It is Friday, my normal day off. It is the day when I have the most flexibility and opportunity in my life to reflect, workout, take care of life’s pesky issues that creep up on us all (ie. dry cleaning, bill paying, car wash etc, etc, etc). I say all this to set-up a thought on our devotional lives. For years I lived under a guilt ridden idea that each day had to be some sort of “mountain top” devotional experience in terms of time, effort, and results. All of this came into clearer perspective after hearing a talk by Jan Johnson on a contemplative lifestyle. She encouraged allowing your devotional life to follow the normal rythms of your week. Along with Jan, many of my seminary professors helped me to expand the notion of a devotional life to be a mind-set and not a set of activities.
Let me explain a bit more from my personal experience. My week, and probably yours too, is a mix of high activity, meetings, deadlines and responsibilities. Friday is about the only day on a regular basis that I have to really sit and think for an extended (2+ hours) time. I therefore use this day to spend elongated time reading, journaling, and listening. My natural devotional rythm is built around Fridays. The remainder of the week, I take what life gives me. It may mean a Psalm and a prayer time, it may mean a Podcast sermon, it may mean reading an inspirational thought from a book or blog. The key for me is to remain in a devotional mind-set as I go through my day (ie. listening for God) and not beat myself up because I couldn’t read 5 chapters. Speed devotionals (rushing through so that we can check it off our list) are self-defeating propositions and border on worshipping the activity and not God.
The fine line I walk with is that of priorities. Some may say, if God was more of a priority then time would not be an issue. I agree to a certain extent. But I have found in my own life that I drift toward worshipping the set of activities (bible reading, prayer) rather than worshipping God when I don’t embrace a seasonal approach to my devotional life. This, quite honestly, is a growing edge for me. Something I am working through on a personal basis. What I am attempting to share is my own personal struggles with this issue and not a “how-to” book.
Remember, our goal in life is to become more Christ-like. God has provided “means” of grace, pathways to intimacy, that include Bible reading, prayer, fellowship, worship, communion and many, many others. It is through these activities that the grace of God pours into our lives conforming us to the image of Christ. Therefore, it is imperative, if we are intent on being Christ followers, for us to engage in these activities “constantly”. The journey continues.