August 9, 2023

Private Devotion Sets an Example

Private Devotion Sets an Example

Private devotion sets an example for the family. Whether you’re an academic, a Christian thinker, or simply a curious individual, private devotions hold great significance. Jesus himself set an example by often seeking solitude for prayer and devotion. He urges us to follow his lead and find a quiet place for personal communion with God. For many, daily devotions involve starting and ending the day with reading or studying the Bible along with prayer.

An old Kenyan pastor reminded me that Christians often do minutes of prayer and expect to do hours of mission work. Whilst Jesus did hours of prayer to do minutes of mission work. Often our approach to prayer and devotion is unbalanced.  We try to check the box or don’t do it at all. We allow the distractions of this world to push us out of spending one on one time with our Lord and Savior.

Daily Devotions

Daily devotions can be structured or informal. There are many devotional and prayer books to help you get started. Several smartphone apps are now available for you in your prayer and devotions. The important part is to get started. Motivation alone will not get you through this, only commitment. That’s why it’s called devotion – it necessitates genuine dedication to spending time with the Lord. The dictionary defines devotion in these terms: love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.

If you are more intellectually driven, you need to develop the emotional side of yourself. Conversely, if you are emotionally inclined and love the worship experience on Sunday mornings, you must develop the intellectual side yourself. Too many of us are broad but very shallow. We are commanded to love the Lord our God with the mind, body, and spirit. There is no better way to do this than getting alone with Him in seclusion.

How do you expect to hear the Shepherd’s voice above all the din of everyday life? Jesus says he is the bread of life. You eat food for your body, so why don’t you eat the spiritual food that only Jesus can provide and is found in daily devotionals?

Praise, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession

Praise, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession are the different types of prayer that you may include in your daily devotion.  The method I have found very effective is to read my Bible and stop to pray for understanding or praise when I have new insights. I also like to “pray” the Psalm I am reading and put my name in the prayer or someone I am praying for. I think God really loves to hear His words directed toward Him in our prayers. 

Whatever format your daily devotion takes, you must be consistent. Have you ever encountered someone who was critical of Christians or the Bible and wished you had an answer but couldn’t find the words? Has someone asked you a question about a difficult passage of scripture? It takes time, but this all starts to come to an end when you are consistent in your daily devotions. Spending time with God cures this problem.

Remember, For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:5,6)

The Apostle Paul explains that when we spend time in God’s presence, we have the experience of having God’s light shine in our hearts. This is like Moses in the Book of Exodus. However, we don’t need a Moses, each Christian has access to God through the Paraclete-Holy Spirit. If you truly desire to walk in the light from above, you must spend time every day with Him.  

I challenge you to begin by spending five minutes with Him each morning. Or if you have trouble falling asleep and turning your brain off, spend five minutes with Him each night.

Showing Devotion to God—Mind, Body, and Spirit

The priority of love — Mark’s Gospel

The Bible tells us, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” What does this love look like? To me, this love starts with taking time, time devoted to God, and only focusing on Him daily. I will spend time listening, praying, and reading His word.

Jesus, in the previous passage, begins with the heart. But he is not talking about emotions of the heart or some squishy feelings. He is talking about a heart that is not divided in its loyalty. 

Loving God is about devotion. Sadly, when we think about the word devotion, we often think of a time of boring Bible study. Instead, think of it as loyalty, being devoted too; after all, that is what the root word means. You can think about how sincere and committed you are as opposed to having a divided heart.

Too often, we say, Lord, I love you, but I am also committed to this thing over here. And there is a lot of Fun, Money, Power, Prestige, and Fame, and “I just have to take advantage of that opportunity.” That attitude brings us into conflict with the love we should have for God. Loving God with all of your heart means there is a single, undivided commitment to Him in obedience.

This devotion puts God first and makes Him primary. As Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Or, as the NLT plainly puts it, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matt. 6:33)

God is first, He is chief of all things, and if there is something your heart would hold on to if God told you to let it go, then you have a heart problem. There is plainly something wrong with your heart. This does not mean that God wants us to let go of everything, but if there is something I wouldn’t give to God, then I need to think about what my priorities actually are. This is a very difficult thing for us to do, but with help from the Holy Spirit, we can learn to give our hearts fully to God.

One important takeaway from this lesson. We make time for education; we make time for dental appointments and doctor visits. We are deliberate in our actions about family time and holidays. We must have the same attitude and devotion to God.

Love Him With all your soul

Jesus then talks about loving God with “all your soul.” Again, what does that look like? Does it refer to life? Does it refer to feelings, emotions, and affections? Could it be about your purpose? What is your life about? That is something for us to discover as we make our journey through life. Why do we think children and teenagers should know what they want to be? I am a fully grown adult, and I am still trying to work that out. Maria, on the other hand, found out her purpose early on. But she had doubts about doing missions on a trip to Malta to meet with the MENA. It was there that she got a clear affirming sign. 

So I think this is what Jesus is proposing here. We should love and glorify God with the very purpose of our life. The pagan thinks we should take all that we can. God asks us to give all that we can give. God is more important than you or anything else. He is not supplemental, something to bail us out when we are in difficulties or to virtue signal to others our own righteousness. 

Some people are living for their work, and one day they will retire, and they go through an existential crisis. They have little to do, and they feel like their life is not about anything anymore; it is without purpose. Then they come to the sad realization that their life was just about work. 

Loving God is our ultimate purpose and can be done in any situation. We just need to invite God into our workplace, our fun-place, and our quiet-place so that we can find the ultimate fulfillment.

Love him with all your mind

If you love God with your mind, you pursue him in your downtime like a sports fan pursues stats and watches reruns or highlights of games. Your mind is set on knowing everything you can learn about His ways, His words, and His love for all humanity. 

Another way of looking at this is using the eyes of Jesus to filter what you would watch, read, or listen to. You are not going to let things enter your mind that are not wholesome and edifying. Doing this will guard your mind against things that want to tear it down or even control your thinking. I say control your thinking—do all the thoughts in your head belong to you?

You will want to refrain from things like gossip, images, and overindulging in things you enjoy. You will use the love for God as a filter to protect your mind. 

We submit our intelligence and creativity to Him. We can use our rational minds to understand a rational God and the universe he created.

Love him with all of your strength

What does Jesus mean by strength? Some translations say “all our might.” You are not to love God out of slavish fear. You are connected to Him through love, and you esteem Him, and you take delight in Him, because of his providence and grace.

Your strength is about service to God. This includes talents, money, and a spirit of eagerness—like cheering for a team. He is your obsession, and you are on fire to glorify Him and carry out His commandments. 

Set an example for your family and pursue God with private devotion. Read Psalm 37.


Author: Jon-Roy Sloan is the Chief Communications Officer for NationsUniversity and the author of Anastasia Smiles: Love Needs No Translation. Disclaimer statement: Please note that the opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and are based on his personal understanding of scripture and how God works in our lives and do not necessarily reflect the views of NationsUniversity®.

Article 3, Family Policy Series – 101 Private Devotions

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