Tuesday, September 08, 2009

meeting with God

Devotions is something evangelicals are known for, not that that many of us practice it. It's called "personal devotions," and is a time when one gets into Scripture, a passage in God's word, and prays. It is normally done in quiet, and so is also called "my quiet time." Many use a booklet such as Our Daily Bread (I work where this is written, and made, and know some of the writers).

I think some such practice can be helpful if it's a time of one seeking to come near to God, and hear God's voice so as to follow. If one wants some sort of mystical experience or encounter with God, then it will likely be unfruitful over the long haul, because it would be beneficial only as part of one's walk of faith, and devotion to God. If practiced it should become precious and important as a chief priority, because one is seeking to be close to God. And Jesus who is our example often got up mornings, early, to meet with the Father.

If I had been raised in a denomination that used liturgical prayer, I would be prone to want to use a prayer book for such times on a regular basis- and even though not, I do want to. There are advantages to that, and it does get one into Scripture, as well. One ends up praying the same prayers others have. We need both our own words, and the words of others who have come up with helpful, Scriptural ways of praying. Those words in time are helpful in that they can become our own words to God, praying those same words with other believers who use the same book.

But if from these practices we expect something dramatic in and out from our lives, we won't keep it up. It's rather a question of priority, as we seek to live close to the person of God, and be open to God at all times. Not comfortable oftentimes, but for those who really practice this, they will more and more become settled in it as a part of them. And as part of their life in God through Christ.

Two caveats here. First, I myself haven't practiced any kind of personal devotions for years. And even when I did, it was probably not kept up consistently. Or was done rather poorly, perhaps legalistically as in just doing something with little heart in it, and being done with it. I failed to see the value in it. Not to say I haven't had special times of drawing near to God. And we must beware of a spirituality that is all about us and God. We will hear God's voice in part only through others. God chooses it that way, because God, who as Trinity is community, values community among us.

We need to be those who are daily seeking to draw near and devote ourselves to God, no matter how we do it. The word of God and prayer are important for this, and good use of a prayer book can help. I speak as one who seeks to do it throughout the day, and in the course of a day. But I'm beginning to see the value of having those special times, along with that.

How about any reader here? What would you like to share from your own life on this? Or any thoughts.


lorenzothellama said...

Have you ever read Julian of Norwich? I think you would find that a really good book on devotion. The name of the book is 'Revelations of Divine Love'. I'm sure you can google it.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I keep hearing the name, maybe some in the past from you. I'll have to give it a look. Sometimes those writings are hard for me to persevere through, due to lack of time and other things I need to get done.

Have you spent much time in it?

Lanny said...

I think it is humorous that this is the post I come back from vacation on. I have always had huge problems with "Devotions".

I do come from a liturgical background where prayer (mostly written but some off the cuff and personal) and reading scripture (some prescribed for the day some just for personal insight) along with reading of others' lives, experiences and insights were practiced.

But the concept of an actual time of devotion rather rubbed me the wrong way. Or that particular practices were referred to as "devotion". I was under the impression that all time was God's and that we devoted our lives to Him, that every activity we did was as holy as the others.

I think it is when we attend to this and not blocks of time for God, that we begin to see dramatic things happen in our lives. But they may not necessarily become the things we oft call dramatic, may not get us written up in Christianity Tribune, but it becomes dramatic because we begin to see that God is engaged with us in absolutely everything.

But yes, we need to read His word, as well as think about those very words while we fold laundry or change the oil in the car. We need to kneel and pray as well as talk to him about the spray on the flowers or the dull blades on the mower.

Sorry this is so long but I've been away thinking and conversing with close friends and this subject comes up a few times.

Every Square Inch said...

My initial reaction is that you need personal devotions because it's a means of receiving from God, receiving His words of encouragement, warning, wisdom.

Relating to Him throughout the day is a wonderful practice but so is personal devotions. It's like relating to my wife - I like talking to her throughout the week but it's nice to have undistracted time with her on our date nights.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I think I tend to see it the way you're expressing it here. All the day I should be drawing near to God, and endeavoring to walk with God.

But I surely can still learn significantly from those who practice their "devotions," or "quiet times."

Thanks for all your words.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks. Yes, I can surely do better. What I actually do during a private devotional time is actually what I more or less try to do all day, as much as I can. I tend to fall asleep or get into some sort of rut. A discipline and some monastic wisdom is probably in order for me, but your words are good, and well taken.


nannykim said...

I have always had a quiet time and our family has a daily devotional time together each day. I have found both of these immensely helpful. I find I constantly need the Word of God as a light and as a tool for searching my heart and for prayer. I find the Word of God is powerful especially when I take it and pray with it for myself and my kids, and my hubby.

I am in a liturgical church now. I find the old prayers very rich and helpful. ...especially during the service. I use some of them each day in my prayer time, too.

I feel like my devotions are like a bath. I bath my body with water daily. I bath my heart, mind, soul with His word and seek His presence. I am also trying to walk in His presence all day....that is to be aware of His presence and be more focused on Him and prayer.

You do these daily posts--they must be coming out of some kind of devotional thinking (I am confused)

Hey a note on the daily bread--my father-in-law who had a stroke loves the daily bread. He carries it in his front pocket and when he has to wait for something he takes it out and reads it. He just told me again today how he has been blessed by this. So pass this on to your fellow workers.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for the note on ODB. Glad it's a blessing to your father-in-law.

Yes, I wish I had more of those liturgical prayers before me. They are rich and enrichening. Those not in such a tradition don't know what they're missing, and I don't know enough on that.

As to my own "devotional" life, I don't know. I think I used to have personal devotions fairly regularly once upon a time.

I just tend to see my whole day as lived in the presence of God. But I would not deny that I would do better to have a regular time with God. Even with a "Book of Common Prayer," or the like, along with the word.

Thanks for sharing from your life here.