Sometimes anxiety begins to swell and consume my thoughts. In times of what can feel like a mental hurricane, I almost always can trace me inward chaos to a lack of consistently prioritizing a devotional time, that is, setting aside time to seek God through prayer and scripture.
Intimacy with God quiets our souls and clears the chaos.
Jesus often slipped away to lonely places to pray (Luke 5:16). If the God of the Universe, made flesh, set solitude and prayer as a priority to seek the Father—we know we can benefit from a similar practice.
But what do we DO in devotional time?
But what can devotional time look like?
What helpful habits can we practice in devotional time?
What to include in your devotional time?
Devotional time is a place to seek God and develop intimacy with him. I suggest including four things.
- Prayer. Prayer is simply talking with God and pausing to listen to his still small voice. In my own life, sometimes the Spirit responds with a Bible verse that comes to mind, or clarity on how to handle a situation in a God-honoring way. Sometimes his voice is an idea that pops in my head that I know is not from myself, but is helpful to what I prayed about. The more we pray and listen, the more we discern his guidance in prayer.
- Scripture. God’s word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It is his breath, speaking into our hearts and flowing out into our lives when we apply its truths (2 Timothy 3:16–17). When possible, devotional times should include reading and pondering the Bible.
- Undistracted time. Devotional spaces and time should be away from distractions as much as possible. When I was a young mom with babies and toddlers, this was not possible—but even if your life is in high demand, we can still make the effort for moments of silence and solitude (even if its just a few seconds in the shower).
- A place for notes. Maybe you keep a journal or write in the margins of a Bible—whatever your method, having a place to write down thoughts, insights, and scripture can help us soak in what we are hearing and learning during times of solitude.
How to Have a Devotional Time
Choose a place and time.
Choose a consistent place and time you will daily pray and meditate on scripture in your devotional time. Any time is better than no time, but I encourage you to give yourself at least 15 minutes, if not more. Same place, same time, every day. This builds a rhythm/habit for the foundation of your spiritual life.
Begin your devotional time time with the Lord in prayer. Praise Him. Invite Him to dwell with you. Confess any known sin and ask forgiveness. Yield your heart to listen to him in his Word.
Read a scripture passage in your devotional time. Maybe following a reading plan (Bible App), or read through a book of the Bible passage by passage (no rush! This is not a race). Highlight/mark what sticks out to you.
Reflect & Journal:
Write down insights, thoughts, convictions, questions in your devotional time. Again, no “one way” to do this right, but journaling helps the brain slow down to listen to the Spirit and soak in the truth of what you read. Here are some prompts to help.
- What verse stuck out to you. Write it out.
- Why do you think this verse might stick out to you? Journal about it.
- Any conviction or insight that sprang to your mind? Write that down.
- Summarize the passage(s) in your journal. What is the text saying?
- Write down observations: who, what, where, when, why, how? Notice repeated words, images, truths, attitudes, verbs, nouns, descriptions, etc.
- Any questions? Write those down.
- Any prayer you can pray from the truth of the passage?
- What is at least 1 truth about God, humanity, the spiritual realm, life, etc. that you can see from the text? Write down your thought with the verse.
- Pause to listen to the Spirit: How are you going to practice living out scripture today? Write “Today, I will. . .” and finish the sentence.
Close your time of Bible reading in prayer in your devotional time. You might include: your convictions or insights from your reflection time, burdens on your heart, worship, or praying for others. Sit in his presence. Re-read a verse and pray about that verse. Yield to the Spirit’s guidance through the truth of God’s word.