
- The Gas Tank of a Care
- Isaac in the Field
- The Story of Mary and Martha
- Sitting at the Father’s Table
- The Devotional Life of the Lord
Each of these illustrations will emphasize one or more of the critical features of a devotional.
Care For Our Body
We eat daily and exercise regularly to keep our bodies healthy and fit. The Apostle Paul says:
No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church (Ephesians 5:29 NLT)
He says we all feed and care for our bodies.
The devotional life is feeding and caring for our hearts (spirit and soul) through proper nutrition (the Word of God) and exercise (prayer). God’s Word, as food for our spirits, furnishes the nutrients or building blocks we need to grow and function. However, prayer operates differently.
Like physical exercise, prayer does not add any building blocks for growth but stimulates growth and development through activity using the nutrients supplied by the Word. So the Word and prayer are neither options for us to pick the one we like best, nor are they mutually exclusive; instead, they work together as proper nutrition and exercise work together to keep our bodies healthy and fit.
Trees Planted by the Rivers
A favorite illustration in the scriptures of the fascinating fellowship of the believer and the lord is a tree planted by a river. David describes the devotional life as follows.
But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do (Psalm 1:2–3 NLT).
In this illustration, we are the trees, the river is God’s River of His presence and power, and the planting is our communion with Him. In the context of a devotional, communion is the practical fellowship that improves our relationship with the lord, just as communication improves any human relationship.
The Gas Tank Of A Car
Our third example to illustrate the devotional life is that of refilling a car’s gas tank. Every vehicle needs gas (or fuel) to function. As the car runs around, the gas slowly depletes, and the driver must revisit the gas station and refill the gas tank. This illustration of another gas tank has one primary purpose: emphasizing the need for constant spiritual refueling.
Just as no driver fills the gas tank once and expects the car to run forever, we do not pray or feed on the Word once and hope to continue for years. Although God does not drain out of us, we need to refurbish, renew, and replenish regularly, as the example of the Lord shows us below.
Isaac in the Field
Genesis 24:63 tells us:
“And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming.” (Genesis 24:63, ESV)
Isaac left his home and went out into the field to meditate there. Though not stated, we can infer that this event was not accidental. Instead, it was a habit; Isaach usually separated himself and spent time with the Lord in meditation. Isaach had a devotional life.
Again, we need to be cautious with this example. Isaac going to the field does not mean we must leave our homes and go to a remote desert or mountain to have a devotional. There is nothing special about mountains or deserts. However, they provide a quiet place ideal for quiet time. Sometimes, this retreat is necessary, but it is not mandatory.
The Fascinating Story of Mary and Martha
The story of Jesus’ visit to Martha and her sister Mary is a classic biblical example of the devotional life. Not only does this story represent devotional life, but it also vividly describes one of its significant obstacles and reveals what God thinks when we spend time with Him.
Luke tells us:
As Jesus and the disciples continued their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38–42 NLT)
Mary sat the feet of Jesus, hearing His words. This is a perfect example of what happens during our devotional time. While Mary had a devotional, Martha was “distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.” Here you find one of the primary enemies of the devotional—distractions from life’s daily demands. Preparing dinner for Jesus was not wrong, but doing so at the expense of time with Him was the problem.
Jesus’ response is perplexing. When Martha requested Jesus send Mary away to help her cook, Jesus told Martha. “
“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it and will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus’ response is God’s response. It vividly paints a picture of what God thinks about our devotional life.
Sitting at the Father’s Table
When we spend time with the Lord in prayer and the Word, we symbolically sit at the dining table to eat breakfast with Him. Well, it could be any time of the day, but the scriptures often emphasize the early hours for a good reason—before you face the demands of the day! (See Jesus’s example below)
The Psalmist says:
“They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.” (Psalm 36:8, ESV)
The term abundance in this verse is the Hebrew Word deshen, which means quality and abundant rich food and drink. At His Table, we eat solid food and drink delicious drinks—we feed on the Word and fellowship with the Spirit. This is the primary reason I titled the devotionals we publish Deshen Daily ! Therefore the picture of a family at the table for a meal is a beautiful example of a devotional.
The Devotional life of the Lord
It is fitting to end these examples of devotionals with the most important of all: the devotional life of the Lord Himself. Jesus had a devotional life. He often withdrew from the people, even with the enormous ministry demands to spend time with the Father. As mentioned above, this practice was not accidental or intermittent. It was His habit. It was a regular practice.
“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)
So despite the pressures of ministry, the demands of the people, or His initial forty-day fast, Jesus spent time daily with His Father—a suitable lesson for every believer and every minister.
We have briefly considered different illustrations of the devotional life, from the care of our bodies to the divine life of the lord. I hope these illustrations inspire, encourage, and strengthen you to prioritize your devotional life. We must make it happen because life will not allow us to get it easy!
If you need personal guidance, reach out to us. Remember to review the free resources below to help you understand the devotional life.
Which of these examples or illustrations helped you the most? Let us know in the comments below.
- What is a Devotional?
- What is the purpose of a devotional?
- Devotional prayer: learning from our Lord Himself
- View Today’s Deshen Daily Devotional