Fort Myer, Va., Area Chaplains' Corner: Devoting time with God
July 9, 2009
- Regular Pentagram column features National Capital Region chaplains' commentaries
- A simple way to have more time with the God of your understanding
- Experiment, start small and enjoy devotions
I learned a long time ago that I needed to have daily devotions with God. I'm not always good at it so I need help. The help I recently received was by an anonymous author on the Internet, and I found his thoughts were very appropriate. I'd like to share them in this article today:
The phrases "doing devotions" or "having devotions" may sound foreign or weird to some. These phrases are simply ways to describe spending time with God by reading the Bible and other faith-based literature and also praying.
Why bother to read scriptures and pray' Why is having a regular time with God important' I believe it is because we spend time with God in order to deepen our relationship with the Creator who yearns to be with us.
But, we are all different, and because each of us has a special relationship with God, no one devotional pattern will work for everyone; and no one way works for anyone all of the time.
A suggestion might be to experiment until you find the time of day, the format and the length of time spent that helps you feel connected with God. Perhaps these tips will be helpful to you as you begin your journey in devotions:
Aca,!Ac Begin your devotional time by quieting yourself. Take a few deep breaths and become still. Some people light a candle or say a simple prayer such as "Oh God, open my heart to hear your message to me in the words I read."
Aca,!Ac Then, read a short passage in the scriptures and some additional reading such as the many faith-based devotion guides you can choose from today. These can help you connect the words of the Bible with concerns of everyday life.
Aca,!Ac At the end of your reading time, be silent and wait to see what words, feelings, or images rise in your heart or tug at your thoughts. Notice what situations or people come to mind.
Aca,!Ac Consider how the words or images connect with your life; then pray and ask God to help you to see what He may be saying to you through what you have read, thought and felt.
Aca,!Ac Say a prayer, asking God to help you follow the guidance you have received and to be with the people who came to mind during your reading and reflection.
You may want to record your thoughts and feelings in a notebook or journal to help you remember what God has been saying to you. Many people find it helpful to write about concerns and to write a prayer as a way to end their devotional time.
If you are just beginning to take time for reading scriptures and praying, plan to spend about 10 minutes. As you become more comfortable with the process, you may find yourself spending a longer time.
Start small though, and don't start off planning to spend 30 or 45 minutes. Keep it manageable. Don't set impossible goals such as reading an entire chapter of the Bible three times a day, every day. Choose a discipline that you can stick with.
Remember the value of having a pattern. Finding a regular time and place to read the Bible and the day's meditation helps most people be more consistent in turning their heart to God. Regularity can become a rhythm that comforts, and having a familiar time and place may help you to settle into God's presence more easily.
Remember the value of being flexible. Doing exactly the same things in the same way can become stale over time. If events in your day interfere with your usual pattern, find another time to read and reflect. Don't let a pattern control you and cause you discomfort. The point is to spend time with God, not to do this in a particular way.
Be creative. Try something new from time to time. Here are some possibilities: Read your meditation outside. Write your prayers in a journal. Take a "prayer walk" with the intent of looking for God, and pray in response to the people and situations that come to mind as you walk. Listen to music of faith and talk to God about what it brings to mind.
The most important thing to remember as we try to grow closer to God is that God is already reaching out to us. God is the one who gives us the desire to grow and God wants us to grow.
We just keep showing up, even when we don't particularly feel holy or loving or eager. And we can trust that if we do so, God will show up, too.