The past few days we’ve talked 3 critical elements of your devotional time. We talked a little about different Bible translations, and how important it is to find one that you can connect with. Yesterday the topic was supplemental material, like study notes, concordances etc. Today let’s look at the 3rd element – prayer. Please realize that this isn’t 3rd because it’s the least important. If I had to prioritize, I’d probably place it first!
Think of it this was. We defined devotions as being your personal time with God. This is foundational if you are to have a relationship with Him. You cannot have a relationship with someone you don’t know, and the deeper the relationship is to be, the more you need to know the other person. God already knows everything to know about you & I – more than we do ourselves. So, it is now on us to get to know Him as deeply and intimately as possible, if we want something more than a superficial acquaintance with Him. We don’t want Jesus to be the guy we say ‘Hi’ to as we pass on the street, but never stop to talk with. We want Him as our closest friend and confidant – even closer than your spouse.
Let’s say you want that close relationship with a person – me. You could read a book I wrote, and learn a lot about me. You could read what others have written about me (supplemental material) and understand me even better. But we’ll never have a relationship until you talk with me. Get it?
Here’s a great thing. Jesus wants that kind of relationship with you so badly that He even makes the first efforts. He reaches out to you in many, many ways. He uses music, nature, other people. He blesses you over & over hoping you’ll recognize the Giver of your gifts. He performs miracles every day, hoping that you don’t simply chalk them up to ‘luck’ or coincidence. He’s given you plenty of written invitations in the Bible.
Jeremiah 29:12-13 is a good example. “12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Matt 11:28 is also a favorite: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
There are many more.
Try this starting tomorrow. Put prayer first. Before you open your Bible or read your devotional, pray. Invite Jesus to come along side and speak to you through what you about to read or study. Ask His Holy Spirit to give you a deeper understanding than ever before, so that what you read would become more than just information, but a soul-deep, life changing experience.
Finally, we have to remember that prayer is not just a one-sided monologue, us giving our ‘laundry list’ of needs and concerns to God for Him to take care of. We have to listen in prayer as much as we talk – maybe more. More on listening to God tomorrow.