Faith, Spiritual Life, Theology

Why I Don’t Love Devotionals

June 3, 2015

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Growing up, my family went to every weekly church event. For me this meant Sunday school, children’s church, choir practice, church supper, GA/RA’s (it’s okay if you don’t know what this is) and Bible Drill. I loved church, but once I hit about 10 years old, I went through a church burnout.

One afternoon while I played Tetris on our ginormous computer, as my parents told me to get ready for church, I gave them what I thought was a valid reason as for why I didn’t need to go to church. They still do not let me forget what I told them 15 years ago.

I simply said, in a bit of a sassy tone, “But I already know everything in the Bible.”

What was my little 10 year old mind thinking?!?! Yes, this is humorous because I actually believed what I said, but also, ironic because as I am finishing seminary this year, I feel like I have more to learn about the Bible than I ever have before.

When I was 10 years old, I wasn’t reading the Bible on my own, others were reading it for me. Once I got a little older and started reading the Bible on my own, I struggled to read it consistently and then actually apply what I was learning when I did read it.

Then I discovered devotionals. Wow. Those were nice. You could read one verse, a short paragraph about the verse, a scripted prayer and feel good about completing your “quiet time” for the day. Plus, the devotionals didn’t include the “boring” verses and passages…

Okay, so I am being a bit sarcastic. The devotionals did help me get a tiny tip of my toes wet to read the Bible and think through application, but I was on a surface-level type of relationship with God. It’s kind of like if God were to have an Instagram and I followed him and even interacted with him on his pictures but actually never met him. Cheesy, I know, but true.

I don’t want to completely hate on devotionals. I recommend them at times. And sometimes I read them in addition with my own time of reading God’s word daily. The danger of them is when we neglect reading God’s word for ourselves because we are reading someone else’s words about God’s word.

I don’t want a devotional to mediate MY relationship with God, ABBA, MY Father.

Are Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling” words divinely inspired? No.

Are She Read Truth’s words divinely inspired? No.

Even my favorite devotional by Elyse Fitzpatrick? No.

I am glad that women are speaking out about the importance of reading and applying God’s word, but we have to be careful to not read just ABOUT the Bible by imperfect humans instead of reading the perfect, always true, words of the living God. (2 Timothy 3:16)

God has chosen to reveal himself to us through HIS word. He has given you letters and books that are inspired by God and are not flawed or erred. If you received a letter from your best friend or boyfriend, family, etc. would you just read one sentence in the middle of it and put it down for the day?? NO! You would want to read the entire letter to get the whole message or context. It’s even more so true with the living and active word of God (Hebrews 4:12).

As Jesus-followers, we have God’s Spirit dwelling inside of us who illuminates the scripture for us to hear intimately and personally from the God of the Universe! The entire Bible reveals to us who God is and how he wants to work in us. This includes the boring parts and the more interesting parts. If we really believe the Bible is completely God’s word then why would we want to ignore or neglect certain parts that we don’t like?! That would make us trying to be equal with God.

God’s word has changed me. It brings me life every day. It pierces my soul. It revitalizes me when I am weary. And it gives me joy and energy because it reminds me of my purpose for each day, and for the rest of my life.

Have you given God’s word a chance to change you?

If you haven’t read the Bible on your own before, are struggling with reading the Bible consistently, or just need help with where to start reading (which is true for everyone!), let me give you some suggestions that have helped me form a daily habit of reading the Bible:

  1. Start reading a book in the Bible that you want to read. Some good books to start with are John, or any of the gospels, Ephesians or any of the “smaller” books (technically they are letters) in the New Testament, also the Psalms or Proverbs. Or you can combine and read a book in the Old Testament and New Testament.
  2. Start with reading just a little at a time. If you go through Psalm, read 1 Psalm a day. If you go through John, read one passage or part of the chapter a day and just continue every day reading through the book.
  3. Don’t start by trying to read the Bible all the way through, beginning in Genesis. That’s tough for me to do too. And don’t be discouraged if you have tried that and had to stop. God has given us freedom in where to start reading! It helps to read in order from where you start, but I would suggest starting in the New Testament.
  4. Whatever you read for the day, read it a couple of times or more. Ask yourself questions like, “What is the author saying in these verses?”, “What is this revealing to me about God?”, “What is God teaching me or telling me through these verses?”
  5. Journal what you are learning as you read. Journal prayers to God from the verses, whether you use the verses to pray back to God like Psalm since it is a prayer, or just ask God to help you remember the words you are reading for the day.
  6. I hope A Girl Like Me never becomes a resource for you that would replace your daily time with God. Some other godly women advocate this same hope. I would recommend Jen Wilkin who has published a very useful book on studying God’s word on your own. Also If Equip is a very helpful resource if you want guidance on where to start reading on your own.

I would encourage you to read Psalm 19 before you move on from this post. Look it up in Google if you don’t have a Bible near you. Today I am praying that those words would be true in the heart of A Girl Like Me readers, meaning YOU!

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Where are you reading in God’s word currently?

 

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  • A Worn Girl June 3, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    My bible study just finished up for the school year and we were in Luke. Also, daily bible apps are great because they give you a verse a day and I’ve found many of those very encouraging. <3

    • Allison @ AGLM June 3, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      I have found reading plans very helpful too!! I’m glad you are studying God’s word :)

  • Allison Mozingo June 3, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    For 2015, I’m going through the Psalms and I also dig into the Scriptures in Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling. Both of these together have wonderfully spoken directly into my life on a day to day basis.
    His Word is living and active. It corrects you, convicts you, encourages you, and romances you.

    • Allison @ AGLM June 3, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      I LOVE the Psalms!!! There so much life and realness in them!

  • Janette Peggins June 3, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I have been reading through the old and new Testament, but I’m about a week behind. I don’t have a reason to be behind but I am. Although I figured out on my Bible app that it can read it to you, so I might try doing that. I know I might get distracted, but I feel like it drags on if I just read it. I probably end up doing both though. Thanks for your thoughts on this!

    • Allison @ AGLM June 3, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Sometimes if I am on a long drive, I really appreciate the voice reading on the bible app!! Highly recommend it!

  • Isabel June 3, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    I’m starting to consider Seminary, but I’m not entirely sure which institutions I should be looking at and what I should be looking for. Questions for my academic advisor of course, but I was wondering if you could help shed some light on the subject as well.
    Thank you for your posts <3

    • Allison @ AGLM June 4, 2015 at 12:52 am

      Isabel, I would love to talk with you about that!

      Send me an email agirlikemee@gmail.com and I will share some info with you about it!

  • offbeat on purpose June 3, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    I would love to reblog your post. I’m currently reading and blogging what I read about hope in the Bible.

    • Allison @ AGLM June 4, 2015 at 12:52 am

      Sure! Thanks! Glad you are doing the same :)

  • Jenna June 4, 2015 at 4:07 am

    I decided to read through the whole bible in 2015, and I’ve fallen a bit behind… Like a month behind. This past couple of weeks I’ve been relying on devontional type books and things to “make up” for not reading my bible. You’ve encouraged me to actaually start picking up my bible now :)

    • Allison @ AGLM June 4, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      Jenna, I am glad that it was encouraging to you! I also want to encourage you that God wants you to enjoy reading His Word. He also gives us freedom, not rules or regulations for reading His word, so start reading where you want to read. Don’t feel like you have to keep up with a certain plan or amount. I have found that when I try to follow certain reading, I feel guilty or frustrated when I can’t keep up, but that is certainly not what God wants us to feel as his beloved children! Enjoy it and take your time reading it, whatever leads you to worship HIM!

  • Kate June 4, 2015 at 4:59 am

    My story is almost the opposite of yours. I came to know and love Jesus through the faithful witness of my grandmother, and instantly became obsessed with the word of God. She taught me to read before kindergarten because my parents weren’t Christians and the once a week I spent at her house was not enough. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover dozens of times since then and memorized chapters and even whole books. This year, I started the “change your mind” plan, where you read a book of the Bible 20 times. And then another. And so on. I’ve added on by writing a haiku for each book of the Bible. I’m alternating OT and NT, so I started in Genesis, moved to Matthew, and am finding myself in Ruth now. It really is a truly transformative way to read the Bible. I’ve found that coupling the reading with memorization is a good balance. When I left high school and was consistently around other Christians for the first time, it baffled me that people had a hard time reading the Bible! I would love to grow in the word for another 50 or 60 years of every day reading.

    • Allison @ AGLM June 4, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      Kate, that is amazing!!!!! I am so encouraged to hear the way God is working in you! I would LOVE to see some of those haikus! Email them to us if you ever get a chance agirlikemee@gmail.com :)