Lesson 3 – Pray as you go: daily devotions
Prayer isn’t an option for a Christian, it’s a necessity—a lifeline to God. Prayer strengthens and guides you as you wrestle with difficult decisions, endure periods of discouragement, and fight the temptations that are so much a part of life.
Think about the unusual characteristics of prayer. It is portable. No matter where you are or what circumstances surround you, prayer is there for the asking. It goes with you to work, can be called on during a confrontation, is available as you sit at the bedside of a sick friend, and can rejuvenate you for the next task on your to-do list.
Prayer is also personal. There is no single, universal way to pray. Like the dialogue between two special friends, the communication that occurs between you and God is unique. It addresses your concerns, your day, your feelings, your relationship with your heavenly father.
Prayer is very private. Someone once injected humor in the ongoing argument about prayer in public school. The observer stated that “as long as there are tests in public schools, there will be prayer in public schools.” It’s true! You can pray silently and fervently in a roomful of people without anyone’s knowledge. You can shut the door on the busyness of the world, retreat into prayer, and ask for guidance, strength, humility, and patience. (Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”)
Finally, prayer is powerful. How often the Bible assures us of the power of prayer.
√ I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will
heal thee. (2 Kings 20:5, kjv)
√ Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered. (Joel 2:32, kjv)
√ Every one that asketh receiveth.(Matthew 7:8, Luke 11:10, kjv)
Guidelines For Daily Devotions
As you continue to stretch and grow in Christ, you will discover the importance of setting aside time for daily devotions. Perhaps you’ll prefer the early morning when the house is quiet. Or maybe the evening will be best, right before bedtime. As you experiment with times and places for private worship, consider these seven guidelines.
Commit to a time.
Our English word devotion comes from a Latin term that means “to vow” or “to promise.” A daily devotion is a time that you have set aside and promised to spend with God in worship. Think of it as a standing appointment that is important because someone is waiting for you. And be assured—God is.
Choose a place.
Few of us are fortunate enough to have a room we can set aside solely for devotional worship. Typically, your worship center also doubles as dining room, laundry room or den. Use your creativity to evoke a different mood so you won’t be distracted by thoughts of the activities usually associated with the room. Light a small candle, add an arrangement of garden flowers, or pop a tape of soft inspirational music into your headset.
Talk with God.
Imagine Jesus sitting in a chair near you or standing beside you with a hand on your shoulder. Now, talk with him as you would talk with a very intimate friend. Don’t feel obligated to use archaic words—thee and thou—or conjure up flowery language that is alien to you. Engage in direct and candid dialogue.
Why does silence make us uncomfortable? Why do we feel the need to “keep the conversation going” by chattering idly? Prayer time isn’t a monologue but a dialogue. Don’t monopolize the conversation with bloated phrases and wordy prayers. Stop talking and listen to what God is saying to you. Respect his wisdom, and pray that he will share that wisdom with you. Then, give him time—quiet time—to answer your prayer.
Often God will speak to you by giving you insights as you read the Bible. Unlike the scholarly research you may do as part of a Bible study group, the scripture reading you do during your daily devotions is more to inspire than to educate. God inspired the Bible (translated: God breathed in his spirit) so that you will be inspired by it.
Anticipate or review your day.
Depending on the time of your devotions, you may want to anticipate the events of the day or review those events. Someone once said that each day is a gift from God, and that is why it is called “the present.” Ask yourself, what will I (or, what did I) do with this “present” from God? Pray for his help as you look ahead to a difficult situation on your agenda, or ask for his peace as you put the day’s events behind you.
Close with praise.
You will probably find that you will feel relaxed, fortified, or replenished after your daily devotions. Thank God for this by ending on a note of praise. Perhaps you have found an appropriate verse in the Bible that summarizes your feeling. “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the lord’s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3, kjv). Or, you might repeat a doxology (any brief expression of praise to God) that you’ve sung in church.