20 Tips For Personal Devotions in the Digital Age

Meeting with God before we meet with the digital world is crucial.

Take guilt to God: Mention devotions to most Christians and the guilt meter goes straight to red: guilt over failure to do them, guilt over lack of profit in them, guilt over rushing through them. As there’s nothing so motivating as starting with a clean sheet, let’s take all our guilt to God and find the energy and freedom that comes from a full and free forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

 

Yesterday we looked at 18 Obstacles to A Devotional Life in the Digital Age. Today I want to give you some tips to keep your spiritual head above the water in the face of the digital deluge.

1. Take guilt to God: Mention devotions to most Christians and the guilt meter goes straight to red: guilt over failure to do them, guilt over lack of profit in them, guilt over rushing through them. As there’s nothing so motivating as starting with a clean sheet, let’s take all our guilt to God and find the energy and freedom that comes from a full and free forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

2. Get to bed early: The main reason why people skip devotions is going to bed so late that they cannot get up in time in the morning to read and pray.

3. Turn off your phone and avoid computer: It’s absolutely vital that you meet with God before anyone else in the day. Keep your mind free of digital distractions.

4. Have a shower and eat breakfast first: Refresh yourself by getting the blood flowing and the blood sugar levels rising.

5. Don’t share your daily devotions in social media: This changes the whole nature of the communion and communication between you and God because you are thinking “How can I FB or Tweet this?” Keep it just between you and God.

6. Establish regular time and place: For the vast majority this will be first thing in the morning before everyone else is up. Ideally a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and where you will not disturb others.

7. Build a systematic routine: Read consecutively in the OT and NT so that you are exposed to the whole counsel of God. There are various Bible reading plans available. If you don’t plan and map out your journey, you won’t get there.

8. Vary the routine: Although you should have a general routine that you stick to, every few months add a bit of variety by maybe reading a book more slowly, or study a book with the help of a commentary, or memorize a chapter, and then go back to the routine again.

9. Read easier parts together with more difficult parts: For example, don’t get stuck reading Leviticus without also reading say one of the Gospels at the same time.

10. Start a short prayer list: Not too long so that it dominates the whole prayer and becomes like a shopping list. Don’t feel obliged to pray for everyone every day. Sometimes pray for just one person in detail.

11. Sing and speak out loud: Singing awakens and enlivens the soul. Reading and praying out loud avoids half-hearted reading and mumbling jumblings in prayer.

12. Turn your songs and Bible readings into prayer: Pause at verses and ponder how to make this a prayer.

13. Learn from set prayers: I don’t like using formal prayers written by someone else, but I can read them to see how others pray and discover what elements I’ve been missing in my prayers.

14. Be careful with Study Bibles and Daily Devotionals: These are sometimes good when you don’t have a clue what the passage means. However, don’t let them become a substitute for prayerfully seeking God’s help to understand His Word. Don’t let someone else do your thinking for you.

15. Start small: Don’t go from doing nothing to spending an hour on devotions. You’ll never keep that up. Start with 5-10 mins and slowly increase to 20-30 minutes.

16. Journal: Don’t write a novel; instead write down a sentence or two or a verse that struck you while reading. Don’t make this too big or you won’t keep it up. Regularly review what you’ve written.

17. Dads, help young Moms: If Mom can’t find the time in busy mornings, then each evening you need to relieve and release her for 30 minutes or so to be on her own with the Lord. Why not each read the same passages and then you can share your thoughts with each other over supper.

18. Fight formality and self-righteousness: Pray for God’s blessing and that He would prevent this blessing turning into a curse by it becoming just a formal routine or else a source of pride.

19. Learn meditation: And if you want some tips on meditating on Scripture have a look at Meditation: 10 Motives and 10-Step Method

20. Don’t end the devotional life: Try to carry it on into the day. Perhaps write a verse to keep in your pocket and refer to every time you eat or wait in a line. Write it at the top of your to-do list. Look at it before you seep at night.

Read #1 again, and again, and again.

 

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This article  is used with permission.