by Ken Braddy
Having a daily devotional time with God requires a plan of action.
So you’d like to begin spending time with God daily? It’s a noble goal and one that every Christian should strive for. Maybe daily devotional reading was your New Year’s resolution and you’ve yet to start. Perhaps you’ve just had a spiritual mountaintop experience and you want to fan into flame the passion you feel for God and His Word. Whatever it is that has moved you to act, you’ll have a better chance of developing a daily habit of time with God if you follow these seven tips for nurturing a daily devotional time with God.
1. Pick a time for your devotional reading. Make it a priority by calendaring it as you would any other important meeting. We set appointments for much less important things like oil changes, haircuts, and lunches. How much more important is it to have a daily time with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? The Creator is available to meet with you … are you ready to meet with Him? Set a specific time to meet with Him daily and stick to it.
2. Pick a place for your devotional reading. I have a favorite recliner in my home … it’s “mine.” I love to begin my day by sitting in this particular chair with my Bible near me, my copy of Stand Firm (a men’s devotional), and a cup of coffee. I find that meeting with God in the same place each day is helpful and helps me to build memories of what God says during my daily devotional time with Him.
3. Pick an accountability partner. When you are trying to establish a new habit, it helps to have someone hold you accountable. I want one or two people to have permission to ask me how my daily devotional time is going, what God is saying to me, and whether or not I’m keeping my appointments with God.
4. Tell others. Let your Bible study group, spouse, close friend, or children know what you are about to attempt. It is amazing how much more devoted you will be to having a devotional time with God when you know others are watching you to see if you are really serious about it.
5. Don’t skip a day. This is not to be legalistic, but to make sure that you don’t give yourself an “out.” If you choose to have your daily devotional time early in the morning, say 6 a.m., you know that you can’t do it if you keep hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock. You may be tempted to skip a day and spend extra time with God the next day, but making up lost time rarely happens, and once time is lost, it’s lost. Don’t talk yourself out of meeting with God, and don’t give yourself permission to skip a day. Do a Google search on creating habits and you’ll find plenty of evidence that repeating a habit 21 to 28 days in a row is significant in forming an ongoing habit. Some people may need a little longer than that, but the point is, be consistent and don’t skip a day.
6. Reward yourself. While meeting with God is its own reward of course, consider giving yourself small incentives for consistently having your daily devotional time. For instance, at the end of your first seven days of consistently meeting with God, take yourself out for coffee or a special dessert. Do something like this at the end of each week, and perhaps build up to something big, like buying yourself a new Bible that will become a part of your daily devotional time, and a reminder of your commitment to meeting with God.
7. Persist. Let’s face it, our schedules are busy and we lead “time compressed” lives. If you do miss a daily devotional time, don’t give up and count yourself a failure. Forgive yourself, recommit, and begin again. Don’t stop having a daily devotional time. That’s exactly what the enemy would like you to do … so don’t.
Beginning a daily devotional time with God can truly be a life-changing experience. You have every possibility of growing closer to the Lord than ever before as you get to know Him through prayer and the reading of His Word. Your time with God will be motivated by your deep love for Him and the grace He has poured out on your life, not just keeping an appointment so that you can check a box. Allow yourself to experience the blessings of spending time with your Savior and allow Him to transform your heart so that you reflect the image of Christ to others in your family, neighborhood, and workplace.
Ken Braddy is manager of LifeWay’s ongoing adult Bible studies, magazines, and devotionals. He regularly uses Stand Firm, LifeWay’s men’s devotional, in his daily time with God. This article originally appeared at Lifeway.com.