You hit the snooze button again. Now it’s a race against the clock to get through your morning routine and out the door. But soon you realize there’s no way you can get everything done and read your Bible. Have you just hijacked your day?
It’s not uncommon to think you’re doomed to fail whenever you miss devotions. But the truth is, the Bible isn’t some kind of good luck charm. Reading it every morning doesn’t guarantee you a day of pleasant circumstances and godly behavior. And skipping a morning doesn’t equal an automatic jinx on your day. Believing that it does takes something good and turns it into a heavy burden. If you have this faulty thinking, rather than feeling refreshed and encouraged whenever you do spend time in the Word, you feel guilty and nervous instead whenever you don’t.
Speaking from Experience
For years I felt an unexplainable burden to crack open my Bible first thing in the morning, and I was ridden with guilt if I missed a day. It was a complicated beast, driven by a mixture of genuine desire and crippling regret.
Obviously, it’s wonderful to eagerly begin the day in God’s Word and prayer. Setting our minds on things above (Col. 3:1) can help us find joy and fight temptation, neither of which we can do in our own strength. But our problem begins when this humble dependence on divine help becomes a desperate means of seeking divine approval. It’s a battle I still wrestle with at times. But ever so gently, Jesus keeps reminding me that following Him doesn’t mean being ruled by a rod of iron. In Christ is great freedom and love.
If this is your struggle, let me gently remind you: the purpose of a devotional time isn’t to gain a higher rating from God (as if He has a rating system!). It’s to spend time with Jesus in order to develop a relationship with Him. Jesus demonstrated this truth for all of us the day He stopped into Martha’s house for lunch.
Just Like a Friend
Martha and her sister, Mary, were dear friends of Jesus. When Jesus and His disciples came for a visit, Mary sat down to listen to Jesus, but Martha kept busy preparing for the houseguests. She grew exasperated at Mary for leaving her to do all the work, and she let Jesus know it. It sounds like Martha was more concerned with impressing Jesus in her home than with making room for Him in her heart.
What did Jesus have to say about all this? Did He rebuke one (or both) of the sisters? Did He pronounce judgment on Martha for her careless neglect of Him?
While He did address Martha’s accusations against her sister, He didn’t rebuke or shame her. Instead, Jesus extended grace to her. He offered her the one thing she needed, an invitation to come, rest, and enjoy His presence (Luke 10:38–42).
This is what Jesus offers you. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Jesus is extending an offer of friendship to you, like a friend dining with a friend. Your Lord and Savior desires your company. He doesn’t want you to feel anxious or distracted about anything but to choose “the good portion”—Himself.
Don’t Be THAT Friend
Imagine you’re meeting up with a friend for coffee. She snaps a cute selfie with you to document your time together, but then she remains fixated on her phone for the next half hour. She chats occasionally about her life problems but never once asks about you. How would this make you feel? This isn’t the behavior you’d expect from a true, devoted friend, is it?
The word “devotion” is a term we often use to describe time spent in prayer and study, and it means having love and loyalty to a person or cause. That means our devotion to something or someone is driven by love. Let that sink in . . .
Are you devoted to Jesus? Is love for Jesus your motivation for spending time with Him, getting to know Him, and fellowshipping with Him? Or are you too busy checking off your “quiet time” list to actually notice His presence?
Carefully consider your motivation(s) for spending time reading the Bible and praying.
- Are you afraid God will be mad at you if you don’t?
- Do you worry God will neglect you in your time of need if you neglect Him?
- Are you motivated simply by His love and by a growing love for Him in return?
- Do you desire closer friendship and communion with Jesus?
Take some time now to confess any wrong motives and to ask Jesus for a heart that is truly devoted to Him.