A quick search of Ezine, Google or Amazon using “Daily Devotions” as your search terms will reveal hundreds of articles, blogs, websites and books on the subject. Why? Probably many reasons, but one is certainly that you are not alone in struggling to keep to a regular pattern of daily devotions and are hunting for an answer. ALL Christians are looking for a pattern of prayer, a way of doing a quiet time, that will fulfil their needs, keep them both disciplined and inspired, AND (here’s the crunch) fit into the routine of their daily lives without sacrificing still more sleep at the beginning of the day.
It sounds like a tall order doesn’t it.
Well, at the risk of being charged with heresy, I’m going to tell you that for many, it is.
It’s assumed that every Christian is capable of setting aside enough time for a fruitful quiet time every day when the truth is far from it. Throughout my ministry I have met and been contacted by Christians who for a whole variety of reasons simply cannot keep daily devotions or find them unhelpful. They not only feel deeply guilty, they also think that their relationship with God is being stunted, that they are unspiritual and ‘not a proper Christian’.
But you don’t have to linger in a second-class relationship with God. There is hope, because doing daily devotions is actually not the only way to sustain an intimate and meaningful relationship with God.
Throughout Christian history there have been spiritual writers with a closeness to God who have explored the way our relationship with Him works. Many of those have realised that our connection to God does not depend upon spending a precise amount of time set aside each day or getting exactly the right devotional commentary. It’s a perpetual relationship with an ever-present God, and both parts of that statement are significant.
Now I know you’ve got the quiet-time teaching going round in your head, with stuff about tuning up orchestras, spending quality time with God, getting your daily bread and whole host of other stuff, but the truth is, Jesus said, “I am with you always”. If you look it up, that word “always” actually means “always”, not just in half-an-hour of bleary eyed, yawning prayer first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Conscious of it or not, he is with you every single moment of your day, which means every moment of the day is quality time with God. You can turn to Him at any moment, and a single moment of prayer can have all the power of a half-hour quiet time.
It’s an idea that’s been explored by writers like Brother Lawrence in the “Practice of the Presence” and Thomas R Kelly in “A Testament of Devotion”. I explore the idea more fully in my book, “The Nearest: Devotion Not Devotions”. One thing I have learned, you don’t need to give up the idea of living a devoted life just because you don't do daily devotions. You can still have a close relationship with God.
Friday, 12 August 2011
Lord, your glory fills the skies;
A blazing glory of gold-trimmed nimbus
The promise of eternal hope;
A clear blue glory, of unobscured light;
A gentler glory of subtler hues,
Of grey and falling rain,
Stretched across the earth,
And touching every horizon
Where human feet walk their paths,
And human hands reach up in prayer,
To God whose glory freed from heaven’s lofty heights,
Fills our hearts with praise.
Tim Ross, 2011