Devotional time must be prioritized
Created by Jon Taylor - Monday 18 Feb 2019
Jon Taylor
Devotional time must be prioritized

There will never be a shortage of excuses for missing out on times of prayer, Bible study and meditating on God’s Word. That isn’t to say that regular daily devotions are easily established and maintained. Let’s be realistic. Until we are with the Lord in heaven there will no doubt be a constant spiritual battle ongoing in this area. Even logic itself would persuade us that we cannot function in the way that we were designed to relate to God without this crucial time of personal fellowship with the Lord. The battle is spiritual, and we would do well to remind ourselves of that when the excuses try to break into our thought processes.

Devotional times in Scripture result in spiritual strengthening and blessings
We know that our Lord set aside time alone to pray in places where He wouldn’t be interrupted easily and often for a long duration (Matt. 14:22-23; Mark 1:35-37). How necessary it is to have that brought to our attention and to get our devotional life back on track and in step with the Holy Spirit. We need to ensure that we are in a place or available at a time when we won’t be disturbed either by work demands or telecommunications or social media and our focus is on meeting with God relationally.
Scripture gives us plenty of precedents for quiet times. ‘Enoch walked with God, and he was not for God took him (Gen. 5:24).’ Where was Isaac immediately before he met Rebekah? He was meditating in the fields toward evening (Gen 24:63). Moses met with God alone in Mount Sinai (Exod. 19:1-25). Before Joshua took Jericho, He met the Lord who consecrated Him reminding us that prayer and worship precedes service and helps us to order our spiritual priorities.
Psalm 1 encourages us to meditate upon God’s Word day and night. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to be still and know that He is God. In other words ‘let go’ and stop trying to control everything. God is sovereign, He is with us and our concern is for Him to be glorified in our lives. How can we encourage our young people to grow in their faith? Devotional times should be encouraged from a young age so that God will help us to keep our way pure (Psalm 119:9). David was awake at midnight to thank God for His righteous judgments (Psalm 119:62) and similarly Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns at the same hour in the Philippian jail (Acts 16:25). What was Daniel doing before he went into the lion’s den (Daniel 6:1-28). Wasn’t it the very thing that prepared him for that? Daniel knew that His prayer life was an absolute priority when he prayed thrice daily toward Jerusalem and we can see from this that our devotional times strengthen our faith in Him mightily!

Devotional times help us with our priorities
How should we undertake our devotional times? We are instructed not to be exhibitionists but to pray in our rooms with the door closed and in secret (Matt. 6:6). This helps to ensure that we avoid a delusionary ego trip of imagining others being impressed by our piety or the way in which our prayers are articulated. More importantly we have the immense privilege of meeting with God.
How does our quiet time relate to our priorities? Devotional times testify of our priorities. In fact if anything is more important to us than God, we are elevating whatever that is to the status of an idol. Obviously, we shouldn’t carve an object and prostrate ourselves before it.  The other things around us such as people and how we make a living and the essentials of life are often important and have their place, but they must not encroach on the greatest thing which is knowing, fellowshipping with and glorifying God. Matthew 6:33 captures this with ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you’.
At work we may have a priorities list or box split into four categories to determine which tasks to complete first and in which order by grouping them into Important urgent, Important non-urgent, less important urgent and less important non- urgent. We cannot fit God into any of those boxes since He must be above all those things and with the risk of stating a contradictory, hypothetical superlative, He is above-Important Urgent and without Him we can do nothing!

Family and Group Devotionals
There is great value in family devotions either with a spouse and with children. This will help you grow together in the Lord and grow closer together with those close to you. It sounds like a cliché though praying together will help many to stay together. Praying for your spouse helps you to focus on their prayer requests, not just your own desires. It also makes it more difficult for the devil to try to sow discord among you. If you haven’t done this for awhile as so easily happens from time to time (I have flunked in this area!) then see it as an opportunity to meet with God and bless one another in the Lord.
Asking questions at Bible Study is a good thing because it helps us think biblically and look to God’s Word rather than mere opinion. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 endorses the principle of using every opportunity to teach our children in the ways of the Lord. It is great when children are well taught at church and on rare occasions receive biblical instruction at school, though they need solid regular input at home. To put it one way, a child may have a school dinner or have a lunch at church though they still need to eat later in the day when they get home. Spiritual input must come from the home. After dinner (pun not intended) can often be a good time for family devotions, but the main thing is having that time together.
At Christian conferences or when meeting with friends, a collective devotional time first thing in the morning is helpful to prepare your heart as well as your mind for what you are to learn and discuss over that time. Often, it can take a while for what we learn into our minds to process into our actions and change us from within. At Bible Colleges, wise lecturers will frequently pray along the lines that what is taught will not simply be for the deepening of knowledge and to gain qualifications, but will affect the inward man deeply, change us inwardly so that we draw closer to God and that as we become transformed to His likeness, we may impact the world around us for His glory through His grace.

Monday 18 Feb 2019