It is helpful to have an overview of some basic resources that have been used over the years to develop a devotional practice.
Well, this one goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. A Bible is absolutely the most important tool to develop a devotional life. Some ask which is the best translation and if a Study Bible is helpful. I answer by saying that any translation that speaks to you is the right one to use devotionally. Let me suggest the New Living Translation if you are openly looking for a version to use. I have found it to be inherently readable and reliable. But I wouldn’t go out and buy a new one if you already have a Bible at home.
In terms of Study Bibles, I’d stay away from one as you begin a devotional practice. Let me say why…Study Bibles lend themselves to distracting you if you are not careful. The purpose of a devotional time is to deepen your relationship with God and not write a scholarly paper. Accept that there are some things that you may read which are tough to understand. I make a note and go back to do research later. But I try not to stop the flow a devotional moment and do so. Study Bibles are great resources when you are studying which is different than devotional reading.
Should you use a devotional book? Maybe…these are great ways to hear what others have to say about their journey with God. They are also great for wetting your appetite and preparing your heart to pray.
If you do go in that direction, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers is a classic devotional book. Some people I know have gotten into the series She Reads Truth and even others receive a daily email from Max Lucado.
But let me caution you. Do not get caught up in substituting others relationship with God for your own! If they help you go deeper with God then great…but if they become a crutch then I would encourage you to stay away or use sparingly. A devotional time is your time with God. Trust that God will speak through Scripture and your prayer time the words you need to hear. Not that God doesn’t use others, that’s not what I am saying. But what I am saying is it is important to learn to feed yourself instead of depending on others. Okay..enough preaching…I’ll move on.
I think it is very helpful to have some way of taking notes about what you hear or are feeling. A journal is a great way to do that. I also know people who write directly in their Bible which is another way of recording things. Whatever works for you is great…by the way…it is not sacrilegious to write in your Bible. Now, the Pew Bibles at your church…that’s another story!
I’m going to save this for a full Wednesday post. For now let me say that the Daily Office is a great tool that gives you direction, keeps you drenched with Scripture, and focuses you on the Church calendar which is a solid way of being well-rounded. The Daily Office I use is published by the Episcopal Church. It can be intimidating to use at first, but after a brief time it becomes second nature. I’ll pick up on this in another post in greater detail.
That’s it for now. I pray you are already beginning your journey or taking the next step in developing your devotional life. Feel free to reach out if you have other questions or want me to address other things that would be helpful for you.