Why I am Not a Fan of Using Devotionals for Quiet Times

I love books! As a voracious reader, I learn so much from the things people have written.  Just this past week I discovered a new Christian used book store here in town on my date with Jesus and I was like a kid in a candy shop!  I bought three books after putting four back (had to limit myself because I was on my bike with only a small backpack!) and devoured the first one that night!

So please understand… I do believe there is much value in reading the thoughts of others – but not during a quiet time!  With all my heart I believe this should be a sacred time, enjoyed daily, directly with the lover of your soul.

Yes, the Lord can and does speak to us in a number of ways.  He is an incredible communicator!  But I have found keeping my quiet time limited to the Lord, His Word and me during that special time makes such a difference in my life!

Why?

a.  Enjoying a quiet time this way is relational!

Now I’m well aware there are many who will disagree with me regarding the use of devotionals for Quiet Times.  And that’s totally fine! (I am not at all saying I think it’s wrong to do this, just not generally wise if its taking the place of you going directly to God’s Word – though if Jesus leads you to do this, by all means follow Him!!!)  But I know my dates with my husband wouldn’t be the same if someone else came along and I just listened to this person, no matter how wise or eloquent he was, tell me what he thought about what my husband said.  For a counseling appointment or at a dinner party that’s fine, but on a date I want to hear and experience Jim directly! :0)  And it’s the same in my times with the Lord.

b.   Enjoying a quiet time this way promotes growing in dependence on the Lord… not other people

I believe this is especially important when following up a new or young believer. Remember how 1 Peter 2:2 talks about how key “pure spiritual milk”  (or as the KJV says “the sincere milk of the Word”) is for growing?  A daily quiet time is a prime time for taking this in.

It’s so easy for young believers to develop a dependence on other people, to let others do their thinking for them, and then to be intimidated by how well written or how brilliant the thoughts in the devotional are and think, “I could never come up with anything like that.” So instead of directly learning to listen to the Holy Spirit teach them from His Word, they become dependent on people.

c.  Enjoying a quiet time this way helps people grow in valuing God’s Word

The Bible is not another book among books.

2 Timothy 3:16 states, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

And we’re told in Hebrews 4:12 “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword.  It penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

And in 2 Peter 1:20 we’re told, “But know this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

And in Isaiah 55 the Lord himself pleads, “Listen, listen to me and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare” and then He compares His Word to the rain watering the earth and promises, “So is my Word that goes out of my mouth it will not return to me void, but will accomplish the purpose I have for it.”

What other book is like this?!!!

As I often say, my words are like .5 cents compared to God’s Word being a million dollars.  So let’s say the words of the most eloquent, mature Christian writer are worth $20.  What’s that compared to God’s Word?!  If I really care about someone don’t I long for them to maximally be enriched?!!!

d.  Enjoying a quiet time this way can help us learn in small bites to meditate on God’s Word and apply it

It’s work learning to meditate on God’s Word and diligently apply it.  This is why a daily quiet time is a discipline and as Hebrews 12:11 tells us, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who’ve been trained by it.”  Did you catch that?  No discipline! Not one!  So this is not an easy thing to integrate into your life.

Reading a book can be a whole lot easier!  For me, reading is like a sweet reward.  It’s what I do to relax, refresh, recharge.  It’s all too easy to take the easy route – and really miss out!

Remember for growth you can’t “just read.” There also needs to be meditating on what you’re reading and then application.  Otherwise you end up like the foolish builder in Matthew 7 whose house came crashing down because it was built on sand.  This foolish man heard the Word, he just didn’t do anything in response to it!

It’s so easy to just read books and not do anything with what you’re reading.  (Granted, it’s easy to do this with God’s Word, too.  I can’t stress enough how vital practical application of God’s Word is!  So I will concur someone who takes whatever morsel of God’s Word they find in a devotional and meditates on it and actively applies it in a life changing way is better off than someone who reads multiple chapters from their Bible each day and does nothing with it!  But why settle for this when you can go directly to God’s word and reap maximum benefit?!)

e. Enjoying a quiet time this way becomes a time of experiencing the Lord!

Just as when I meet with someone, it’s so much more valuable if they discover something rather than me telling them – so I want them to experience the joy of God opening their eyes so they can see wonderful things in His Word!  This is a powerful way of experiencing the presence and wisdom of the Lord.  He really is an amazing communicator.  What a difference it can make in our relationship as well as our lives when we experience this first hand!

f.  Enjoying a quiet time this way is transformational not simply informational!

In America, we are so caught up with knowing information.  And sadly it’s so easy to mistake knowing something in our heads with truly being transformed by it!  God’s Word has such power to transform our lives as we live it out.  Far better to have a simple thought from God’s Word that you live out and changes you, rather than the most brilliant thought that simply fills your brain.

Yes, there are many devotionals that contain incredible thoughts.  I have benefitted greatly from the writings of Oswald Chambers, especially.  But please note he didn’t deliver these as quiet time material.  His wife faithfully wrote down what he shared in messages!

It’s fine to read writings like these and you may benefit greatly from them – but I highly recommend reading them as you would any other book and saving your quiet time for special time enjoying and interacting directly with Jesus through His Word!

(NOTE:  for more information on a simple but highly transformational way of structuring quiet times with an emphasis on meditation and application, check out the article “The Treasure of Shared Quiet Times” found in the “Helps!” section)

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