Devoted to Devotions

When I was fifteen, I decided that I needed more consistency in my devotions. So, I resolved to spend a certain amount of time in God’s word every single day. And I mean every single. Those of you perfectionists out there can appreciate, perhaps as no one else can, just how tenacious I was in such an endeavor.There were those nights when I had sleep-over company, and was up past all hours of sane folk, and remembered just as my weary head hit the pillow. I’d throw off the covers with grim determination and switch on the light by my bed—much to the annoyance of my company, no doubt—and a rather bleary-eyed reading of Psalms and Proverbs would ensue.Or the times when I was overseas on mission trips and had to be up before the birds. I was practically reading as I brushed my teeth.

Not one day in ten years did I miss. Not one. Not my wedding day; not my honeymoon; not the day I set up housekeeping in my new home. I was absolutely rigorous. My husband was amazed, and frankly, so was I. I think I may have even allowed myself to imagine that God was amazed, too, though I’d never have admitted it.

And then, one day, I forgot. It was a perfectly normal day. We went to bed at a reasonable hour. But the next morning I awoke with a little shriek of dismay.

“Philip, I forgot! I forgot to have my devotions!”

He looked at me for a moment with a funny smile creeping over his face.

“I am so glad,” he said.

I scowled at his off-handedness. But even as I did a strange sort of release began to steal over me. I was glad, too. It was a tremendous relief.

A very silly and perhaps very extreme case. But it showed me so clearly how eager I am to make a spiritual prop of anything close at hand. Even something as well-intentioned—and necessary, I might add—as my quiet time. When I really thought about it, I saw that my time with God had actually become my time with my devotions, a check on my to-do list.

It can happen with anything: church attendance, acts of service, lifestyle choices. And when something that we originally committed to out of simple love for God becomes a mindless routine it has a very ugly name: Legalism. I learned with my little overthrow that God does not love me one iota more if I spend an hour reading the Bible every day. Or any less if I’m just too busy to more than cry out for His help before my feet hit the floor in the morning. What matters to Him is my love for Him, my desperation for Him.

My devotions are still, or should I say, once again, the dearest part of my day. Mine once more is that first flush of wonder that God Almighty would even want to spend time with me. And it doesn’t hurt to have asweet little accountability partner to spur one along the way. But some days it doesn’t happen. Just like many other of our best-laid plans for life. And you know what? God is still right there. He still wants my heart, my first love. He still stands up for me and provides a refuge for me amid the storms of the day. And there’s a beautiful name for that: Grace.

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11 Comments

  1. Thanks for re-posting this one. It is one of my favorites!

  2. So timely to my life today. I remember being astounded by this when it first debuted four years ago (oh how different was my life then! I was just learning how to have devotions at that time not how to make time for them). Thank you once again, Lanier, for sharing your heart and touching mine!

  3. Thank you so much for this repost! So often I find myself just going through the motions, instead of really, truly wanting to seek the Lord.

  4. Avatar Elijah Lofgren says:

    I can relate!!

    Thank you so much for sharing this! My sister Anna told me about this as I was mentioning that I hadn’t done devotions yesterday.

  5. Well said! Its so hard no to let something like devotions, or even prayer become just a “daily routine”. Yet the longer we just do it for the sake of doing it, we become just what Jesus asked us not to be- religious. He asks us for a real, living and thriving relationship with Him, and that means making mistakes, forgetting sometimes, and being human. The point is to continuely grow and draw closer to Christ, not to meet some goal of “most scripture read in one year”.
    Thank you for reminding us to keep our eyes and minds focused on Christ Lanier!
    ~Katie

  6. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Excellent post, Lanier! That perfectly summed up what my quiet time used to be like. The only difference is that if I missed a day, I’d just shrug it off.

    Having a quiet time with the Lord had became almost like a chore for me. I did it because I knew that it was the right thing to do, and not because I loved God and wanted to be in His presence.

    This went on for a while until about the middle of July. Being bored one day, I pulled down “A Young Woman After God’s Own Heart” by Elizabeth George. As I began to read the first chapter (which was about spendng more time with Lord!), the Lord began to work in my heart. It was then that I began to want to spend time with Him!!! The change in my spiritual life was absloutely amazing!!! And I’m here to say that in just three weeks, my walk with the Lord had made a 180 degree turn, and I just couldn’t get enough of Him!!

    I just thank and give Him all the praise and glory for the work that He did and is continuing to do in my heart and life.

    Allison

  7. What a wonderful reminder, Lanier! This perfectionist also needs help remembering that devotions aren’t done to check something off a to-do list! I’m learning. . .

  8. Avatar Lauren Elizabeth Smith says:

    Thank you, Lanier! I too am a perfectionist, and know how easy it is to turn things like devotions–a privilege given to us by God Himself–into a stubborn act of legalism. Thanks for the encouraging post.

  9. Such good thoughts, Lanier! This sounds so very much like something I would/did do. Natalie had told me this story a couple months ago, and I’ve told a few people since. A perfect example of the fact that anything, no matter how seemingly good, can turn “bad” when we put the action itself above Jesus.

  10. Avatar ShelleyMariee says:

    Oh, Lanier, what a great post! I’ve been thinking about grace a lot lately. Sometimes I get into routines of doing things, and I suddenly find myself just doing them to get them done, not out of devotion for God. What a beautiful statement: “Mine once more is that first flush of wonder that God Almighty would even want to spend time with me.” I think that helps to get the heart right once again- it points to the relationship, and not rules we make:-) Thanks for the post!

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